Kirk Herbstreit may be a former Ohio State Buckeye, but he is also one of the most respected analysts in college football and does a pretty nice job of remaining objective. So much so that Buckeye fans basically ran he and his family out of Columbus.
Herbstreit has now weighed in on the upcoming Michigan vs. Ohio State matchup on Saturday on this week’s podcast with David Pollack:
“(Ohio State has) been dominating this series,” Herbstreit said. “And nothing would make Jim Harbaugh, who’s been under a lot of pressure and fire about (how) he can’t beat Ohio State, right, can’t beat Michigan State, can’t beat Ohio State. He took care of Michigan State this year, helped them get into the second half of the season. They dominated that game and now here comes Ohio State with a new head coach. So there is so much at stake.
”But I feel like if Michigan wins, they’re not going to the Big Ten championship, they’re just trying to beat Ohio State and it’s still a lot. But I feel like they have more of an opportunity to be the underdog, to play with a chip on their shoulder to show that they can play with Ohio State. And when you do that, your players have a tendency to play with an edge. Your offensive coordinator’s willing to take more chances. Ohio State’s been a great team all year. They’re going to have to match, which I don’t think will be a problem for them, the attitude that underdog mentality that Michigan will be playing with and not just walk in there the way some of the Ohio State fans are think, ‘Oh, it’s no problem. We beat them every year, we’re going to beat them again.’ That’s kind of how the fans approach it. If Ryan Day can get his team ready to play Rutgers and Maryland, you can only imagine how he’ll have his team to a level of emotions when they take the field to take on Michigan at noon eastern on Saturday.”
As far as what the key to the game from the Buckeye point of view is, it is all about slowing down Michigan’s passing attack and red-hot quarterback Shea Patterson.
“So I think Ohio State’s defense is the key to the game,” Herbstreit said. “Michigan and Shea Patterson, they’ve been running the ball, they’ve been stretching defenses horizontally. Nico Collins and these receivers, they are the ones that need more credit because they are blocking their tails off in the run game and they’re making plays vertically in the pass game (with) yards after catch, when they go horizontally and then Shea Patterson’s in a rhythm, where he’s getting the seam shots downfield. And with these taller receivers, he does a good job of putting the ball up in the air, where these big guys can go up, climb the ladder and make a play against man coverage.
”So it’s a biggest test Ohio State’s defense has had all year and I’m anxious to see Chase Young, the pass rush, how Michigan counters that by rolling Shea Patterson away from him, by getting the ball out of his hands quickly, just to try to do whatever they can to counter punch how good Ohio State’s pass rush and how good Chase Young has been, and I think it’s going to come down to the coverage units in the back end, the corners, the safeties, the linebackers in coverage, how well they play, I think, will ultimately dictate who ends up winning this game.”
Jim Harbaugh on Ryan Day, former assistants
Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh stood at the podium on Monday afternoon anxious to get to practice and get through his session with the media, especially given the fact that a number of reporters made the drive north up from Ohio.
He was asked at one point to compare what it is like to prepare for a Ryan Day team compared to an Urban Meyer team. He would not spill the beans, but remained short and complimentary towards his foe.
“Not comparing team to team, but the Ohio State team is a heck of a good football team,” Harbaugh said. “Ryan Day and his entire staff have done an outstanding job coaching the team, one of the best defenses in the country, one of the best offenses in the country. They play really well on special teams. So position by position, they’ve done an outstanding job developing this team.”
Former Michigan assistants Greg Mattison and Al Washington made the jump to Ohio State during the last offseason. Harbaugh was once again asked to address that and would not take any more bait on the subject.
“As I said, I think Ryan Day has done a tremendous job, and his coaching staff has done a tremendous job coaching this team. They’re one heck of a good football team. It’s a challenge in terms of preparation during the week. We’ve been doing it, we’ve been attacking it. We feel confident right now, feel good, and are excited to get on the field and practice.”
- If you want to make your skin crawl, Urban Meyer in a recent interview says his greatest achievement at Ohio State is his 7-0 record against Michigan. Be right back, going to vomit.
- Alabama coach Nick Saban said ahead of this week’s game against Auburn that “This is the best team we’ve played, probably, so far this year.” Shade at LSU?
- Speaking of Alabama, would Utah have a case to get into the playoff over them? Yahoo! Sports makes the argument here.