Ohio State Football: Predicting the Outcome of Buckeyes' Final Two Games
Weak and/or uncertain quarterback play makes the Ohio State Buckeyes' final two opponents a little easier to handle. This team has things aligned nicely to achieve a perfect season.
The rest of the Big Ten conference has to have some desire to knock the Buckeyes off their perch. The team can't represent the conference in the postseason; if the Buckeyes run the table, the teams that play for the Big 10 title won't get as much respect because Ohio State won't truly represent the best of the conference.
The Wisconsin Badgers will have the first shot at adding a blemish to the Buckeyes' record.
Defeating the Badgers at Camp Randall Stadium is always a difficult task. They have lost only two games at home in four years and the last time the Buckeyes beat them away from Ohio was in 2008.
Wisconsin has had issues with consistency this season—especially while facing the better teams on their schedule. They have been stout against the run in most games with the exception of the 259 yards they surrendered to Taylor Martinez and the Nebraska Cornhuskers.
The Cornhuskers' quarterback ran for 58 yards and threw for 166 in that game.
The Buckeyes bring the eighth-ranked rushing attack into Camp Randall, augmented by the presence of Braxton Miller at quarterback.
Miller is a better runner than Martinez, and a far better passer. Considering the success the Cornhuskers had against the Badgers' defense, the Buckeyes shouldn't have any issues moving the ball.
It will comes down to the Buckeyes' ability to stop the Badgers' running game. Montee Ball hasn't had the type of season he had in 2011, but he has still rushed for 1,226 yards and 16 touchdowns.
The Buckeyes must contain the run to pull out the road victory.
Forcing newly appointed starter Curt Phillips to beat them is the obvious key to success. Phillips is a senior, but his lack of in-game experience (19 pass attempts in four years) will show in this game. The Buckeyes will win 35-17.
Perhaps the most spirited and exciting game is the finale with the Michigan Wolverines. Because this game takes place in Columbus, it will not be the most difficult game on the schedule for the Buckeyes.
Michigan has had issues at the quarterback position. Denard Robinson has been injured, and when he's been healthy he hasn't been consistent. He's thrown as many interceptions as touchdowns this season (9), and that level of play is beneath what most expected of him this year.
The Wolverines are only 2-2 on the road this season and 2-3 away from Ann Arbor. In those five games away from the Big House, the Wolverines have turned the ball over 14 times.
Most of those numbers were compiled while Robinson was under center, but it seems that Devin Gardner may have taken his place as the starter. Gardner has played the last 2.5 games, and the Wolverines have won both.
Brady Hoke won't commit to that publicly and Gardner says it is still Robinson's team (per Detroit Free Press), but one has to wonder if Robinson will return to the starting lineup when he's healed from the injury he suffered against Nebraska on October 27.
Would Hoke really sit the senior Robinson in the last game of his college career—against the school's biggest rival?
How will the Buckeyes finish the season?
I don't know, but there is too much uncertainty around this Wolverines' team right now. Overall, the year has been a disappointing one for them, and that is not the ideal way to come into this rivalry.
Barring injuries that change the landscape of the matchup, the Buckeyes will defeat the Wolverines, 30-10.
I see them finishing this season 12-0, and though they can't reap the benefits of a perfect season as a team this year, it will bolster Miller's Heisman campaign.
He's having an amazing year, and the team's success only makes it more impressive.
It will also strengthen what is already a strong recruiting stance from Urban Meyer. This program showed no ill-affects from the one-year ban when securing talent this past offseason.
Imagine how strong they would be after a perfect season. The prospects for the Buckeyes in 2013 look great and they could very well be a top three preseason team next season.
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