The game that the Michigan Wolverines have been building towards all season is finally here with the top-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes coming to town for another tilt in one of college football’s greatest rivalries.
This edition of The Game pits two of the hottest teams in the country against each other, though one’s body of work has lasted much longer than the other. While the Wolverines have come on over the last month or so, Ohio State has been dominant all season long and has been one of the most impressive teams of the College Football Playoff era. The Buckeyes have won every game they have played this season and done so by double-digit margins while also looking as if they have barely broken a sweat. They are headlined by a first-year head coach in Ryan Day and a pair of Heisman contenders in quarterback JustinF Fields and defensive end Chase Young, both among the best players in the country at their respective positions.
The Buckeyes have already clinched the Big Ten East and a trip to Indianapolis next weekend, but the Wolverines are not scared by what lies in front of them, even if the Buckeyes have won 16 of the 18 meetings between these two teams since the year 2000. Jim Harbaugh and the Wolverines are rolling right now have have truly hit their stride as a team, outscoring their last four opponents by a score of 166-45 while exploding offensively and riding an improving and adjusting defense to a month’s worth of dominant efforts.
All Michigan fans could have asked for after how the season began with struggles against Army, an embarrassing effort at Wisconsin and a heartbreaker at Penn State is that their team improved enough to make this game on Saturday interesting. They have done that and then some. This has the potential to be another classic in the series between these two storied programs.
Harbaugh and his team have shed a lot of narratives over the course of the season, but one enormous one still remains. He has not beaten the Buckeyes and this is a chance to make this either a memorable and historic season or just another campaign where progress was made, but the ultimate goal was never quite reached.
Michigan wins if: Michigan has to play its best and most mistake-free game of the season while also playing opportunistic football. That means holding onto that interception that might slip through your fingers, or connecting on that wide-open throw over the middle of the field. If they can get Ohio State and Fields into some third and long situations and get off the field in key situations, they might give themselves a real shot here. Especially if the offense proves that it can keep up in a track meet with the Buckeyes. Shea Patterson must match or outplay Justin Fields and the offensive line and tight ends/running backs have to contain Chase Young.
Ohio State wins if: They are able to slow down Michigan’s passing attack and get pressure on Shea Patterson. Fields must keep extending drives with his legs and the talented receiving corps they have will look to exploit Lavert Hill and Ambry Thomas. Even if things get tight, OSU found itself in a similar situation last week against Penn State and still won by double-digits.
This OSU team is a juggernaut and among the best Michigan has ever gone up against. They have made it look easy throughout the year and have barely struggled. To prove that Michigan’s turnaround is sustainable and that the early-season struggles were worth it, they have to come out and compete in this game and give themselves a shot to make this upset happen. This is as battle-tested a Michigan group as any over the last number of years. They are going to give themselves a chance to win this game, but Ohio State might just be the favorite to win the national title. It’s going to be a blast on Saturday, but the Buckeyes just might be too good and will make one or two extra plays it takes to pull out the victory.
Prediction: Ohio State 38, Michigan 30
Teams: No. 1 Ohio State Buckeyes (11-0, 8-0 B1G) at No. 13 Michigan Wolverines (9-2, 6-2 B1G)
Date: Nov. 30, 2019
Location: Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Michigan
Time: 12 p.m. ET
Television: FOX (Gus Johnson, Joel Klatt and Jenny Taft on the call)
Streaming: Fox Sports Go, Hulu, Fubo, YouTubeTV
Radio: 950 AM in the Detroit/Ann Arbor area, see affiliate stations here
Spread: Ohio State -9, Over/under set at 50
What are your predictions for Saturday’s game? Sound off in the comments below with your score and why.