Bank Blog: Ohio State vs Michigan Preview

Ohio State heads to Michigan this week after losing a shocker to Michigan State last week. Can the Buckeyes regroup and get a much needed win?

- Any Ohio State fans rejoicing that Mark Dantonio and his Michigan State coaching staff are in the rear view mirror should understand that this Michigan staff under Jim Harbaugh is better. Harbaugh has put together a great staff, filled with NFL experience, and the product they put out on the field is as well coached as any team in America. 

- This is going to be a tough game for Ohio State to win, and was going to be a hard game even had the Buckeyes won last week's game. Michigan is a good team. This isn't Brady Hoke's outfit, or Rich Rodriguez's crew. Those days are over. Ohio State cannot play average and win this game. Those days are now over as well. There is no wide talent gap, like there has been in the past. Michigan always had talent, but it was so poorly coached that they underachieved. Those days are over. There are a ton of players on Michigan's roster that Urban Meyer wanted. And now they are being coached by one of the best in the business in Harbaugh. 

- OHIO STATE RUSHING OFFENSE: The one constant with Ohio State's offense under Meyer is that to move the football against good defenses, they must control the middle of the field behind a power-running tailback. Whether it's Carlos Hyde. Or Zeke Elliott. The QB's have all had great success in Meyer's offense, but never on days when the middle isn't owned. Jacoby Boren, Billy Price and Pat Elflein MUST dominate the Michigan defensive tackles and middle linebacker, or Ohio State is going to have trouble moving the football. The east/west game is predicated on establishing the middle first. If Zeke is never established, it won't matter who the QB is. One carry in the third quarter, and one carry in the fourth quarter last week is a crime. 

- OHIO STATE PASSING OFFENSE: Take another look at last week's passing numbers, but make sure breakfast has been digested. Only 9 completions. And 8 of those completions were for 7 yards or less. In this week's game, the pass protection needs to be solid. Ohio State rolled J.T. Barrett left numerous times last week, with zero success, because they were so scared of Chase Farris not holding up at right tackle. This limited the field for a passing attack that is already limited with Barrett in the game. Farris needs coached up to do his job. Or he needs help with a tight end or a back. Or he needs replaced. You can't play offense with 10 men, and ignore 33% of the field. I think Jourdan Lewis takes Mike Thomas out of this game. They must work on Jalin Marshall against the other corner, and look to get Braxton Miller and Curtis Samuel locked up on either a safety or a linebacker. I would probably not have the shovel pass to Nick Vannett high on the play list. 

- OHIO STATE RUSHING DEFENSE: Although Michigan has not run it all that well lately, they are going to look to hurt Ohio State between the guards with DeVeon Smith, and go outside with Jabril Peppers. Much like the Ohio State O-line needs to control the middle of the field, Adolphus Washington, Tommy Schutt and Raekwon McMillan have to hold up. They got trucked last week by the MSU O-line. That better not happen again. If Harbaugh can get his running game going, even a little bit, it opens up the play action passing game with Jake Rudock. Ohio State has the talent to commit an extra defender, Tyvis Powell, to the run, and leave Eli Apple and Gareon Conley alone in coverage. While Ohio State absolutely has to run the football well to win, Michigan is not totally dependent on the run game. If Ohio State can take away the run and make Michigan one dimensional, it increases the chances of winning. 

- OHIO STATE PASS DEFENSE: With Michigan evolving into a passing team under Harbaugh, the back-seven needs to continue stay strong in coverage. Apple and Conley will have their hands full with Darboh and Chesson, and I think these two receivers are far better than people think. The cornerbacks will not get help, and need to hold up on their islands. Jake Butt is a stud at tight end, but Vonn Bell can match his talent. This should be a great matchup all day long, and one to watch. Michigan might try to exploit Ohio State by throwing the football to Peppers out of the backfield, and Darron Lee might not be able to blitz as often because he might be needed to shadow Peppers. This leads right to Joey Bosa. He has to play like Joey Bosa. Period. He needs to force Michigan to account for him with another blocker, allowing Washington or Sam Hubbard to get loose. Look for Bosa to be used inside on passing downs, to get another pass rusher on the field. If Ohio State can pressure Rudock with only four, it's going to be tough for Michigan to move it through the air. The strength of the Chris Ash defense has been the ability to stop the pass, and that's why he was hired. 

- HOW WILL THE GAME BE PLAYED? The biggest key to the game for me is Elliott being able to run the football, and whoever wins this matchup will win the game. And it's not that Elliott needs to run for 250 yards as much as he needs 30 carries. Ohio State needs Michigan to commit defenders to Elliott, which will open up the zone read on the outside, and (hopefully) some semblance of a passing game. Even if Michigan is stopping Zeke early, Ohio State needs to not panic (like last week) but stay with it. If Zeke gets established, Ohio State could play two quarterbacks should they choose. The inside run could let Jones throw it downfield with success, and also open up the option with Barrett on the outside. I can definitely see both QB's being used in this game, but neither will be effective if Elliott is ignored. With the running game moving, it keeps the defense from wearing out (like last week), and it tilts time of possession to Ohio State. 

- HIGH SCORING OR LOW SCORING? These two defenses are too good to see an offensive explosion, in my opinion. Either team hitting 28-30 points will win this game. I think it will be a field position game, with a lot of running plays. For Ohio State, the hope has to be that the game does not come down to a field goal, because both kickers have been beyond shaky. Jalin Marshall has been close to returning several punts for touchdowns this year, and he has also had trouble fielding punts. A big play by him, either way, could shift momentum. I think it's going to be old-fashioned, hard-hitting, defensive football. 

- WHO WINS THIS GAME? This is a tough call, because it's so hard to find an edge. The coaches are both used to winning big games. In the end, it seems like Meyer is at his best as an underdog on the road, and that's what he is in this game. He's especially dangerous after being embarrassed, and make no mistake, he got schooled last week by Dantonio. I think there are a lot of players on the Ohio State side that will be playing Michigan for the last time, including several underclassmen. This was the number-one team in the country only a week ago, and I think they can put the Michigan State loss behind them. These players have won a lot of big games in their careers, and this might be the edge over Michigan. 

- THE PREDICTION: I'm going to go with OHIO STATE 28  MICHIGAN 24. 

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