* Date, Time: Sat., Nov. 20; 1 p.m. (Eastern)
* Location: Ohio Stadium
* TV: ABC; Announcers: Brent Musberger, Gary Danielson, Jack Arute.
* 2004 Records, Rankings: Ohio State, 6-4 overall, 3-5 Big Ten, unranked; Michigan, 9-1 overall, 7-0 Big Ten, ranked seventh in Associated Press poll and ESPN/USA Today coaches poll.
* Coaches: Ohio State, Jim Tressel (fourth year at OSU, 38-11; 19th year overall, 173-68-2; vs. Michigan, 2-1); Michigan, Lloyd Carr (10th year at UM, 95-27; vs. Ohio State, 6-3).
* Series History: Michigan leads 57-37-6, including 27-20-2 in Columbus. (UM won 35-21 in Ann Arbor last year.).
* Michigan Schedule: Sept. 4, Miami (Ohio), W 43-10; Sept. 11, at Notre Dame, L 28-20; Sept. 18, San Diego State, W 24-21; Sept. 25, Iowa, W 30-17; Oct. 2, at Indiana, W 35-14; Oct. 9, Minnesota, W 27-24; Oct. 16, at Illinois, W 30-19; Oct. 23, at Purdue, W 16-14; Oct. 30, Michigan State, W 45-37 (3 OT); Nov. 13, Northwestern, W 42-20; Nov. 20, at Ohio State.
* Michigan Key Players: QB Chad Henne (195 of 311 passing, 2,188 yards, 19 TDs, 10 INTs), RB Michael Hart (243 carries, 1,311 yards, 8 TDs), WR Braylon Edwards (76 catches, 1,049 yards, 11 TDs), WR Jason Avant (34 catches, 407 yards, 2 TDs), WR Steve Breaston (27 catches, 197 yards, 2 TDs), SS Ernest Shazor (72 tackles, 10 TFLs, 2 INTs), ILB Lawrence Reid (55 tackles, 9 TFLs, 1 INT), OLB LaMarr Woodley (47 tackles, 10 TFLs, 4 sacks), CB Marlin Jackson (34 tackles, I INT), DE Patrick Massey (32 tackles, 5 sacks).
* Michigan Fast Facts: Location: Ann Arbor, Mich.; Enrollment, 36,787; Nickname, Wolverines; Colors, Maize and Blue; Stadium, Michigan Stadium (surface, FieldTurf; capacity, 107,501).
Ohio State Offense
SE 8 Roy Hall, 6-3, 228. So.
18 Devon Lyons, 6-4, 214, Fr.
LT 77 Rob Sims, 6-4, 310, Jr.
71 Steve Rehring, 6-8, 315, Fr.
LG 50 Doug Datish, 6-5, 295, So.
59 John Conroy, 6-3, 295, Jr.
C 55 Nick Mangold, 6-4, 290, Jr.
73 Steve Winner, 6-6, 290, Jr.
RG 52 Mike Kne, 6-4, 303, Sr.
72 T.J. Downing, 6-5, 305, So.
RT 74 Kirk Barton, 6-6, 305, Fr.
68 Tim Schafer, 6-5, 290, So.
TE 80 Ryan Hamby, 6-5, 250, Jr.
81 R.J. Coleman, 6-5, 295, So.
FL 4 Santonio Holmes, 5-11, 185, So.
7 Ted Ginn Jr., 6-0, 170, Fr.
QB 10 Troy Smith, 6-1, 215, So.
12 Justin Zwick, 6-4, 225, So.
TB 28 Maurice Hall, 5-10, 205, Sr.
30 Lydell Ross, 6-0, 225, Sr.
25 Antonio Pittman, 5-11, 190, Fr.
FB 49 Dionte Johnson, 6-0, 220, Fr.
38 Branden Joe, 6-2, 250, Jr.
K 85 Mike Nugent, 5-10, 180, Sr.
23 Josh Huston, 6-1, 195, Sr.
Ohio State Defense
DE 75 Simon Fraser, 6-6, 280, Sr.
