The Michigan vs. Ohio State game is set to kickoff at 12 p.m. ET on ABC this coming Saturday for the 109th time in history. The Buckeyes have marched to an undefeated record and are one game away from a perfect season, while Michigan is fighting for an outside shot at the Big Ten title game.
Even though the Buckeyes are banned from postseason play and this game is just for pride, they won’t break a sweat when they beat the Wolverines in Columbus this coming Saturday.
Urban Meyer has worked wonders in his first season with Ohio State, leading the Buckeyes to an unlikely 11-0 run through the 2012 season. Michigan had high expectations entering the year at No. 8, but a big loss to Alabama and struggles against other Big Ten foes have led to the Wolverines falling to No. 19 in the BCS.
Because of the postseason ban on the Buckeyes, they are not ranked in the BCS, but the AP has them as the No. 4 team in the country. If this were a bowl eligible team, they would be in the No. 1 position preparing for the national title.
While both teams lead the Big Ten this year, this contest favors the Buckeyes for a number of reasons. It starts with the quarterback.
Braxton Miller will Outplay Robinson and Gardner
Miller was expected to be a major piece of the Buckeyes offense this season, but he was expected to have growing pains in the first year in the Urban Meyer offense. Instead, Miller has looked like a veteran under Meyer’s guidance.
When talking dual-threat quarterbacks in college football, Miller typically starts the conversations. He has been a force through the air and on the ground this season, tossing 14 touchdown passes and rushing for 13 more.
He also has six games with over 100 yards rushing. He has 1,850 passing yards and 1,214 rushing yards this season. He is on his way to becoming one of the rare members of the 2,000/1,000 club this year.
Looking across the field at Michigan, it’s apparent that there are some deficiencies at quarterback. Denard Robinson was expected to have a better year than Miller, but injuries and inconsistent play have pushed him to the bottom of the Big Ten barrel.
Robinson has only nine touchdown passes this season. He has also tossed nine interceptions. The past few games an elbow injury has kept him from starting, but he has earned time at running back for the Wolverines. That may be his best position for contribution moving forward.
Devin Gardner stepped in at quarterback for the Wolverines against Minnesota, and he has played the best three games that the position has seen in three years. Gardner has the ability to move in the pocket as well, helping him add a dual-threat dimension to the position.
As well as Gardner has played, he has yet to face a defense and environment that will come in Columbus. Gardner is a junior, so this won’t be his first trip to the Horseshoe, but it will be the first time he is leading the offense when he takes the field.
The Braxton Miller advantage is clear in this game, and it will be a big part of the win for Ohio State.
Michigan D is Only Shot at Wolverines Win
The Michigan defense has played well on average this season, but it has had more than its fair share of letdowns as well. One of them is set to happen again in Columbus this weekend.
The Michigan defense had issues against the strong offensive line of Alabama and Nebraska, and they struggled to stop the Air Force speed option.
The Buckeyes will bring both strengths to the field, challenging the Michigan defense on the perimeter and through the air. This Ohio State team has the speed to make the edge and control the game with its rushing attack.
Michigan will need its best performance of the season on defense. It will be an impossible win for the Wolverines if they don’t.
The Buckeyes Own Columbus
The last time that Michigan was able to win in Columbus was 2000. The past five meetings in the Horseshoe have been owned by the hometown Buckeyes, and there is no indication that will change this fall.
It will be a tough environment for Michigan to take a three-game veteran quarterback into a walk away with a win. The Wolverines are overmatched against the Buckeyes, and no amount of rivalry magic will save them this season.
This Ohio State team is playing with passion and purpose as it heads into the season finale with rival Michigan at home. This team is playing for pride and has the chance to pull off a very special season, despite this being the end of the road for this team.
This is the Buckeyes' bowl game. Unless Michigan plays better than they have all year, they will fall hard to Ohio State this weekend in Columbus.