Michigan vs. Ohio State: Keys to Buckeyes Taking Down Wolverines in Horseshoe

Rick Weiner@RickWeinerNYFeatured ColumnistNovember 24, 2012

ANN ARBOR, MI - NOVEMBER 26: Denard Robinson #16 of the Michigan Wolverines tries to get around the tackle of Ryan Shazier #10 of the Ohio State Buckeyes at Michigan Stadium on November 26, 2011 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Michigan won the game 40-34. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

It's "The Game," the one that everyone circles on their calendar at the beginning of the season.

Michigan vs. Ohio State.

While this game marks the end of Ohio State's 2012 season, thanks to NCAA sanctions that prohibit them from participating in the postseason, the Buckeyes are playing for more than pride—they are looking to not only become the sixth team in school history to finish the season undefeated, but to spoil Michigan's hopes of playing in the Big Ten Championship Game.

Let's take a look at what the Buckeyes need to do in order to make that a reality.

Braxton Miller Needs To Get Back on Track

Over his last four games, Miller is completing less than 50 percent of his passes (49.3 percent), with only three touchdowns and two interceptions.

While he's added four more touchdowns running the ball, he's coming off of an awful game against Wisconsin where he accounted for only 145 yards of total offense and failed to find the end zone.

Miller will need to do better than that if Ohio State is going to make it nine wins over the Wolverines in their past 10 meetings.

Against Michigan in 2011, Miller completed 14-of-25 for 235 yards, two touchdowns and an interception while adding another 100 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries.

While Ohio State is a far better team in 2012 than it was in 2011, so is Michigan. The Buckeyes will need at least a repeat performance of last year by Miller to have a chance of holding off the Wolverines.

Contain Denard Robinson and Devin Gardner at the Same Time

It's easier said than done, especially if the Wolverines continue going with Devin Gardner under center and Robinson lined up behind him in the backfield, replacing the injured Fitzgerald Toussaint.

Gardner isn't quite as explosive a runner as Robinson, but he's a legitimate dual-threat quarterback who can burn the Buckeyes defense with his arm and legs.

With Robinson behind him, the opportunity to run a multitude of option plays—or plays where Gardner pitches the ball to Robinson, who can either take off running or set up and throw the ball—makes this the most dangerous Michigan offense that Ohio State has faced in years.

Ohio State will need to figure out a way to keep both athletes in front of them at all times, and to get in their faces as early and often as possible.

Win Turnover Battle

Both Michigan and Ohio State have struggled to win the turnover battle this season, with the Wolverines failing miserably (minus-6) while the Buckeyes are barely keeping their heads above water (plus-1).

Devin Gardner has yet to turn the ball over in his three games as the starting quarterback, and Ohio State must put an end to that streak to have any chance of winning this game.