99 Jay Richardson, 6-6, 270, So.
DT 94 Marcus Green, 6-3, 290, Jr.
97 David Patterson, 6-3, 285, So.
DT 90 Quinn Pitcock, 6-3, 295, So.
98 Joel Penton, 6-5, 275, So.
DE 57 Mike Kudla, 6-3, 265, Jr.
50 Vernon Gholston, 6-4, 250, Fr.
SLB 42 Bobby Carpenter, 6-3, 255, Jr.
17 Marcus Freeman, 6-2, 230, Fr.
MLB 51 Anthony Schlegel, 6-2, 245, Jr.
46 Chad Hoobler, 6-3, 215, Fr.
WLB 47 A.J. Hawk, 6-1, 238, Jr.
1 Thomas Matthews, 6-2, 220, Sr.
CB 26 Ashton Youboty, 6-1, 188, So.
13 Harlen Jacobs, 6-1, 197, Sr.
FS 32 Brandon Mitchell, 6-3, 205, So.
21 Nate Salley, 6-3, 215, Jr.
SS 6 Tyler Everett, 5-11, 196, Jr.
30 Sirjo Welch, 6-0, 185, Fr.
CB 37 Dustin Fox, 6-0, 190, Sr.
29 E.J. Underwood, 6-1, 175, Jr.
P 86 Kyle Turano, 6-0, 205, Sr.
23 Josh Huston, 6-1, 195, Sr.
LS 60 Kyle Andrews, 5-11, 245, Sr.
68 Drew Norman, 6-0, 230, So.
WR 1 Braylon Edwards, 6-3, 208, Sr.
15 Steve Breaston, 6-1, 174, Jr.
LT 79 Adam Stenavich, 6-5, 318, Sr.
76 Mike Kolodziej, 6-7, 324, Jr.
LG 72 Rueben Riley, 6-3, 311, Jr.
57 Adam Kraus, 6-6, 301, So.
C 75 Davis Baas, 6-5, 323, Sr.
54 Mark Bihl, 6-4, 302, Jr.
RG 67 Matt Lentz, 6-6, 300, Sr.
57 Adam Kraus, 6-6, 301, So.
RT 77 Jake Long, 6-7, 335, So.
76 Mike Kolodziej, 6-7, 324, Jr.
TE 88 Tim Massaquoi, 6-4, 247, Sr.
89 Tyler Ecker, 6-6, 249, Jr.
QB 7 Chad Henne, 6-2, 217, Fr.
10 Clayton Richard, 6-4, 232, So.
FL 8 Jason Avant, 6-1, 203, Jr.
17 Carl Tabb, 6-2, 194, Jr.
FB 32 Kevin Dudley, 6-1, 236, Sr.
40 Obi Oluigbo, 6-0, 234, Jr.
TB 20 Mike Hart, 5-9, 194, Fr.
23 Max Martin, 6-1, 201, Fr.
K 38 Garrett Rivas, 5-9, 216, So.
DE 96 Larry Harrison, 6-3, 299, Jr.
91 Rondell Biggs, 6-2, 264, Jr.
DT 78 Gabe Watson, 6-4, 333, Jr.
93 Alex Ofili, 6-4, 290, Sr.
DE 94 Pat Massey, 6-8, 276, Sr.
92 Will Paul, 6-3, 261, So.
OLB 58 Roy Manning, 6-2, 246, Sr.
2 Shawn Crable, 6-5, 233, So.
ILB 42 Lawrence Reid, 6-1, 222, Sr.
6 Prescott Burgess, 6-3, 232, So.
ILB 36 Scott McClintock, 6-2, 243, Sr.
59 Joey Sarantos, 6-3, 225, Sr.
OLB 56 LaMarr Woodley, 6-2, 263, So.
99 Pierre Woods, 6-5, 245, Sr.
SS 25 Ernest Shazor, 6-4, 229, Sr.
22 Jamar Adams, 6-2, 201, Fr.
CB 3 Marlin Jackson, 6-1, 196, Sr.
