When No. 4 Ohio State (AP Top 25) host the No. 19 Michigan Wolverines (BCS Standings) in Week 13 of the college football regular season, the Urban Meyer led Buckeyes team will be fighting for perfection and pride.
Due to NCAA sanctions (h/t ESPN), the Buckeyes are ineligible for a Big Ten Championship or a bowl game in 2012. Despite this ban, Meyer has Ohio State playing inspired football, and the team will not take too kindly to losing to its archrival, Michigan.
If the Buckeyes want to continue their perfect season and build for what could be an amazing 2013 campaign, they must beat the Wolverines on Saturday. These are the keys to that victory.
While this will end up being a defensive struggle, it is imperative to the Ohio State cause to get sophomore Braxton Miller playing well early in both the passing attack and the running game.
Meyer has tried to keep the balance of run and passing plays even, but Miller has 13 or fewer completions in each of his last six starts for the Buckeyes. With the Wolverines dominant front seven ready to stop the run, Miller will have to air it out.
With just seven touchdowns and four interceptions over the last eight games, Miller needs to prove to Meyer and the rest of his Ohio State teammates that he can use his arm to lead the team to victory when it counts.
Michigan’s secondary has looked weak at times in 2012, and the sophomore QB must make them pay if he wants to give his team the chance to win the game and stay perfect.
Defense, Defense, Defense!
The biggest key to victory for the Buckeyes is playing fundamental football and sticking to their strengths on the defensive side of the ball.
With the ultimate X-factor in Denard Robinson still in the lineup and Devin Gardner taking the majority of the snaps as the starting QB for the Wolverines, Ohio State must be ready for exotic play-calling from a Michigan team desperate to make a mark in the BCS.
Meyer will have his 34th-ranked defensive unit (23 points allowed per game) playing up to the task, but with games against Alabama and Notre Dame, the Wolverines will know how to attack the Buckeyes.
If the Buckeyes can bend, but manage not to break in the defensive end—holding Michigan to 20 or fewer points—Ohio State will win this game.
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