Ohio (6-5) vs. #15 Michigan (9-2)
The Big House
Kickoff 12:00 pm EST
Forecast: Low 50s, 50% chance of rain
#21 Penn State 20 - Ohio
On the other side of the ball, Matt "Farvian Walk-On" McGloin wasn't much better (just watching this guy play this season makes me break out in hives; how did Michigan's defense make him actually look like Favre last year? Oh, nevermind). McGloin went 10/18 for 88 yards and 1 INT. Stephon Green did most of the damage on the ground, averaging 5.8 YPC on 16 carries while Silas Redd averaged 7.9 YPC on 8 carries. The thing that stuck out during the game was just how bad Ohio State's linebackers were against the run. It appears they attended the Obi Ezeh school of gap filling. PSU's running backs were finding holes at the line of scrimmage and no linebackers in sight. The hope is this continues because, well, dang.
#16 Nebraska 17 - #18 Michigan 45. Game column. Michigan followed up a dominating defensive performance against offensive-line-challenged Illinois with another great game against Nebraska, limiting one of the better running attacks in the country to 4.5 YPC on 31 carries. More impressively, the defense was barely on the field, whether it was from Nebraska special team turnovers or the 3/13 performance on third down. Infamous duck thrower Taylor Martinez was as advertised: ducky. He was 9/23 for 122 yards and 1 TD but looked awful getting there. He can't be totally blamed:
On offense, Denard scrambled, which was the unit's biggest revelation. When he wasn't dropping dimes to Martavious Odoms in the back of the endzone, Denard was scampering through a vacated middle of the field as Nebraska's secondary played exclusively man coverage. Unfortunately, he was indecisive on many of those runs, turning what should have been a big day into a mediocre 3.6 YPC day on 23 carries. Fitz Toussaint picked up the slack, though, averaging 4.8 YPC on 29 carries.
Offense vs. Ohio
The other dangerman on Ohio
The linebackers, as previously mentioned, are suspect. None of them have particularly great numbers (their starting linebackers combine for 6 sacks and 11.5 TFL). Ohio
With the strength of Michigan's offensive line and the lack of discipline from the Buckeye linebackers, Fitz Toussaint and Denard should find plenty of room to run between the tackles in this game. Chances are the Buckeyes will load the box with their strong safety making it difficult to bounce runs to the outside, but Michigan should average solidly in the 4.5-5.5 YPC range.
Through the air, we'll see. It's expected to rain, which probably favors Ohio
Per usual, this comes down to Good Denard vs. Evil Denard. Borges has shown a few new passing concepts in the last few weeks that have all had good results. Expect at least one or two new formations and route combination that pick up good yardage. If it's raining and both teams are having trouble throwing the ball, Evil Denard will likely rear his head a few times. Pressure off the edge from Simon or up the middle from Hankins will probably cause a few errant throws, but I don't expect Michigan's passing game to be significantly worse against the Buckeyes than it was against Illinois or Nebraska.
Defense vs. Ohio
Anyone who has watched the Buckeyes this year knows that the offense is barely functional. Watching Braxton Miller throw the ball is basically a redux of Terrelle Pryor during his freshman year: lots of armpunts, terribly inaccurate, and rarely effective. Given the current state of Michigan's secondary, chances are Ohio
Third and long will be interesting. In the last few weeks, Mattison has unleashed hell with Michigan's "okie" package, but Miller is a better athlete than Nathan Scheelhaase or Taylor Martinez and is better at escaping pressure than both. Fortunately, Michigan's zone blitzing is the kind of scheme that can confuse a young quarterback--especially one prone to scrambling--and force him into the strength of the defense. Expect at least a few moments when you say to yourself, "awesome blitz call" during this game. Simply put, Miller is not a threat through the air, even with the recent return of Posey, who Floyd will be Snuggie-ing all day.
The run game is where the Buckeyes will do the most damage. Miller's aforementioned athleticism will cause the team problems, but I'm not sure how many more than Scheelhaase and Martinez. Again, were this earlier in the season, I'd be worried about the edge discipline of Jake Ryan and Craig Roh, but in the last few weeks, Michigan has largely ironed those out. Per usual, Michigan will try to play contain on Miller and force a handoff to whatever running back is on the field.
That RB is likely to be senior Dan "Boom" Herron, he of TatGate fame. Herron has played in only five games to date but has accumulated 556 yards (5.2 YPC) and 2 TDs. He's a rumbling back (5'10", 205 lbs) that plays like a poor man's Beanie Wells. He's got some speed, but he makes most of his yards carrying the pile and running over defenders.
The Buckeye running game has really excelled because of their offensive line and fullback Zach Boren (yes, that Boren). The interior of the line is fierce, led by senior center Michael Brewster and the return of Mike Adams at tackle gives Ohio
It's really hard to see Ohio
On the other side of the ball, Michigan's run game is going to be extremely variable. Runs will likely go for either zero yards or 10 yards. Given how poor the Buckeye linebackers are, if Toussaint and Denard can make it past the defensive line, they won't see anyone until they run into the safeties downfield. Depending on the weather, the passing game may be a non-factor. Regardless, expect a run/pass split like we've seen the last few games.
Ohio State 13 - Michigan 23