Random Thoughts: After Surviving #1 & #2

Coach Roy has now observed both of the teams in "The Game" and has just a few observations about how both the Ohio State Buckeyes and Michigan Wolverines played against the Northwestern Wildcats and how that might predict the outcome of "The Game"....

On Defense
Michigan did a better job on Tyrell Sutton and the NU running game than Ohio State did. Michigan's defense shut down the Wildcats on the ground, holding them to minus rushing yardage.

Ohio State defense slowed down Sutton and Terrell Jordan holding the NU rush game to 68 yards, but the passing turnovers that ended drives early in the game was even more effective since the Cats had to shift to a passing attack to try to catch up.
On running defense, Michigan's has to be rated ahead of the Bucks...
OK, Defending against the Pass - the Wolverines allowed the Cats to put up 204 yards passing, but kept NU out of the end zone.; NU averaged over 10 yards a completion however.

the Wildcats put up 229 yards passing against the Buckeyes. Sutton scored on a pass from C.J. Bacher for NU's only TD.

Ohio State picked the Cats for 2 interceptions, both led to scores, Michigan picked off 3 NU passes, one was returned for a TD.

The big difference here was that NU was way behind the Buckeyes early in the game. Michigan's defense really saw a more balanced attack as the Cats were able to stay in their game plan and not have to play catchup.
On Passing Defense, I'll still give the edge to Ohio State.
The Cats scored every time they got to the Red Zone against both teams. The difference here is the number of times the Wildcats made it inside the 20.  NU was 1 of 1 against Michigan, 2 of 2 against Ohio State.
Red Zone Defense: Give a slight edge here to Michigan because they kept NU out of the red zone more.
Michigan had to work hard to score on the "bend don't break" Wildcats, but they still racked up 202 yards on the ground. Mike Hart, the Wolverines top rusher accounted for 95 of them, Jerome Jackson had another 59. Hart had the only rushing TD, a 3 yard run in the 3rd quarter.

In Evanston, Ohio State's rushers, Chris Wells [99 yds] and Antonio Pittman [80] were the top rushers for the Buckeyes who finished the game with 231 yards on the ground. They scored 3 TDs rushing and finally didn't fumble.
Running Game is even
For some reason, Michigan's Chad Henne wasn't all that impressive - maybe it was the weather, but he was 10 of 20 with one TD and 116 yards.

Troy Smith threw one less pass than Henne against the Cats - he was 12 of 19 for 185 yards and 4 TDs. We should point out that Smith worked on a short field all day - 4 of his TDs came after NU turnovers. Henne had to work a little harder, even though he got the ball on a fumble recovery his first two series.
Passing Game - I'd give a slight edge to Ohio State, mainly because they used the pass to turn NU's early turnovers into 14 points - Michigan only got 7 points off their first quarter recoveries.
OSU came into our game with a record of capitalizing on turnovers - especially ones they forced - and that's what they did. They scored 5 TDs off 5 NU turnovers, and 2 more as a result of blocked punts.

Michigan only scored 2 TDs after NU turnovers.
Capitalize on Turnovers no kidding - Ohio State gets the nod on this one - 35 points vs 14.
Overall, I do expect #1 to win this thing, but only if they are able to force Michigan turnovers.

The Bucks took that first fumble [that wasn't] and scored, then never looked back. Expect the replay guys to be on top of plays like that this week, and the Wolverines to be holding on to the ball but the Bucks like to force mistakes and there's no indication that they won't try to continue that next Saturday.

On the rest of the variables, I'll let the guys on the message boards fight it out..
Regardless of who you like in "The Game," it one still comes down to which team makes the fewest mistakes and how Michigan plays in the Shoe...

Otherwise, I'll justs call it even.


-- da Coach

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