Michigan Wolverines vs. Ohio State Buckeyes: Complete Game Preview

Phil Callihan@umgoblogContributor INovember 27, 2013

Michigan Wolverines vs. Ohio State Buckeyes: Complete Game Preview

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    No. 47 Jake Ryan is from Ohio but leads the Michigan defense.
    No. 47 Jake Ryan is from Ohio but leads the Michigan defense.Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

    Michigan (7-4, 3-4 Big Ten Conference) enters this game versus traditional rival No. 3 Ohio State (11-0, 7-0 Big Ten Conference) after a miserable month of November. The Wolverines entered the month with hopes of making the Big Ten Championship Game before losing three out of their next four games.

    A victory over Ohio State would take the sting out of a disappointing season, but Michigan is a double-digit underdog.

    Michigan hopes to salvage some pride and spoil Ohio State's perfect season.

     

    Date: Saturday, November 30, 2013

    Time: 12 p.m. ET

    Place: Michigan Stadium (109,901), Ann Arbor, Mich.

    Series vs. Ohio State: U-M leads 58-45-6

    Television: ABC

    Radio: Michigan IMG Sports Network

    Spread: Ohio State by 12, via TheSpread.com

    Live Stats: MGoBlue.com

    Last Meeting vs. Ohio State: Ohio State 26, Michigan 21 (Nov. 24, 2012)

    Unable to score in the second half, the University of Michigan football team (No. 20 AP/No. 20 USA Today) fell at Ohio State (No. 4 AP/NR USA Today) 26-21 on Saturday, Nov. 24, 2012, at Ohio Stadium. Michigan held a one-point halftime advantage but allowed a pair of OSU field goals, surrendered three turnovers and failed to cross midfield in the final 30 minutes.

    Junior quarterback Devin Gardner threw for 171 yards and a score and added a rushing touchdown. Senior quarterback Denard Robinson rushed for 122 yards on 10 carries, including a 67-yard touchdown run that gave him most all-time total touchdowns in Michigan history with 91, passing Chad Henne (90, 2004-07).

    Fifth-year senior receiver Roy Roundtree caught three balls for 92 yards, including a 75-yard TD reception, while senior/junior receiver Jeremy Gallon had six catches for 67 yards.

     

    *Information according to University of Michigan Wolverines game notes.

Video Preview

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    Per the NCAA history channel on YouTube, "A documentary about one of the Greatest Rivalries in Sports - The Ohio State Buckeyes vs The Michigan Wolverines."

Michigan Keys to Victory

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    Can Michigan leave the Big House as victors versus Ohio State?
    Can Michigan leave the Big House as victors versus Ohio State?Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

    Three times in the last 20 years (1993, 1995 and 1996) the Wolverines have ruined Ohio State’s quest for a perfect record. This season, Michigan peaked early with victories over Central Michigan and Notre Dame but has struggled with consistency since.

    A victory over Ohio State would not only reignite the rivalry that has been dominated by the Buckeyes (10-2 over the last 12 meetings), but also salvage a disappointing season for Michigan.

    Are the hammer and nail rivals? It’s been all Ohio State for far too long.

    Michigan needs to flip the script.

    Is Urban Meyer’s Ohio State team as good as Woody Hayes’ 1969 squad billed greatest college football team of all time?

    No, but Brady Hoke’s Michigan squad doesn’t stack up to Bo Schembechler’s team that season either.

    A victory on Saturday would not be the equal to Schembechler’s victory over Hayes in 1969; this season the Big Ten Championship and Rose Bowl are out of reach, but beating Ohio State would be reward enough.

     

    Run the clock

    Michigan doesn’t have the offensive firepower to get into a shootout with Ohio State. Quarterback Devin Gardner is a shadow of the player who dominated Notre Dame. He’s been sacked 20 times this month, and his confidence is at an all-time low. Michigan needs to find a way to spread the ball around while dominating time of possession.

     

    Pressure Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller

    Michigan has played bend-don’t-break defense this season, and that has worked against most teams, but if Braxton Miller has time to throw the ball, this game will be over by halftime.

    The Wolverines need to pressure Miller and force him to make mistakes. And probably score, too. The defense may need to do everything in this game.

