Ohio State vs. Michigan prediction and game preview. A College Football Playoff berth could be on the line when the Buckeyes host the Wolverines.
Ohio State vs. Michigan Game Preview
When: Saturday, Nov. 26 – Noon ET
Where: Ohio Stadium, Columbus.
TV Broadcast: ABC
Will this be a de facto play-in game for the College Football Playoff? It’s pretty simple for Ohio State – win and you’re in despite not having to play in the Big Ten Championship. For Michigan, it needs a victory and then another in the conference title game to be assured of a CFP bid.
It comes as little surprise so much is riding on this contest. The rivalry that dates back to 1897 has seen its share of big moments, and it doesn’t get much bigger than playing for a shot at a national championship. The Buckeyes and Wolverines are pretty evenly matched, but Ohio State has a slight advantage hosting the game at home.
What To Know About Ohio State
The Buckeyes have won four in a row since losing to Penn State – two blowout victories, and two that didn’t come quite as easily as some figured. That includes last week at Michigan State, when the Spartans had a chance to take the lead with less than five minutes remaining. Ohio State snuffed out a 2-point conversion attempt and held on for a 17-16 victory to keep its Playoff hopes alive.
J.T. Barrett has thrown seven touchdown passes without an interception over his last three games, and he also rushed for over 100 yards last week. However, the offense – which also features dangerous weapons like Mike Weber and Curtis Samuel – isn’t the issue heading into this one. The Buckeyes allowed 207 rushing yards to the Spartans, who had two of the three longest plays from scrimmage that Ohio State has given up all season.
What To Know About Michigan
It’s not to say the Wolverines have been all that impressive lately, either. They suffered a 14-13 loss at Iowa two weeks ago, then trailed Indiana, 7-3, at halftime. Michigan wound up winning that contest, 20-10, with backup quarterback John O’Korn as Wilton Speight sat out with a shoulder injury. Reports circulated that Speight broke his collarbone against Iowa, but coach Jim Harbaugh has not confirmed that and continues to maintain that Speight is “day to day.” He’s yet to name a starter against the Buckeyes.
No matter that situation, the Wolverines will have De’Veon Smith ready to run. Smith scored touchdowns of 34 and 39 yards in the final five minutes last week to punctuate the win and ran for a season-high 158 yards. Jabrill Peppers carried twice and will be involved somewhat in the offense, but it’s his contributions to Michigan’s top-ranked defense for which he’s most known.
Offense: Ohio State – It’s a matchup of the top two offenses in the conference, but the Buckeyes have a slight edge, averaging 6.35 yards per play to Michigan’s 6.27.
Defense: Michigan – Top two defenses in the Big Ten as well. The Wolverines are allowing the fewest yards per game in the nation at 245.6. However, the Buckeyes have returned six interceptions for touchdowns, the most in the country.
Special Teams: Michigan – Peppers leads the Big Ten and is fourth in the nation with an average of 15.25 yards per punt return.
Coaching: Even – How do you choose between Urban Meyer and Jim Harbaugh?
Intangibles: Ohio State – The Buckeyes have won all four meetings under Meyer and 11 of the last 12 overall.
Matchup To Watch
Samuel vs. Peppers and Jourdan Lewis
Samuel might be one of the most underrated players in the nation. Sure, he gets attention, but few seem to consider him for any major awards despite his versatility in the running and passing game. He’ll be looking to find seams in the Michigan defense, and if he does, the Buckeyes could roll.
Spread: Ohio State -6.5
Ohio State vs. Michigan Prediction
There’s little reason to believe this will be anything but a close, defensive battle. Michigan will force a couple of turnovers but won’t be able to cash in on them. The Buckeyes finally break through in the fourth quarter with a Barrett-to-Samuel TD and hold on for the victory.
Ohio State vs. Michigan Final Score Prediction: Ohio State 13, Michigan 7