Ohio State vs. Michigan Football: Keys to Buckeyes' Upset in Annual Rivalry Game

Michael MillSenior Analyst IIINovember 25, 2011

CHAMPAIGN, IL - OCTOBER 15:  Braxton Miller #5 of the Ohio State Buckeyes turns to hand-off against the Illinois Fighting Illini at Memorial Stadium on October 15, 2011 in Champaign, Illinois. Ohio State defeated Illinois 17-7.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The Ohio State and Michigan rivalry is considered by many to be the greatest rivalry in the college football world.

Back at the turn of the century, ESPN rated it the best rivalry in all of sports.

In recent years the intensity of the rivalry has seemed to drop off slightly with the poor play of the Michigan Wolverines.

This year, the opposite is true heading into the big game.

Michigan is sitting at 9-2 under new head coach Brady Hoke. Ohio State has stumbled to a 6-5 record under Luke Fickell.

Despite this, the Buckeyes could walk away from this rivalry game with a win. Here are three keys to victory for Ohio State.


1. Ohio State's 14th-Ranked Scoring Defense

Michigan may be boasting the better record and better statistics, but they are extremely misleading.

The Wolverines have had one of the easiest schedules in college football this season. In fact, they have played only two ranked opponents this year.

They suffered their first loss of the season to Michigan State, who was by far their toughest opponent.

The reason Michigan struggled was because of the Spartans defense. Michigan State has the only top-tier defense that the Wolverines have seen.

Michigan was held to just 14 points in the game.

Ohio State enters the game with the second-best defense that the Wolverines have seen all year. This one is going to be a defensive battle.

The Buckeyes defense will keep it closer than most expect.


2. Dan Herron Has Looked Strong

Dan Herron has played in only the five most recent games for the Buckeyes.

In the three games where he ran for over 100 yards, Ohio State walked away with a win. In the two where he didn't, the Buckeyes have lost.

Michigan has the sixth-ranked scoring defense in the country. Not to dismiss their fantastic play, but the toughest offensive opponent they have played was probably Notre Dame.

This is an Ohio State team that is stacked with talent now that players are returning from suspension.

Herron is probably the best player on this Ohio State offense.


3. Braxton Miller Is a Game-Changer

He may not have the prettiest performances, but freshman quarterback Braxton Miller has played well in recent weeks.

Many are keying in on the fact that Miller has failed to complete 50 percent of his passes over the last three weeks.

What they fail to mention is that he has rushed for over 100 yards in each of those showings.

Miller has done a fantastic job protecting the ball and letting the defense and playmakers around him do their job. He has thrown nine touchdowns to just three interceptions this year.

Then, when needed, Miller can step up and make plays. He showed us he is capable of that with the win over Wisconsin.

Miller will manage this game and keep it close. Then, when the time is right, he will make a play that changes the outcome.