As of right now, the Ohio State football team is undefeated on the year at 11-0. However, it wasn't a cake walk for the Buckeyes to enter the 13th week of college football unblemished. The team had to adapt to a new offensive system, and it had an immense amount of growing pains to overcome following a season when it only went 6-7.
With Ohio State's bowl ban this year, the only team standing in the way of their undefeated season is their arch rival, the Michigan Wolverines. While five of Ohio State's victories have been decided by seven points or less and two of them were decided in overtime, the Buckeyes have been tested in many ways so far this season.
Here are five reasons why Michigan will be the hardest team for the Buckeyes to beat this year.
I'm sure you are all familiar with the phrase "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger".
Well, the Wolverines were just about killed in their game versus Alabama. Things didn't get too much easier just three weeks later when they had to travel to South Bend, Indiana to take on the fighting Irish.
Ironically, those two teams are now ranked No. 1 and No. 2 in the current BCS standings.
Seeing as how Michigan has faced two teams that are a little tougher than Ohio State on paper, they may be a little more feisty than anyone the undefeated Bucks have seen this season.
The same can't be said about the Buckeyes to Michigan—whether they're undefeated or not.
With Denard Robinson's injury, backup quarterback Devin Gardner has been thrown in the mix of things and he has looked very sharp so far. While the Buckeyes haven't really seen much tape on Gardner this season, with the little bit of promise he has shown so far, he may be the single biggest threat the Wolverines have on offense.
On the flip side, Robinson is still a part of Michigan's game plan. The Bucks need to keep their eyes on him at all times. He has the unique ability to run the ball out of the backfield, line up at wide receiver, make a significant impact catching footballs and pass the football downfield.
I guess you could call him a triple-threat quarterback.
Knowing that you have a perfect record going into what will be your final game of the year, it's always tough to end the season with a win no matter who you're playing.
When you're trying to finish the year off with a zero in the loss column versus your arch rival, it just makes things that much more difficult, especially when that team happens to be the 19th ranked team in the land.
Even though the Wolverines have lost three games this season, their defense has been solid. Alabama is the only team that has scored over 40 points against them, there has been only one team beside Alabama (Northwestern) who put up 30 or more points against them and they are currently ranked 12th in the country in terms of total yards allowed.
The Buckeyes haven't seen many defenses like the Wolverines', and I think it will be apparent in the first half of the game on Saturday. The Buckeyes will adjust to it, however, and put up some big yards in the second half, though.
No matter what either team's record is or how things look on paper going into this contest, anything can happen in this rivalry. Ohio State is still and always will be Ohio State, and the same goes for Michigan.
You know, "the winningest program in all of college football".
Even a few years ago when the Wolverines were 3-8 going into their contest against the Buckeyes, it was still the biggest game of the year for Ohio State.
Why? Because it's simply the Michigan game. That will never change as long as this rivalry stands.
There are many honors and individual awards given out in college football. But for the Buckeyes, there's no greater honor than to receive those gold pants that are given after beating that team up north.
A lot of current players don't have a set of gold pants and they will be hungry to retrieve them.
I can't wait to see the game this Saturday; I love seeing Ohio State play Michigan just like fat kids love cake!