Michigan plays hosts to Ohio State in The Game on Saturday (11/25/23), and the stakes couldn’t be higher. In this article, find the latest betting odds for the massive matchup and a full breakdown of the game. In addition, find our Ohio State vs. Michigan best bet which is Michigan -3.5.
Ohio State vs. Michigan Prediction
When this game kicks off on Saturday, it will have been 1,456 days since Ohio State last beat Michigan. For the first time in five years, the Wolverines find themselves favored over the Buckeyes in the biggest rivalry in sports, which is simply known as The Game to fans of both teams. Michigan holds the all time series lead with a 60-51-6 record.
For years, Ohio State had been an offensive juggernaut whose defense often lagged behind, but this year is different. The Buckeyes head to Ann Arbor with the second-ranked scoring defense in the country, allowing just 9.3 points per game. Second-year defensive coordinator Jim Knowles has elevated that side of the ball significantly.
Will it be enough? Michigan stormed into Columbus last year and scored 45 points on this defense despite missing Blake Corum, their best player. Corum was brought along slowly this year after tearing his ACL to end last season. But he his workload has been monstrous the last two games with 54 carries for 239 yards and four touchdowns.
J.J. McCarthy stunned Ohio State last year with 263 passing yards and three touchdowns as he took advantage of soft back end coverage with the Buckeyes selling out to stop the run. Knowles’s approach will likely be different here, and McCarthy will have to be better than he’s been lately as he hasn’t thrown a touchdown pass since Oct. 21.
The absence of Jim Harbaugh on the sideline seems to be affecting McCarthy’s production as he spoke this week about the need to get on the same page with interim head coach Sherrone Moore. It won’t be easy in this matchup, but this home atmosphere should invigorate McCarthy to support this team’s dominant run game.
Meanwhile, Ohio State’s Kyle McCord faces a stiff road test against one of the best defenses in the country. The Buckeyes boast an elite pass-catching group featuring Marvin Harrison Jr., the best wide receiver in the country and a projected top five pick in the NFL Draft. However, McCord’s downfield passing has often left a lot to be desired, and a road date with the top scoring defense (9.0 ppg) isn’t exactly a breath of fresh air.
I have major questions about Ohio State’s ability to support McCord with a consistent run game here as the Buckeyes rank just 85th in rushing EPA per play. Offensive line inconsistencies and backfield injuries have hampered their run game, and running on Michigan’s defense has been impossible all year as they rank 7th in rushing EPA/play allowed.
The spread for this game was as high as Michigan -6.5 on the look ahead, but the Wolverines’ close call against Maryland led to a significant shift. However, it’s important to note that Ohio State was tied with Maryland at halftime earlier this year, and that was a home game for the Buckeyes.
Perhaps the off-field controversy surrounding the Michigan program is also responsible for some of the line movement here, but I have full confidence in Sherrone Moore’s coaching acumen and the team’s ability to fight through adversity. In fact, the criticisms of the program is serving as a rallying cry heading into this massive game. Bet on Michigan with this deflated spread as the Wolverines punch their ticket to the Big Ten title game.
Ohio State vs. Michigan Prediction: Michigan -3.5
Ohio State vs. Michigan Best Odds
As I broke down above, the spread for this game has shifted significantly from the look ahead number of Michigan -6.5. Now, the Wolverines sit as 3.5-point favorites in this contest. The over/under for this Big Ten matchup is 46 points, which leads to an implied score of around 24-21 in favor of Michigan.
Ohio State vs. Michigan Key Matchups
As you can expect with the second and third-ranked teams in the country, Ohio State and Michigan bring plenty of talented players to the table. I could spend all day writing about the various matchups in this rivalry game, but I’ll focus on the two that I believe will have the most bearing on the winner here. Let’s break down each team’s top skill position player.
Marvin Harrison Jr. vs. Will Johnson
There isn’t a more talented wide receiver in college football than Marvin Harrison Jr., and he has 1,093 receiving yards and 13 touchdowns. Michigan’s defensive coaches will be working late into the night to figure out how to slow down Harrison after he caught seven passes for 120 yards and a score against the Wolverines last season. Kyle McCord’s inconsistency as a passer is often masked with such a weapon on the perimeter.
Michigan’s game plan for Harrison will likely start with Will Johnson, the sophomore cornerback who is likely a future NFL first rounder. Harrison caught three passes for 34 yards with Johnson in coverage last season according to PFF’s tracking, but the Wolverines didn’t use shadow coverage in the game. It will be fascinating to see if that approach changes, and I’d love to see these elite players go head to head often in the game.
— Anthony Rivardo (@Anthony_Rivardo) November 15, 2023
Blake Corum vs. Ohio State’s Run Defense
Michigan was already known for a conservative style of play under Jim Harbaugh, but that has only been elevated with Sherrone Moore as the interim head coach. The emphasis on the run should continue in this game, and Michigan will be thrilled to have Blake Corum back in the lineup after he missed this game last year. Corum was on his way to a Heisman caliber season before the injury, so you can bet he’ll be itching to get on the field.
The Wolverines’ offensive line isn’t quite as dominant as it was last season, but Corum is as good as ever with a career high 20 rushing touchdowns this season. Ohio State’s run defense has been stout, however, as they rank sixth in success rate allowed on the ground. Linebacker Tommy Eichenberg leads the team with 31 run stops per PFF despite missing two games, and his impact will be felt here as he makes his return.
BLAKE. CORUM. TOUCHDOWN 💥
Michigan's star running back with an exclamation point late vs. Penn State.
— The Athletic (@TheAthletic) November 11, 2023