ESPN College GameDay 2018: Week 13 Location Hosts, TV Schedule and PredictionsNovember 23, 2018
As expected, ESPN College GameDay heads to Columbus in Week 13 for the battle between the No. 4 Michigan Wolverines and No. 10 Ohio State Buckeyes.
Kirk Herbstreit, Lee Corso, Rece Davis and Desmond Howard broke new ground last week by going to Orlando and watching UCF dismantle Cincinnati 38-13. But it's back to familiar surroundings for Rivalry Week with a berth in the Big Ten Championship Game at stake in one of the sport's greatest rivalries.
Outside of the obvious implications, this year has a different feel to it in large part because Michigan enters hostile territory looking like the better team. The Buckeyes, of course, will have something to say on the matter.
College GameDay Week 13 Info
Date: Saturday, November 24
Time (ET): 9 a.m. to noon; game is at 12 p.m.
Location: Ohio Stadium
Live Stream: Fox Sports GO
This feels familiar and strange at the same time.
The rivalry is old, and Ohio State has mostly owned it over the years—at least, until now. Initial projections have this one favoring Michigan, with oddsmakers posting the Wolverines as five-point favorites, according to OddsShark.
According to OddsShark's Kris Abbott, this is the first time Michigan has been favored in this series since 2011. And according to Stats LLC (via ESPN.com), this is the first time the Wolverines are favorites in Ohio Stadium since 2004.
Not that the Buckeyes seem to care much about this sort of thing:
Either way, an interesting brew of events has created the anomaly.
For starters, Ohio State hasn't looked like Ohio State this year. Not only did the Buckeyes post their lone loss back in mid-October by going down at the hands of 5-6 Purdue 49-20, Urban Meyer's team most recently struggled to get past 5-6 Maryland in a 52-51 overtime affair.
There, what has been a shaky defense for the Buckeyes let up 535 total yards, coughing up 339 on the ground with five touchdowns on a 7.1 yards-per-carry average. It was an extension of a season-long problem for the Buckeyes, as they allow an average of 161.2 yards per game on the ground.
The Ohio State offense has often had to mask this problem, with Dwayne Haskins completing 69.3 percent of his passes with 36 touchdowns against just seven interceptions. Both Mike Weber and J.K. Dobbins boast north of 700 rushing yards and have combined for 12 scores.
Unfortunately for the Buckeyes, Michigan does most of its damage on the ground with running back Karan Higdon. He's sitting on 1,106 yards and 10 touchdowns on a 5.3 yards-per-carry average entering the contest. Overall, the Wolverines boast four players north of the 50-carry mark, which includes quarterback Shea Patterson.
The Wolverines have been steady all season after a season-opening loss to then-No. 12 Notre Dame, too, which features just a seven-point margin. Not bad considering those Fighting Irish remain undefeated at 11-0. There haven't been any consistency problems to speak of, with a 31-20 win over Indiana last time out the closest margin of victory since late September.
Going into Columbus, Jim Harbaugh isn't pulling any punches.
"To us, this is as big as it gets. Doesn't get any bigger," Harbaugh said, according to the Detroit Free Press' Nick Baumgardner. "Most important thing in our football lives. For the whole 365 days. It's that big."
Harbaugh and the Wolverines seem to have a little more riding on it given the historical context.
This looks like a monster game for Higdon.
If the Buckeyes had problems slowing Maryland, the Wolverines shouldn't have too many problems moving the ball. A few lengthy drives while Patterson takes care of the football, as usual, should take the crowd at Ohio Stadium out of it, too.
Keep in mind the Wolverines defense, which has given up more than 20 points this year just three times. The unit faces its toughest task of the season on the road, but it isn't enough to sow seeds of doubt.
More than anything, this feels like two programs heading in opposite directions. Meyer's side has been as unsteady as we've seen in a long time, whereas the Wolverines keep on rolling. Look for a run-heavy attack to function similar to body shots on the way to a late knockout.
Prediction: Michigan 27, Ohio State 24