The only game that matters

Will Michigan finally beat Ohio State?

Coach Meyer and Coach Harbaugh are ready for the big game.

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Coach Meyer and Coach Harbaugh are ready for the big game.

Who will come out on top?

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College football’s greatest rivalry will begin a new chapter this year when Michigan takes on Ohio State in The

J.T. celebrating touchdown in 42-13 win against Michigan in 2015.
Carlos Osorio
J.T. celebrating touchdown in 42-13 win against Michigan in 2015.

Shoe. Both teams are highly ranked and will be competing for a chance to play in the College Football Playoff. Ohio State has won 11 of the past 12 contests and will seek their fifth consecutive win in the series this November.

Ohio State Buckeyes

Ohio State has obliterated all of their opponents thus far through the first month of the season, so it is no surprise if they would be the favorite to win this year’s blood battle with their neighboring state. The Buckeyes’ have young talented players that are willing to let it rip every time they step on the field.

One in particular is  J.T. Barrett, the star quarterback who leads the Big Ten in passing efficiency, and with 14 touchdown passes, four more than any other quarterback in the conference.

Another key player for the Bucks is Curtis Samuel who is also in the running for Heisman along with Barrett. Samuel is gifted with a skill set that is fun to watch. He leads the Big Ten in all-purpose yards per game (168.3 yards) and is in the top ten in both rushing and receiving yards per game.

The secret behind the Buckeyes' early success on the defensive side of the ball.
Sports Illustrated
The secret behind the Buckeyes’ early success on the defensive side of the ball.

Lastly, OSU has a young but talented “basic” defense that has outscored three offenses it has faced this season, 24-23. The Buckeyes’ rely on their talent advantage to beat teams, and the press-quarters defense which they have adapted from Michigan State. This press-quarters defense allows them to make adjustments to work against any kind of offense, such as getting a numbers advantage in the run game or drop-back passing game. The Ohio State system gets the linebackers to the point of attack on any run play taking stress away from the safeties and cornerbacks to make a tackle.

I asked an Ohio State football die hard fan, Matt Schroer why he thinks OSU will win against Michigan and he told me, “Because Ohio State has only lost three times since 2000 to Michigan. Plus, The Shoe will be rocking and will be ready.”

Facing a Don Brown led defense, the Buckeyes’ offense may be in for a long game. Michigan’s defense is out to prove to everyone that they can play with the best by playing good hard nosed football.

“I think they shouldn’t be worried, they will still have a quality outing and will be prepared for whatever is thrown at them,” said Schroer.

Schroer mentioned that the keys for OSU offensively are to get the ball in the hands of their stars, and defensively to fly around and make plays like they have the first few weeks this season.

When asked to give a score prediction he told me, “Buckeyes by a billion.”

Then I decided to ask someone with more football and all-around intelligence, Robby Westerkamp, about why OSU will come away with a win.

“I think Michigan will win, sike nah. OSU has an unreal defense, their secondary especially. They score as much as other teams offensives. Also having Raekwon Macmillan at LB and Sam Hubbard at DE helps a lot. Plus, when the Bucks are up by 50 and they throw #98 “G.I.” Joe Schroer in there the wolverines better keep their heads on a swivel,” said Westerkamp.

Rob told me the keys for OSU are that they must minimize mistakes on offense and just tell the defense to keep doing what they have been doing all year and they’ll come out on top for the fifth year in a row.

“OSU will end up on top 49-20,” said Westerkamp.

Michigan Wolverines 

So far this season the Wolverines are playing like crazed men, showing the rest of the nation they are one of the teams to beat this year. Michigan is 5-0 with wins over ranked teams, with a couple upcoming road tests remaining. Being ranked No.4, Michigan has an excellent shot at making the College Football Playoff, but there is only one problem. They play in the same division as Ohio State, and they aren’t on the same level as the Buckeyes, yet.

The Buckeyes are as dominant as any team in the country, while Michigan on the other hand, still has some areas where they need to improve. One area that stands out the most is the kicking game. They missed three field goals in Saturday’s win over Wisconsin and sit 4-for-8 on field goals this season.

Another issue they have been faced with this season is maintaining a decent running game. Michigan was shut down running the football against Wisconsin, and struggled to get a consistent push up front which showed against UCF and Colorado. Offensively they also face a risk at quarterback. Wilton Speights has shown a tendency to force a lot of balls in to coverage instead of throwing it away when the play is not there. If this tendency does not change, OSU’s speed on defense might become Speights’ worst nightmare.

Standout Michigan player Jabrill Peppers
Leon Halip
Standout Michigan player Jabrill Peppers

One upside this Michigan team has shown is a great defense, which could find a way to beat Ohio State, even in Columbus. Statistically the Buckeyes’ defense has been better than Michigan this season, but the Wolverines have players with experience, leadership, and playmakers on defense.

A Michigan fan who believes the Blue actually stand a chance this year is Josh Masminster (A.K.A. Bow, Jowman, Zinada). He is a die hard Michigan fan who believes Michigan will beat OSU every year, which rarely happens.

I asked why do they believe Michigan stands a chance against the Buckeyes’ and Connor told me Michigan is just a better team all around (which I have proved to be completely false) and they have a better mindset going into every game.

“A huge reason is because of Harbaugh, he is a solid coach that brings a different coaching style. They have a bunch of good skilled guys including RB, DeVeon Smith (absolute animal), a couple good receivers and TE Jake Butt. Everyone knows Jabrill Peppers is an athlete,” Bow said.

The biggest key to this game that Michigan’s defense must come ready to play. Defense wins ball games, everyone knows that, but I do think Speight is going to have a coming out game and play a great game. Bow predicts Michigan will win, 34-31.

These two teams have dominated the Big Ten for years, but this year the game may come down to who makes the College Football Playoff and who doesn’t. Michigan leads the series 58-45-6, but even though the overall record leans in Michigan’s favor, Ohio State has dominated the series in recent years. So on November 26, 2016, we will get to see which team is the real deal.