Crunching The Numbers: The Game

Among the things we are counting this week are the Ohioans dressing up as Wolverines this week (and vice versa), Chris Wells' lead in the race for the conference rushing title and each coach's record against the nation's best teams.

Ohio State tailback Chris Wells leads the Big Ten in rushing during conference play by one yard. The Buckeye known as "Beanie" has 900 yards in seven conference games while Michigan State's Javon Ringer has 899.

In conference play, Ohio State and Michigan hold the top two spots in six statistical categories. The Buckeyes are No. 1 and followed by Michigan in pass defense, total defense, scoring defense and opponent first downs. The Wolverines lead the way with the Buckeyes second in pass efficiency defense and opponent third-down percentage.

There are three Buckeyes from the state of Michigan: safety Aaron Gant (Orchard Lake St. Mary's), defensive end Vernon Gholston (Detroit Cass Tech) and wide receiver Taurian Washington (Orchard Lake St. Mary's). Gholston is a starter while Gant is a backup.

Ohio State has won the last three against the Wolverines. A win this week would allow the Buckeyes to tie their best winning streak in the series. They won four a row from 1934-37 and 1960-63.

Jim Tressel is 5-1 against Michigan. The only Ohio State coach with more than five wins in the series is Woody Hayes (16).

An Ohio State win Saturday would be the Buckeyes' sixth since the turn of the century and clinch the school's third winning decade in the series, which began in 1897. The Buckeyes posted a 7-3 record against Michigan in the 1960s and went 5-4-1 in the ‘70s. The two teams won five meetings apiece in both the ‘30s and ‘50s.

There are eight Wolverines from Ohio: offensive lineman Justin Boren (Pickerington North), linebacker Shawn Crable (Massillon Washington), cornerback Brandon Harrison (Dayton Chaminade-Julienne), wide receiver Mario Manningham (Warren Harding), tight end Mike Massey (Brecksville – Cleveland St. Ignatius), punter Zoltan Mesko (Twinsburg), running back Mike Milano (Rocky River) and kicker Bryan Wright (Salem). Boren, Crable, Manningham, Harrison and Mesko are starters.

Nine Michiganders start for Lloyd Carr's team along with five Ohioans. Fourteen Ohioans (10 on offense) start for Jim Tressel's squad along with one Michigander.

Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel is 8-3 against Top 10 teams. Michigan head coach Lloyd Carr is 17-8 in such contests, a mark that includes wins in his first nine.

Ohio State is 11th in the conference in kickoff return average (14.9 yards). Michigan is 10th (17.8).

Since being moved the the final game of the season in 1935, The Game has clinched or cost at least a share of the Big Ten title for one of the teams 42 times. This year will be the 21st time in which the Buckeyes and Wolverines have decided the conference championship exclusively between themselves.

Saturday will mark the 90th consecutive year Ohio State and Michigan have played each other on the gridiron.

Manningham has a commanding lead over all competition for the Big Ten lead in receiving yards per game (conference games only). He averages 120.6 while Michigan State's Devin Thomas is No. 2 at 102.4. Thomas leads the conference in catches with Manningham right behind him.

Woody Hayes' first Ohio State team lost to Michigan 7-0 in 1951, beginning a stretch from then to the present in which the Buckeyes lead the series 28-26-2. Michigan leads the series overall 57-40-6, including 13 wins and two ties in the first 15 meetings.

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