The Game is finally here, but this year is a little different than years past. Ohio State will be walking into this matchup as about a four point underdog against the fourth ranked Wolverines. Michigan has looked far more impressive than Ohio State this season with their only blemish being a seven point loss at Notre Dame, the third ranked team in the country. The Wolverines have been firing on all cylinders this season and their “Revenge Tour” has victimized Wisconsin, Michigan State, and Penn State, with the last target being the Buckeyes. If the Buckeyes want to avoid being the last victim, they MUST do these three things:
- Stop the Run- Ohio State’s run defense has been nonexistent this season. Anthony McFarland of Maryland just rushed for nearly 300 yards against the Buckeyes, and Oregon State’s Artavis Pierce, TCU’s Darius Anderson, and Minnesota’s Mohamed Ibrahim all rushed for over 150 yards when they played Ohio State. It seems like Ohio State gives up a big, explosive running play at least once every drive. The Buckeyes can not give up that many big plays to Michigan, a team with two good running backs in Karan Higdon, who has eclipsed 1000 yards, and Chris Evans, who averages about six yards per carry. If those two are successful on Saturday, it’s going to be a long day for the Buckeyes.
- Protect Haskins- Ohio State’s offensive has struggled all year with speedy rushers, such as Minnesota’s Carter Coughlin and Michigan State’s Kenny Willekes. Dwayne Haskins is uber-talented, but even the most talented quarterbacks need just a little bit of time. Haskins and the offensive line are going to be facing the best defensive line they have seen all season in Michigan, who has studs like Chase Winovich, Rashan Gary, and Josh Uche. If Ohio State can block those players sufficiently and keep them from getting to their quarterback, then Dwayne Haskins will have the opportunity to be very successful.
- Win the Turnover Battle- Part of the reason that Maryland played so well last week was that Ohio State was turning the ball over way too much. The Terps recovered the ball on a kickoff, J.K. Dobbins had a costly fumble at the goal line right before the half, and Dwayne Haskins threw a pick six and coughed up the ball around midfield. Ohio State has to secure the ball better on Saturday. Also, the Buckeyes need to force some turnovers themselves. Michigan protects the ball extremely well, as Shea Patterson has only thrown four interceptions this season and the Wolverines have had only one fumble this year. If Ohio State can change that narrative by creating some turnovers and taking advantage of them, then the Buckeyes will have a much better chance to beat the Wolverines.