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Ohio State Buckeyes vs. Michigan Wolverines Game Preview and Prediction

Devin Gardner

Devin Gardner

Ohio State and Michigan are moving in opposite directions this season. The Buckeyes are in the midst of a nation-best 22-game winning streak, while the Wolverines have lost four conference games and rank only above Northwestern in the Legends Division.

The Wolverines lost 24-21 to Iowa last week, marking the fourth time in five games that Michigan has fallen to Iowa. In the loss, Michigan wasted a 21-7 halftime lead, as the Hawkeyes stormed back to win 24-21.

The Buckeyes have yet to lose a game under Urban Meyer. Their biggest scare this season came against Wisconsin, a game they won 31-24 in Week 5. 

Michigan owns a 58–44–6 edge in the overall series against Ohio State. The Buckeyes have claimed the eight of the last nine games against the Wolverines, including a 26-21 victory in Columbus last year. Michigan is hoping for its biggest upset in the rivalry since it was a 17-point underdog and beat Ohio State 13-9 at home in 1996.

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Ohio State vs. Michigan

Kickoff: 12:00 ET
TV Channel: ABC
Spread: Ohio State -14.5

Ohio State’s Key to Victory: Establish Carlos Hyde
Hyde ran for 114 yards against Indiana last week to become the first Buckeyes' running back to get over 1,000 yards in a season since 2008. He has posted six straight 100-yard games, highlighted by his 246 yards and four touchdowns against Illinois. Hyde has five multi-touchdown games and has been the bell cow for Ohio State since returning from his three-game suspension. Hyde should be able to find open holes against Michigan as the Wolverines have let each of their last four opponents rush for over 140 yards.

Michigan’s Key to Victory: Contain the Buckeyes' front
The Wolverines will likely have to figure out a way to block standout LB Ryan Shazier to have any success on offense. And if that happens, it would be surprising. Michigan has struggled to protect Devin Gardner in the passing game and to open up holes in the running game. In fact, the Wolverines have rushing performances of -48 and -21 rushing yards in two separate games this season. Michigan's offensive line has allowed the 13th most sacks in the nation with 32 sacks allowed. On the other hand, Ohio State is tied for second in the country with 36 team sacks. Shazier, the defense's captain, is one of the best linebackers in college football. The Butkus Award finalist leads the Big Ten with 108 tackles, 19.5 for losses and four forced fumbles.

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Key Player: Ohio State QB Braxton Miller
Despite missing three games, this is the most dynamic player in the Big Ten. Miller has accounted for 2,364 all-purpose yards, including 24 total touchdowns. Miller is unquestionably the only player on the field that's capable of carrying his team to victory. The junior will be involved in every facet of the Buckeyes' offense and will need to make a few big plays for Ohio State to finish a second straight regular season undefeated.

Final Analysis

Rivalry games are also closer than expected. With this game being in The Big House, Michigan shouldn't be short on emotion or incentive to win. Even so, Ohio State has the superior playmakers and better coaching to get the job done. The Buckeyes have been extremely consistent this season, while the Wolverines have been unpredictable from week to week. Simply put, I trust the strength of Ohio State's front seven on defense, along with Braxton Miller on offense, more than I trust a shaky Wolverines offense.

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Prediction: Ohio State 35, Michigan 24