View From The Fan: Ohio State vs. Michigan A Top-5 Matchup Again

BuckeyeSports.com subscriber Ben van Ooyen's weekly column "View From The Fan" continues with a preview of The Game as No. 2 Ohio State takes on No. 3 Michigan.

Thoughts on Last Week

I should’ve known the Buckeyes would struggle against Michigan State in bad weather. That game probably took a few years off my life as I watched in disbelief as the Spartans lined up for the two point conversion to take the lead in the fourth quarter. Thankfully they decided to test Ohio State's secondary instead of giving the ball to LJ Scott; otherwise I’m not sure the Buckeyes' struggling offense had it in them to drive down the field for another score.

The good news is, that game is over so we can move on and continue our journey to the playoff.

On Michigan

I drove up to Ohio this week for Thanksgiving with my family, and I’ll make a quick detour to Columbus to watch the Wolverines with my Buckeye family on Saturday. I’ve been at every home game against Michigan since 2000, and the Buckeyes are 7-1, with the lone loss coming in John Cooper’s last season at the helm. The Buckeyes are 4-0 against Michigan under Urban Meyer and 1-0 against the Wolverines’ current head coach Jim Harbaugh.

This game will come down to whose defense plays the best. Both offenses have regressed a bit since the beginning of the season, with the Buckeyes struggling to throw the ball, and Michigan trying to get a new quarterback ready in only two weeks’ time. Since Wilton Speight broke his collarbone in the Wolverines’ loss to Iowa, they’ll probably start John O’Korn at quarterback. He was 7-16 for only 59 yards last week against Indiana, and he struggled quite a bit when pressured. The Buckeyes defense will look to make him uncomfortable early and often to keep him off his game and force the Wolverines to rely on the run. The Wolverines have an impressive stable of running backs – De’Veon Smith, Chris Evans, Ty Isaac and Karan Higdon all have over 400 yards this season. I expect to see a lot of misdirection plays and running back screens out of the Wolverines to try to keep the Buckeye defense off balance.

The Buckeye offense needs to show up this week against the No. 1 defense in the country. The Wolverines allow only 245 yards per game of total offense for an average of 10.9 points per game. To be fair, Ohio State’s defense isn’t far behind – they’ve kept teams to 279 yards of offense and 13 points per game. I don’t expect a lot of big plays on either side of the ball, and this game will come down to the 4th quarter for sure. It might come down to which team has the ball last, so I just have to have faith J.T. Barrett can lead this team to victory in a must-win for the Buckeyes.

Prediction: Ohio State 24, Michigan 20

A Fan’s Playoff Standings

  1. Alabama – Alabama didn’t look that great against Chattanooga over the weekend, but that might be because they knew they only needed minimal effort to win that game. Auburn comes to town this weekend for the Iron Bowl, but even if Alabama loses, they will still go to the SEC title game against Florida. If they happen to lose both games ... chaos will ensue.
  2. Ohio State – It wasn’t pretty, but the Buckeyes escaped East Lansing with a 17-16 win and continue to play their way into the playoff discussion. Everything is on the line this week against Michigan – a loss and they don’t go; a win and a Penn State win, and things get dicey.
  3. Clemson – The Tigers just need to win against in-state foe South Carolina this week and then beat either UNC or Virginia Tech in the ACC Championship game to secure their berth in the playoff. South Carolina is having a down year, but don’t count them out in a rivalry game.
  4. Oklahoma – Why is Oklahoma here? They’re currently on an eight-game winning streak, and if they get by Oklahoma State next weekend, the Sooners will finish the season 10-2. They’ve improved enormously since their loss to Ohio State in the second week of the season, and Baker Mayfield, Dede Westbrook, Samaje Perine and Joe Mixon are a dangerous mix.

A Fan’s Heisman Standings

  1. Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville – Many people want to drop Jackson from the top spot after Louisville’s loss to Houston last Thursday. However, the Heisman goes to the best player in the nation, and Jackson is the only thing keeping Louisville in the discussion for a major bowl bid, so he still tops my list.
  2. Jalen Hurts, QB, Alabama – It wasn’t a great day for Hurts in their win over mighty Chattanooga, but he still had three passing touchdowns. He’s accounted for 30 touchdowns so far this season, and Alabama just needs to get by Auburn this weekend to finish the regular season undefeated yet again.
  3. Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma – The weather sidetracked Mayfield last weekend, but he still had 169 yards passing and two touchdowns. He also ran for two more – increasing his season total to 44 total touchdowns – while leading the Sooners on an eight-game winning streak.
  4. Curtis Samuel, H-back, Ohio State – If the Heisman goes to the most valuable player in the country, some might argue Curtis Samuel has been that for the Ohio State Buckeyes this year. He’s been a do-it-all back for the Buckeyes this season, racking up 650 rushing yards and 790 receiving yards for 14 total touchdowns.

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