KICKOFF: Saturday, noon ET
SITE: Michigan Stadium, Ann Arbor, Mich.
SERIES: Michigan leads 57-44-6 (last meeting, 2010, Ohio State 37-7)
RECORDS: Ohio State 6-5, 3-4 Big Ten; Michigan 9-2, 5-2 Big Ten
POLLS: Michigan (No. 17 AP, No. 16 USA Today)
PREDICTION: Michigan 27-13
KEYS TO THE GAME:
-- For Ohio State: Force Michigan QB Denard Robinson into mistakes. That was the key for Michigan State and Iowa in their wins over the Wolverines. The Buckeyes must avoid killing turnovers in the red zone.
-- For Michigan: Eliminate turnvoers. Michigan is aware that turnovers have played a huge role in the outcome of this game. The Wolverines want to keep Ohio State QB Braxton Miller, a shaky passer but effective runner, from getting loose.
SCOUTING THE TEAMS:
It is week 12 of the season and Ohio State is still searching for some kind of consistent passing game. The return of senior WR DeVier Posey from 10 games worth of suspensions helped a bit last week against Penn State, but Ohio State averages just 114 passing yards per game, right near the bottom nationally. Although the meetings with Michigan have not historically been passing competitions, the Buckeyes need some balance to keep the Wolverines from loading up against the run.
Ohio State gets to match up with Michigan QB Denard Robinson, who brings a lot of momentum into the game after a couple recent strong performances. The Buckeyes are giving up over 201 yards a game to opposing rushers. Their opponents also are throwing for nearly 188 a game. The Buckeyes have come up with 12 interceptions and 22 sacks, however.
Michigan has its offense clicking coming into the season-finale. QB Denard Robinson had 263 yards of offense in last week's win over Nebraska, accounting for two rushing touchdowns and two more passing. RB Fitzgerald Toussaint had two touchdowns while carrying the ball 29 times for 138 yards. With Toussaint running effectively, Robinson's dual threat abilities do the most damage to the opposition.
Michigan's defense is trending in a very positive direction. The Wolverines knocked down six passes against Nebraska, recorded three sacks and had six tackles-for-loss. Michigan faces a difficult assignment in slowing Ohio State freshman QB Braxton Miller, who is a threat to break a big play with each snap.
Buckeyes: Ohio State a win to avoid a six-loss season and make it eight straight victories against Michigan on the field. The Buckeyes' 2010 win was vacated in the wake of the tattoo and memorabilia scandal. ... The Buckeyes have lost four Big Ten games this season, by a total of 19 points -- an average of 4.7 points per defeat. ... Ohio State (34) and Michigan (42) have combined for 76 Big Ten titles, but neither will add to the total this season. ... Just three weeks ago, Ohio State was 3-2 in the Big Ten and in contention for the Leaders Division title and a berth in the conference's first title game. Two straight losses have eliminated Ohio State from title contention. ... Ohio State and Michigan have finished the regular season against each other every year but once since 1935. That exception was in 1942, when the Buckeyes ended against Iowa. ... The Buckeyes have had seen different true freshmen make starts, and 14 true freshmen have played in at last one game. ... WR DeVier Posey, who missed the first 10 games of the season serving two NCAA suspensions, started against Penn State and led the Buckeyes with four receptions for 66 yards. ... RB Dan "Boom" Herron has had success against Michigan. In three games, he has rushed for 358 yards and three touchdowns against the Wolverines. ... C Mike Brewster has made 47 consecutive starts for the Buckeyes.
Wolverines: Michigan has lost nine of the last 10 meetings with Ohio State, though the Buckeyes had to vacate -- not forfeit -- the 2010 win after details of the tattoo and extra benefits scandal were released. ... A victory over Ohio State would make this Michigan team the first since 1917 to win eight home games. ... In Big Ten games this season, Michigan has allowed the second-fewest points in the conference (121). The Wolverines have scored the second-most points in conference play (242). ... The Wolverines allowed 35.2 points per game in 2010, but this year Michigan's defense is allowing just 15.6 points per game, ranking second in the Big Ten and sixth in the nation. ... Michigan has outscored its opponents 298-109 from the second quarter on and 190-77 in the second half this season. ... S Josh Furman blocked a punt in Michigan's win over Nebraska, the Wolverines' first punt LB Kenny Demens has started all 11 games this season for the Wolverines, and leads the team with 78 tackles. block since the 2009 season.
PLAYERS TO WATCH:
LB Ryan Shazier -- Shazier earned Big Ten Conference freshman of the week honors for his 15-tackle performance against Penn State in his first career start. He was starting in place of the injured Andrew Seat.
RB Dan Herron -- Herron has rushed for 556 yards in just five games since returning from suspension. He is averaging over five yards a carry.
TE Jake Stoneburner -- Stoneburner aught his seventh touchdown pass of the season in the loss to Penn State. A former wide receiver, Stoneburner creates difficult match-up problems with his speed and athleticism.
QB Denard Robinson -- Robinson had one of his best games as a Wolverine in last week's win over Nebraska. He had 263 yards of total offense, with 180 passing and 83 rushing. He scored two rushing touchdowns and passed for two more scores.
DL Ryan Van Bergen -- Van Bergen has 3.5 sacks and five tackles for loss in Michigan's past two games.
RB Fitzgerald Toussaint -- Toussaint had 27 carries for 192 yards in the recent win at Illinois, then last week carried the ball a career-high 29 times for 138 yards in the win over Nebraska.
Buckeyes: LB Andrew Seat (concussion, questionable).
Wolverines: OL Ricky Barnum (ankle, questionable).
TSX Files: UM vs. Ohio Breakdown, Prediction
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