Can Michigan's Defense Save the Season Finale?

Samantha CookeCorrespondent INovember 21, 2008


The Michigan Wolverines football team has had a disappointing year.  Some argue if they beat Ohio State, it will save Coach Rich Rodriguez's job, as well as put a positive spin on the season.

Does Michigan stand a chance against Ohio State? 

Their defense will have to step up and have the game of the year to beat OSU.

Based on the season rankings for each team, it does not look too bad for Michigan.

Michigan has the No.45 rush defense in the country, which is sixth in the conference.  They allow 3.37 yards per carry and have given up 18 touchdowns.

Ohio State has the No. 29 rush offense in the country, averaging 187.91 yards per game.  They also have 17 touchdowns on the season.

This looks bad for Michigan, but their rush defense is stronger than their pass defense.  It's strength versus strength in this match-up.

As for passing defense, Michigan ranks No. 72 in the country, which is ninth in the conference.  They give up a 58.1 completion percentage.  Michigan's defense has given up 16 touchdowns, but has eight interceptions on the season.

This bodes well, as OSU's passing offense is No. 107 in the country (one behind Michigan).  They have little attempts with a 62.83% completion percentage.  OSU's passers have scored 13 touchdowns and given up five interceptions.

Based solely on rankings, Michigan's chances don't look too bad for their defense; however, game time is a different story.

The Michigan-Ohio State rivalry is one of the most storied rivalries in college football.  Players HATE each other.  They want to destroy the other team.

Michigan will put everything on the field this Saturday, especially on defense.  After all, what do they have to lose?

Worst case for Michigan, they lose a game in which they are a 20 point underdog and fall to 3-9.  They have already missed a bowl and stand no chance to make one.

Michigan's defense needs to do a few things to stay in the game.  First, someone has to spy Terrelle Pryor. 

There is no doubt Pryor is one of the best quarterbacks in the league.  He has a great running ability and is dangerous outside the pocket.

Sophomore Obi Ezeh should have the role of Pryor's spy this Saturday.  Wherever Pryor goes, Ezeh needs to go.  Ezeh plays linebacker so he can try and contain Pryor in the pocket while still helping his defense deep.

This allows Brandon Graham to stay up front and put the needed pressure on Pryor.  Pryor is still a freshman quarterback playing in his first Michigan-Ohio State game.  He can be rattled as he was against Penn State.

Allowing Graham to stay up front will also put needed pressure on Beanie Wells.  If Graham and the defensive line keep Wells from getting in to the secondary, this will greatly help the Wolverines.

Putting extra pressure on Pryor will also take off some of the pressure from the secondary.  This can allow for some unique blitzes, as Morgan Trent, Brandon Harrison, and Stevie Brown all have the ability and speed to put pressure up front.

Yes, this is a daunting task.  Michigan looks like they deserve to be 20 point underdogs and laughed all the way home after the game.

On Michigan-Ohio State game day, records are thrown out the window.  No one on the field cares if they have won 10 games or two, as long as they beat their rival.

Michigan's defense will keep them in the game.  It will be more of a question of if their offense can show up.

The best defense Michigan has is to keep Ohio State off the field.  Michigan's offense has to put drives together and control the clock, which is easier said than done.

No, Michigan does not deserve to be a 20 point underdog and they have the chance to prove it.

Michigan needs to put everything on the line and play the best game of their lives to beat Ohio State.