     

    Avoid turnovers

    Quarterback Devin Gardner had done a good job of limiting turnovers until fumbling in the closing minutes versus Iowa last week. Turnovers versus Ohio State will be lethal. Michigan needs to play error-free football to have a chance. If Gardner starts turning the ball over, it might be time to see what backup Shane Morris can do.

Ohio State Keys to Victory

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    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Contain and harass Devin Gardner

    Michigan has been successful when Devin Gardner has balanced his ability to run and throw the ball. If Ohio State can force Gardner to turn the ball over early, his confidence will evaporate and the rout will be on.

     

    Don’t overlook Michigan

    Everything points to an epic Buckeyes beatdown of the Wolverines, but Ohio State can’t get caught looking past Michigan to the Big Ten Championship Game.

Michigan Players to Watch

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    Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

    Quarterback Devin Gardner

    Devin Gardner is the key to the Michigan offense. Gardner needs to bounce back from his failure and emotional meltdown versus Iowa. Can he be the player he was versus Notre Dame? Michigan needs him to be to have a chance against Ohio State.

     

    Linebacker Jake Ryan

    Ryan was a force versus Iowa before getting dinged up in the second half. Michigan needs him to be back and firing on all cylinders against Ohio State.

     

    Special teams—kicker Brendan Gibbons and kick returner Dennis Norfleet

    Historically, Michigan victories over Ohio State have been sparked by great special teams play. Dennis Norfleet has been very close to returning a few kicks all the way this season. Gibbons will have lots of opportunities to punt versus Ohio State, and he needs to have the game of his life while making a few field goals to help the cause.

     

    Full Michigan Depth Chart

Ohio State Players to Watch

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    Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

    Quarterback Braxton Miller

    Braxton Miller has the Ohio State offense firing on all cylinders. Michigan has allowed far lesser quarterbacks to play like All-Americans this season, and Miller is the best it’ll see this year.

     

    Running back Carlos Hyde

    Hyde ran for 114 yards against Indiana last week and became the first Buckeyes running back to get over 1,000 yards in a season since 2008. Iowa showed that the Michigan defense can get slashed by the run. Look for Hyde to run all afternoon long.

     

    Linebacker Ryan Shazier

    Shazier had 20 tackles last week versus Indiana, including five tackles for loss, a sack and a forced fumble. He enters the game in good position to duplicate or exceed those totals versus Michigan.

     

    Full Ohio State Depth Chart

What They Are Saying

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    Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

    Michigan head coach Brady Hoke, per The Associated Press (via USA Today):

    We are excited (about playing) Ohio. It's such a great rivalry that we're fortunate to be able to play in and coach in. This is a week that gets everybody involved. Everybody has an opinion, which is good for The Game because it's talked about.

     

    Michigan head coach Brady Hoke, via MGoBlue.com:

    I am very confident that we can win, or we wouldn't play. I'd call down there to Columbus and say that we won't do it.

     

    Michigan offensive tackle Taylor Lewan, via MGoBlue.com:

    We have a good defense. This is not about Ohio, this is about Michigan, University of Michigan 134 years of Michigan Football; most wins in college football. I'm talking about that right now. Our defense will play; our offense needs to be more consistent. We worked on that this morning, and we are going to work on this all week. These guys understand what kind of rivalry this is. I am not talking about Ohio; I am talking about the University of Michigan.

     

    Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer, via BuckeyeSports.com:

    I grew up in the Ten-Year War. I learned to dislike Michigan at a very young age, but you never truly appreciate (the rivalry) until you're behind the walls here and see how serious it really is.

     

    Ohio State offensive lineman Jack Mewhort, per the AP (via USA Today):

    It's always a tough, smash-mouth game. We're prepared to get their best shot, and they're going to get ours, too. The records aren't really a big deal this week.

     

    Ohio State defensive lineman Michael Bennett, per the AP (via USA Today):

    There is a dislike for that team up north. I think every guy gets a little bit of motivation from that and coach Meyer gets extra motivation from that. It filters down to us.

Prediction

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    Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

    The scarlet and gray death star from Columbus is in firing range, and Michigan is targeted for destruction.

    Brady Hoke has stubbornly backed offensive coordinator Al Borges’ play-calling all season long, and Ohio State is ready.

    Look for the Michigan defense to play valiantly, but the offense will let the Wolverines down—again. Ohio State runs away in the second half followed immediately by a protest in front of Schembechler Hall calling for Borges’ dismissal.

    Ohio State 41, Michigan 13