|Matchup Preview | November 29, 2014|
| No. 6 Ohio State Buckeyes|
Five Fast Facts About Michigan
1. Michigan is one of the least penalized teams in the nation with 3.45 per game, first in the Big Ten and second in the NCAA.
2. The Wolverines are tied for 4th in the Big Ten and for 10th in the NCAA, allowing their opponents an average of 16.3 first downs per game, and the Wolverines rank 3rd in the Big Ten and 13th in the NCAA with an average of 4.61 yards allowed per play.
3. Michigan has won the turnover battle just once this year, going 1-0.
4. In conference play, Michigan is averaging 18.1 points per game.
5. A full 23 Michigan players are from Ohio, which probably seemed like a good idea at the time.
OHIO STATE RUSH OFFENSE vs. MICHIGAN RUSH DEFENSE
Despite all that’s gone wrong in Ann Arbor, Michigan still boasts a defense that can stop people, and that’s especially true in this realm. The Wolverines enter ninth in the nation in rushing defense, allowing just 107.2 yards per game. So far, Michigan has kept six opponents below 100 yards, but the other five all topped 145 for the game, including Michigan State and Minnesota, which each topped 200. Michigan has avoided the other excellent Big Ten rushers at Wisconsin and Nebraska, so the stats are a tad bit inflated, but this is still a solid group led by a cadre of good linebackers. EDGE: OHIO STATE
MICHIGAN RUSH OFFENSE vs. OHIO STATE RUSH DEFENSE
This won’t be a test on the caliber of facing a Melvin Gordon, David Cobb or a Tevin Coleman, but Michigan can run it some and the Buckeyes are reeling a bit in this realm. Starting running back Derrick Green is out for the year but Drake Johnson topped 100 yards on the ground two games ago vs. Northwestern, De’Veon Smith did the same at Northwestern and the team ran for 292 yards vs. Maryland last week. Then there’s Devin Gardner, the mobile quarterback who can take off and run when need be or make things happen when Michigan uses its shotgun, spread sets. The Wolverines can attack both out of power personnel and the shotgun, so it’ll be interesting to see what they choose. EDGE: EVEN
OHIO STATE PASS OFFENSE vs. MICHIGAN PASS DEFENSE
Michigan is 23rd in the nation in passing yards allowed but 61st in passing efficiency defense, a sign that while teams haven’t thrown it a ton, they’ve had success when they’ve done it. The Wolverines have allowed 13 touchdowns and pulled in five interceptions, while teams are completing almost 60 percent of their passes. In other words, you might expect the Buckeyes to have an OK day the way J.T. Barrett has been playing of late, and Michigan’s secondary isn’t filed with All-Americans. The pass rush is good but not great, especially after the dismissal of Frank Clark. EDGE: OHIO STATE
MICHIGAN PASS OFFENSE vs. OHIO STATE PASS DEFENSE
Simply put, this has been a dumpster fire this year – Gardner has eight touchdowns and 14 interceptions, and he continues to make crippling mental errors at the worst times – but Ohio State fans saw last year what Gardner can do if given time and taking care of the football. Michigan also hit a number of misdirection plays on OSU as Gardner threw for more than 450 yards. One big difference this year is that he doesn’t have many great targets; Devin Funchess has been good but not great since moving from tight end to wideout, and no one else has 500 yards receiving on the season. EDGE: OHIO STATE
Michigan is among the worst teams in the country when it comes to net punt as well as returns, though the Wolverines do have a punt block touchdown this season. Other than that, the punt return has been nonexistent, though Dennis Norfleet does have a chance to make some things happen in kick return. Kicker Matt Wile has been solid but not outstanding with a long of 48, but two tries have been blocked. Ohio State needs to shore some things up here but could have an edge. EDGE: OHIO STATE
This should be even – it’s The Game, after all. Ohio State, of course, doesn’t want to lose to the Maize and Blue for the first time in Urban Meyer’s tenure and just the second time in the past decade. Michigan, meanwhile, knows that a win would salvage what has been a terrible season to this point. So both teams have plenty to play for, and spoilers have favorites have each had their fair share of success over the years. One thing is for sure – the Buckeyes have to come to play because expecting Michigan to roll over simply would be folly. EDGE: EVEN
It’s that time of the year again, even though The Game kind of feels like what it’s felt like a number of times in the past seven years – a rivalry that has lost its luster in some ways because of the struggles on one side or the other, usually Michigan. The Wolverines have entered the game with more nine eight wins just once since 2008 – and that year was 2011, when OSU entered 6-5. Of course, the Buckeyes nearly won that game, and Michigan almost won last year, so you can’t just assume this will be a walkover. But this appears to be one of the most motivated Ohio State teams of the past few years, so we don’t expect a letdown by any stretch. OHIO STATE 39-21
The staff pick is an average of predictions by staffers Kane Anderson, Ryan Ginn, Matthew Hager, Mark Rea, Jeff Svoboda and Blake Williams