Michigan vs. Ohio State: Complete Game Preview
It's that time of year, the time where life in Ohio and Michigan stops for just three hours.
It's Ohio State and Michigan. What else needs to be said?
The Buckeyes will end their season against their archrival on Saturday regardless of outcome due to NCAA sanctions, while the Wolverines need a win and some help to clinch the Legends Division championship.
Needless to say, there are all sorts of dynamics in this game, from Denard Robinson's last game against the Buckeyes to the first of possibly many matchups between Brady Hoke and Urban Meyer.
Here is a full game preview for "The Game."
Who: Michigan at Ohio State.
Where: Ohio Stadium: "The Horseshoe" (102,309); Columbus, Ohio.
When: Saturday, Noon ET.
TV: ABC; Sean McDonough, play-by-play; Chris Spielman, color.
Ohio Radio: Akron: 1590 AM; Cincinnati: 1480 AM; Cleveland: 850 AM; Columbus: 1460 AM, 97.1 FM; Toledo: 1470 AM; Youngstown: 1390 AM.
Michigan Radio: Ann Arbor: 1050 AM; Detroit: 97.1 FM, 950 AM; Grand Rapids: 1300 AM; Toledo (Ohio): 100.7 FM.
Satellite: Sirius 86 (Michigan broadcast), Sirius 91 (Ohio State broadcast).
Depth Chart for Michigan
Quarterback: Denard Robinson/Devin Gardner
Running Back: Thomas Rawls, Vincent Smith
Fullback: Stephen Hopkins, Joe Kerridge
Wide Receiver: Roy Roundtree, Jeremy Gallon, Devin Gardner, Drew Dileo
Tight End: Mike Kwiatowski, Devin Funchess
Offensive Tackle: Taylor Lewan, Michael Schofield, Erik Magnuson, Erik Gunderson
Offensive Guard: Ricky Barnum, Patrick Omameh, Joey Burzynski, Kyle Kalis
Center: Elliott Mealer, Jack Miller
Defensive End: Frank Clark, Craig Roh, Brennen Beyer, Keith Heitzman
Defensive Tackle: Will Campbell, Quinton Washington, Jibreel Black, Ondre Pipkins
Linebacker: Kenny Demens, Desmond Morgan, Jake Ryan, Joe Bolden, James Ross III, Cameron Gordon
Cornerback: J.T. Floyd, Raymon Taylor, Courtney Avery, Delonte Hollowell
Safety: Jordan Kovacs, Thomas Gordon, Marvin Robinson, Jarrod Wilson
Depth Chart for Ohio State
Quarterback: Braxton Miller, Kenny Guiton
Running Back: Carlos Hyde, Rod Smith
Wide Receiver: Corey "Philly" Brown, Devin Smith, Jake Stoneburner, Evan Spencer, Michael Thomas, Chris Fields
Tight End: Jeff Heuerman, Nick Vannett
Offensive Tackle: Jack Mewhort, Reid Fragel, Darryl Baldwin, Taylor Decker
Offensive Guard: Andrew Norwell, Marcus Hall, Antonio Underwood, Chase Farris
Center: Corey Linsley, Jacoby Boren
Defensive End: John Simon, Nathan Williams, Noah Spence, Michael Bennett
Defensive Tackle: Johnathan Hankins, Garrett Goebel, Joel Hale, Adolphus Washington
Linebacker: Ryan Shazier, Zach Boren, Etienne Sabino, Josh Perry, Curtis Grant, Conner Crowell
Cornerback: Bradley Roby, Travis Howard, Doran Grant, Adam Griffin
Safety: C.J. Barnett, Christian Bryant, Orhian Johnson, Corey Brown
What Happened to the Wolverines Last Week?
Michigan made short work of Iowa on Senior Day in the Big House 42-17 behind yet another spectacular performance by Devin Gardner.
Gardner threw for 314 yards, ran for 37 yards and accounted for all six touchdowns for the Wolverines.