4 Darnell Hood, 5-11, 191, Jr.
FS 21 Ryan Mundy, 6-1, 200, So.
31 Brandent Englemon, 5-11, 195, So.
CB 29 Leon Hall, 5-11, 191, So.
30 Markus Curry, 5-11, 182, Sr.
P 39 Adam Finley, 6-4, 208, Sr.
* This will be the 101st rendition of what an ESPN.com survey once dubbed as the greatest rivalry of the 20th century in all of sports.
* A year ago, Michigan won the Big Ten championship outright with a 35-21 victory in Ann Arbor. The win denied Ohio State a piece of the crown and very likely a spot in the BCS national championship game at the Sugar Bowl. (OSU was No. 2 in the BCS standings at the time of the loss.)
Quarterback John Navarre threw for 278 yards and a pair of touchdowns to Braylon Edwards, while tailback Chris Perry carried for 154 yards and two touchdowns for UM.
* Two years ago, OSU clinched a perfect 13-0 regular season, a piece of the Big Ten championship and a berth in the BCS national title game at the Fiesta Bowl with a 14-9 win over Michigan before an Ohio Stadium-record crowd of 105,539. Maurice Clarett and Maurice Hall had rushing touchdowns for OSU. Will Allen intercepted Navarre on the final play at the goal line to turn the Wolverines away.
* OSU coach Jim Tressel has a chance to join Earle Bruce and Woody Hayes as OSU coaches who went 3-1 in their first four games against Michigan. Francis Schmidt is the only OSU coach to win his first four games against UM (1934-37).
* This will mark the 35th time OSU has played Michigan when it was ranked in the AP top 10 since the inception of the poll in 1936. OSU is 9-21-4 against top-10 ranked Michigan teams.
In fact, Michigan is 8-0-1 against Ohio State when UM is a top-10 team since OSU's 14-9 win over then-No. 7 Michigan in 1981. (The tie was a 13-13 decision in 1992.)
And the numbers aren't much better when Michigan is a top-10 team and OSU is unranked – as will be the case Saturday. UM holds a commanding 6-1 edge in such games with that 1981 game the only OSU win.
* Since the OSU-Michigan game was moved to the end of the season in 1935, this will mark the 19th time the Wolverines will be in search of an unbeaten Big Ten season when they tackle the Buckeyes.
Michigan's record in such games is 9-7-2. UM completed unbeaten Big Ten seasons with wins over OSU in 1943, 1947, 1948, 1971, 1980, 1988, 1989, 1991 and 1997. OSU spoiled UM unbeaten league seasons with wins in 1968, 1970, 1972, 1974, 1975, 1982 and 1998. The teams tied in this situation in 1973 and 1992 (UM had another tie previously).
* Michigan has already clinched at least a share of what will be its 42nd Big Ten championship. A win over OSU would give UM a second consecutive outright title and 17th overall.
A Michigan loss would assure the winner of the Wisconsin-Iowa game, which starts at 4:30 p.m., a share of the Big Ten title. That would give UM 26 shared titles.
Ohio State is next with 29 overall titles (15 outright, 14 shared). Next on the list is Minnesota with 18.
* Michigan built its commanding lead in the series by going 13-0-2 in the first 15 meetings between 1897 and 1918.
But over the last 50 years, the series is dead even at 24-24-2.
* Nine UM players are from Ohio. Some of the notables are OL Mark Bihl, ILB Prescott Burgess, OLB Shawn Crable, DE Pat Massey, TE Mike Massey, ILB Lawrence Reid and OLB Pierre Woods.
* Click the link below to view our exhaustive look at the history of the Ohio State-Michigan rivalry.
Breaking It Down
* When Ohio State Has The Ball: We've been down on the OSU offense all season and with good reason. The Buckeyes are ranked 108th out of 118 Division I-A teams at 300.1 yards per game. But after going five straight games without gaining 100 yards on the ground, OSU has had no fewer than 143 yards rushing in its last four games. Things are perking up a bit, although OSU has all but abandoned the power running plays in favor of more creative running plays (quarterback draws, the option and reverses).
