Ohio State vs. Michigan: The Top 5 Player vs. Player Matchups

Stephen UrbaniakCorrespondent INovember 25, 2011

Ohio State vs. Michigan: The Top 5 Player vs. Player Matchups

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    Probably one of the most storied rivalries in college football, the series between the Ohio State Buckeyes and the Michigan Wolverines is often one of triumph and one of downright horrible football.

    This matchup has often had conference and national championship implications, with the more recent games being dominated by Ohio State. 

    This season, Ohio State was distracted by the NCAA investigation and subsequent self-imposed penalties that led up to the resignation of longtime coach Jim Tressel. The team has been rocked by suspensions and has been without key players for stretches of time.

    Michigan has not been without controversy, as they fired Rich Rodriguez after he was brought in from West Virginia under much fanfare and high expectations that he would restore relevance in Ann Arbor and actually beat Ohio State for once.

1. QB Denard Robinson vs. Buckeyes Defense

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    The man that makes the Wolverines offense go, QB Denard Robinson is a dual threat player who can run and pass. He has been the cog in the offensive attack for the resurgent Wolverines, and he will be the player that the offense begins and ends with.

    The Buckeyes defense has been bitten by injuries and suspensions this season, and it has showed on the field. In their loss against Miami, Lamar Miller ran for 100-plus yards against the defense, and it will have its hands full with Robinson.

    The key for Ohio State defensively in this game is to get pressure on Robinson and make him beat you with his sometimes-subpar passing. 

    Robinson is going to look to his tailback in Fitzgerald Toussaint to bail him out of trouble, and the Buckeyes are going to want to keep a sharp eye on the mobile quarterback.

    The Edge: The edge in this matchup has to go to Denard Robinson and the Wolverines.  Robinson will test the Buckeyes defense in both passing and running situations. For the Buckeyes, it has been a long season, and their defense will only hold up for so long until they give away yards and points.

2. RB Dan Herron vs. Wolverines Defensive Line

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    Dan Herron is one of the most dynamic running backs in the Big Ten, and he is one of the "Buckeye Five" that was caught in the NCAA investigation into the "Tattoos for Memorabilia" scandal that has rocked Columbus to its core.

    Herron came back from the suspension for that, and was suspended for receiving more extra benefits for work he did not perform in violation of NCAA rules.

    His presence has been sorely missed on the field this season. He is a dynamic talent that has the ability to take over a game, like he did against Illinois.

    The Edge: The edge here goes to Dan Herron and the Buckeyes. Herron is a dynamic player, and when he's not suspended and he actually is on the field, he is the kind of player legends are made of. The Wolverines will need to play disciplined football in order to stop the Buckeyes ground game.

3. RB Fitzgerald Toussaint vs. Buckeyes Defensive Line

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    Following in the footsteps of Mike Hart, Toussaint has been a safety blanket of sorts of QB Denard Robinson. 

    His hard-nosed running style has earned him some tough yards in some contests that have kept scores close and kept Michigan on the right track to a renaissance for the program.

    A key for any offense to be able to have balance in their offensive attack. Michigan is 9-2 on the season, and they have at times been able to strike balance between the run and pass.

    The Wolverines are going to be looking to establish some kind of balance and run the football right at the Buckeyes defense and impose their will on what should be a hotly-contested game.

    The Edge: A draw.

4. LB Kenny Demens vs. QB Braxton Miller

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    Kenny Demens is the leader on the Wolverines defense, and he will be the main person to try to bring the pressure against Braxton Miller.

    He has done an outstanding job at the linebacker position and has been a steady force on the defense. He is a key player on defense, and he will look to set the tone in the game.

    Braxton Miller will have to be able to identify where Demens is at all times in order for the Buckeyes to be able to have any kind of offensive presence in the game.

    The Edge: The edge goes to Kenny Demens and the Wolverines defense. Demens is an outstanding player, and he gives the Wolverines a presence in blitz pressure that hasn't been seen in a long time. This matchup will go a long way toward deciding the outcome of the game.

5. Michigan Wolverines vs. Ohio State Buckeyes

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    This game has always had some kind of national championship or other postseason implication until recently. 

    Michigan's seniors have not beaten Ohio State, as the Buckeyes' streak currently stands at seven straight losses to the boys from Columbus.

    The matchups detailed here will go a long way in deciding the 107th meeting of "The Game."

    Even though NCAA investigations and other distractions have caused this matchup to lose some of its luster, these two programs will always battle it out from the starting gun to the final whistle.