Unfortunately, the win came at a price, as Fitzgerald Toussaint suffered a horrible knee injury early in the game. He will not play against Ohio State, meaning Thomas Rawls will get the road start.
What Happened to the Buckeyes Last Week?
Ohio State somehow remains undefeated despite being outgained and outplayed for most of the second half.
Despite giving up a late Wisconsin touchdown, the Buckeyes downed the Badgers in overtime 21-14 to keep their dreams of a perfect season and an AP national championship alive.
Wisconsin completely shut down Braxton Miller and the Buckeyes offense, but they were held to just 14 points despite star Montee Ball carrying the ball 39 times for 191 yards and a touchdown.
What It Means to Both Teams
The Wolverines need a win and a Nebraska loss to play for the Big Ten Championship next week in Indianapolis against the Wisconsin Badgers.
Their main concern will be to win two straight over the Buckeyes, something they haven't done since 1999 and 2000. Plus, it would mean the world for Brady Hoke to claim a win over Urban Meyer in Columbus.
For Ohio State
Again, Ohio State can only play for two things: perfection and revenge.
Ohio State hasn't lost to Michigan since 2003 until last season when they fell on the road 40-34 despite a big game by Braxton Miller.
Urban Meyer gets his first crack at the Wolverines, and his first season, even if it ends 11-1, will be tarnished by losing at home to Michigan.
Key Player for Michigan: RB Thomas Rawls
Denard Robinson is going to get his in his final game against the Buckeyes. That's a given.
But if backup running back Thomas Rawls has a big game, a la Fitzgerald Toussaint last year, the Wolverines will find it much easier to get a road win over the Buckeyes.
Rawls has rushed for 240 yards on 52 carries and will likely get more.
He will get plenty of action because it's uncertain how Hoke will divide snaps between Robinson and Devin Gardner.
Key Player for Ohio State: QB Braxton Miller
Braxton Miller is the Ohio State offense, for better or worse. As we all know by now, the Buckeyes' potent offense goes as he goes.
Miller struggled tremendously against Wisconsin, but he should have a great game on his turf against a team that he threw for 235 yards and ran for 100 more against a year ago. Unfortunately for Michigan, he's gotten a lot better since then.
If he has yet another big game, he can pretty much punch his ticket to the Heisman Trophy presentation in New York. He probably won't win the trophy, but he should be in attendance with another eye-popping performance and win.
Michigan Will Win If...
Brady Hoke will find all sorts of ways to get Denard Robinson the football as he did against Iowa, to incredible success.
Ohio State hasn't had the most consistent defense and is very vulnerable to the run game in the back seven. That's something the Wolverines will try to exploit early and often.
On defense, Wisconsin gave Michigan the perfect blueprint: stop Braxton Miller from running, and you stop the Buckeyes offense.
Greg Mattison will try to apply all the pressure he can to frustrate Miller and create the mistakes necessary to get a win on the road.
Ohio State Will Win If...
This is Ohio State's national championship game, which means they will have to give it everything they have.
Urban Meyer was hired on Nov. 28, 2011, and the one-year anniversary is just four days after The Game. He's probably been coming up with different schemes and plays designed just for this game.
He knows what rivalries mean, just ask Georgia and Florida State.
As for the players, if Braxton Miller is on fire throwing the football, most defenses are going to have problems stopping the Buckeyes' potent attack.
This is the one Buckeye fans have had circled on their calendars since last year's loss and Meyer's initial press conference.
The sense among OSU fans is that, with Meyer's sense of the rivalry and the fact that the game is in Columbus, the Buckeyes have almost no chance to lose. If they do, the winter is going to be even longer.
The Buckeyes have looked very good and very bad, almost even in the same game. But they have usually followed up bad performances with great ones.
Expect another big day from Miller, but Michigan won't let Ohio State get away to a big lead. At the end of the day, Ohio State should be able to celebrate a 12-0 season.
Prediction: Ohio State 41, Michigan 28
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