The Buckeyes have to hope that Maurice Hall and/or Antonio Pittman can muster at least a few yards against UM's stingy rush defense (20th nationally, 113.1 yards per game). Look for more of the same that has worked for OSU of late with quarterback Troy Smith also figuring in the running attack.
Michigan brings the nation's 21st-best defense (314.5 ypg) into this game. Only Michigan State and Minnesota – the Big Ten's top two rated offenses – have eclipsed 20 points on UM in Big Ten play. So yards and points will be at a premium for OSU. The hope is obviously that Smith can team up with Santonio Holmes and/or Ted Ginn Jr. to make a big play or two. Remember, Holmes torched UM for two TDs in the comeback last year at Ann Arbor, so his comfort level should be high. A win would cement Smith's status as the OSU starting quarterback for many months to come – as it did for Craig Krenzel after his improbable win over UM in 2001.
* When Michigan Has The Ball: Yes, UM is a juggernaut. The Wolverines lead the Big Ten in scoring at 31.2 points per game (29th nationally). The balance is pretty good as UM ranks 50th nationally in rushing (164.7) and 47th in passing (224.0). Everybody knows about the true freshmen, quarterback Chad Henne and tailback Michael Hart, who have beaten the odds to help lead UM to a Big Ten title. And it appears that senior receiver Braylon Edwards will be earning some All-American honors for the big plays he's brought to the table.
OSU's dinged up defense just could not slam the door last week against Purdue. The hope has to be that the front seven can contain Hart, who loves the cutback. If the Buckeyes can keep him in check – and that's a big if because Hart has had five straight 100-yard games – they will have a fighting chance.
But if the Buckeyes can't find a way to put the game into Henne's hands, they can probably forget it. OSU's best hope is to stop the run and pressure Henne into mistakes. They can't afford any more breakdowns, dropped interceptions and uncovered fumbles. If UM opens the door, Ohio State has to barge through it and win the game. The Buckeyes need to be opportunistic. It will help if Dustin Fox, Donte Whitner and Nate Salley can all go – even if it's only for half the game.
Only Purdue held Michigan under 20 points, and UM still won that game 16-14. The Buckeyes need their best game yet.
* How It Will Go: A funny thing happened to me on Sunday. I woke up and went on the GoBlueWolverine.com radio show. The loss to Purdue was still fresh in my head. I was dwelling on the four OSU turnovers; I was conflicted by PU's mastery of the OSU defense with three long touchdown drives. When asked at the end of my segment who I would pick this week, I said, "I don't know how Ohio State will win this game."
But as I got to thinking about it, I realized that Ohio State could certainly win this game. Don't get me wrong, it sure seems unlikely as I sit here. OSU has yet to play a complete game against a quality opponent. Even their two signature wins – at N.C. State and at Michigan State – were replete with flaws.
I'm going to start by saying that the Buckeyes need their home crowd to help lift them toward victory. I'm going to add that Smith, provided he is on and takes care of the ball, can pull this off. I'm going to assume that Holmes and/or Ginn will find a way to get loose and make a big play. I am emboldened by the fact that UM has averaged only 25.2 points per game on the road, compared to a robust 40.3 average in the Big House. That tells me the Wolverines are much more conservative when they go on the road. That type of game plan should keep OSU in this thing for the long haul.
My favorite refrain for the last two years has been "look for a late Mike Nugent field goal." I'm down to two games where I can make that prediction. How fitting would it be to see No. 85 hit a Wilson football like a 3-iron 50-some yards into the back of the net as time expires? That would be something to see, wouldn't it? Oh well, whether that's how it ends or not, I've got it: Ohio State 20-17
For The Record: I am now 5-5 straight-up on OSU this season and 3-7 against-the-spread. (UM is favored by 5-1/2 points this week).
Also For The Record: On this week's Bucknuts Radio Hour, it was a clean sweep for Ohio State. Mr. Bucknuts picked OSU 21-17, Jerry Rudzinski had OSU 24-22 and Kirk Larrabee picked the Buckeyes 21-20.
-- Steve Helwagen