The University of Michigan versus Ohio State football game needs no introduction or added hype. This game is the equivalent of bringing the President of the United States as your guest to a dinner banquet. Everyone knows who your guest is and their importance. This year, however, the rivalry game between these two schools may mean more to the respected teams than it has in the past without any championship implications at stake.
A win in this game is the secret ingredient to both team’s renowned dish. The ingredient that when added can make the dish taste delicious, but when left out makes those who eat it cringe. Both teams are looking for a win in this game to ensure their season leaves a good taste in the mouths of their fans and critics. Although Michigan is 9-2 on the season and vastly improved in all facets of the game from Rich Rod’s final season; a loss to Ohio State would extend the losing streak in this rivalry to eight games and would surely put a sour taste on an otherwise successful season. Ohio State at 6-5 is currently experiencing their worst season in several years and could use a win in this rivalry game to keep fans and critics from viewing the season as a complete failure. Add in the fact that a win could lead to an At-Large BCS invite for the Wolverines, and this game has more than enough spice to add to the traditional dish this rivalry annually serves up.
The key in this game for the Wolverines will likely be the arm of Denard Robinson, and whether or not he is able to keep drives alive with his arm. There is no doubt that Denard will be able to move the chains with his legs, but doing so through the air has proved to be a challenge at times this season. In the Wolverines’ two losses this season against Michigan State and Iowa, Denard struggled to gain first downs with his arm. If Denard is able to throw the ball as well as he did against the Cornhuskers last weekend then Ohio State will not be able to load up the box, and in turn Toussaint (three games of over 130 rush yards in the last four contests) and Denard can expect big games on the ground. However, if Denard struggles with his accuracy and can’t consistently complete enough passes, then it is likely that Ohio State’s talented defense will be able to bottle up Michigan’s run game just like the Spartans and Hawkeyes did earlier in the season.
The key for Ohio State will likely be almost identically to that of the Wolverines. If Ohio State hopes to move the ball well enough on offense to keep up with the Wolverines and put points on the board, then Braxton Miller will need to continue to improve as a passer and complete enough passes to make the Michigan defense respect the Buckeyes’ passing game. If Miller is unable to move the chains through the air then the Wolverine’s defense will be able to focus on containing Miller and shutting down the ground game led by Sr. Dan Herron who is averaging 111.2 rush yds per game since coming off of a six game suspension to start the year.
The winner of this game will likely be the team that is able to have the most success and consistency from their passing game. With both teams showcasing dual threat quarter backs who at time can be somewhat inaccurate to say the least; it is a definite possibility that both teams could experience difficulties in the passing game. If this happens make sure to sit back, relax, and be thankful like so many others are this time of year. And what exactly should you be thankful for? Be thankful that you are not watching Tim Tebow and the Denver Broncos attempting to run the read option offense. That is something that no one, not even the Denver Bronco faithful, should be thankful for.
About the Author
Written by Casey Phillips
I am a resident of South West Michigan and a graduate of Western Michigan University. Like most residents of Michigan I am a die hard Tigers, Red Wings, and Pistons fan. However, my allegiances in the NFL stand with the St Louis Rams as I have been a fan since I become mesmerized by their "Greatest Show on Turf" offense that ruled the late 90s and the early 2000s. My devotion to the Rams has not swayed through their recent struggles and turmoil. When it comes to collegiate sports my heart lies solely with the University of Michigan Wolverines. I have been a U of M fan since almost the time I was born, and will never root for Michigan State, Ohio State, or Notre Dame in any circumstance. Besides my love and passion for sports I am a young, developing IT professional for a moderate sized company. I enjoy working out, spending time out doors, and visiting with friends and family when I am not at work or looking at football box scores.