The 115th meeting of Michigan (9-2) and Ohio State (11-0) kickoffs Saturday in Ann Arbor. Ohio State is looking to finish off a perfect regular season, as Jim Harbaugh looks to get his first win against Michigan’s biggest rival. The Buckeyes are virtually locked in to the college football playoff, but a loss to Michigan would affect the seeding. Also, if Harbaugh goes 0-5 against Ohio State, then his seat is going to be pretty warm heading into the offseason. As of writing this, Ohio State is favored by 9.5-points, and the over/under is 51. Also, 77 percent of the public are backing the Buckeyes, and 61 percent are going under.
Date: Saturday, November 30, 2019
Time: 12:00 PM ET
Location: Michigan Stadium, Ann Arbor, Michigan
Ohio State Analysis
The Buckeyes offense really hasn’t faced any setbacks this season, but their turnover issues last week against Penn State might have shown a vulnerable spot heading into the postseason. They lost three fumbles in their win, which allowed Penn State to hang around despite outplaying them all game. Also, the Buckeyes allow pressure to get to Justin Fields, and Michigan ranks eighth in sack rate, and 24th in havoc. The Buckeyes do have an edge in power success, and stuff rate, so they should be able to convert short yardage situations. This is going to be the best defense Ohio State has seen this season, so this will be a big test for them going into the playoff. Ohio State needs to give Fields better protection in the pocket.
Ohio State’s defense shouldn’t have any issues slowing down the Michigan offense. The Buckeyes defense has the best success rate in all of college football, and holding opponents to 3.3 yards per play. They also have the highest sack rate, and the fourth highest havoc rate in the nation. Their one weakness is slowing down explosive rushing plays. Michigan’s offense ranks 78th in explosive rush offense, which gives them a slight edge over this defense. However, they rank sixth in overall rushing success rate, so they should be able to hold Zach Charbonnet and Hassan Haskins to minimum. They held Penn State to 227 yards of offense last week. Don’t be surprised if they hold Michigan to similar numbers on Saturday.
Since their loss to Penn State, the Wolverines offense has averaged 41.5 points per game. Michigan has been hot over the last month, and will be looking to knock off their rival Ohio State. However, their offense still ranks 50th in success rate. Even with their recent success, this offense still ranks about average. They rank 60th in rushing success, and 41st in passing success. Those numbers aren’t going to scare a defense that ranks sixth and first the respected categories. The only edge Michigan’s offense has is their explosive rushing attack, which isn’t that explosive. They rank 78th in that category as Ohio State ranks 87th defending explosive rushing plays. This might Michigan’s only hope moving the football against the best defense in college football.
The only key that Michigan’s defense might need to do is create havoc on Justin Fields. Michigan’s defense ranks 24th in havoc created and eighth in sack rate. Ohio States offense allowed Penn State to stay in the game last week because they forced three fumbles. If Michigan can create the same pressure to make Fields uncomfortable, then they will hang around all game. The Wolverines defense will need to create a short field for their offense this week. Also, Michigan’s defense does matchup well in terms of passing and rushing success rates against the Buckeye offense. They’ll be able to limit the chances they have to move the football down field. However, Ohio State does have the edge in short yardage situations, so if Michigan can’t get off the field, then it could cost them towards the end of the game.
Betting Pick: 1st Half under 26.5/Under 51
Similar to the Ohio State game last week, both teams will be like fighters trying to feel out their opponent. With how good both defenses has played this season, there shouldn’t be much scoring from either side. Ohio State probably has the edge in moving the ball downfield, but if Michigan can create havoc that’ll stop them for sure. Also, Ohio State’s defense should handle the Michigan offense just fine. Shea Patterson has been playing better as of late, but he hasn’t seen a defense like Ohio State’s all season, so it’s hard to see him coming out a lighting it up.