It’s rivalry week! And the highlight of a delicious post-Thanksgiving slate of College Football is No. 3 Michigan at No. 2 Ohio State in the 118th edition of “The Game” at noon ET Saturday on FOX and the FOX Sports App.
It marks one of the biggest editions of the historic rivalry in recent memory. Both teams enter undefeated for the first time since 2006, and the winner will clinch a spot in the Big Ten championship game. More importantly, the winner will have an inside track into the College Football Playoff.
The Buckeyes and their fans will also have revenge on their minds after Michigan snapped Ohio State’s eight-year winning streak in Ann Arbor last season.
Should you back the Wolverines to beat their archrival in back-to-back years for the first time since 1999-2000? FOX Sports betting analyst Geoff Schwartz thinks so and offers up his three reasons why.
Let’s dive in, with odds via FOX Bet.
Ohio State Buckeyes
Michigan’s players believe they should win this game, which helps the Wolverines prepare for the week and execute on Saturday. Last season, the Wolverines controlled the line of scrimmage, battered the Ohio State quarterback CJ Stroud and showed off an explosive offense in an impressive double-digit win.
Heading into this game, head coach Jim Harbaugh and his team will prepare knowing they can beat Ohio State again. They understand if the game is close or not going in their direction, they can still pull out a victory. If anything weird happens, they can still win the game. That confidence goes a long way in a rivalry contest. Trust me.
This is how Michigan won last season, and it’s how they want to win every game under Harbaugh. The Wolverines pride themselves in beating teams up at the line of scrimmage, and they are one of the best in the sport at doing it. Michigan’s offensive line won the Joe Moore Award last season as the best such unit in the sport, and they are once again a semifinalist this year. Michigan ranks fifth in rushing success rate and 12th in pressures allowed this season. Against Ohio State last season, the Wolverines rushed for 297 yards, and if Michigan can replicate that this weekend, it will have a chance to win this game straight up.
On the flip side, Michigan’s defensive line is good at limiting the rush but is not quite the same pass rushing team as last year without Aidan Hutchinson. However, Ohio State can be pushed around in the trenches. For all the athletes and potential the Buckeyes have in their big bodies, they can be outmatched by opponents who punch them in the mouth. That is what Michigan will do.
Ohio State and Michigan both 11-0 heading into ‘The Game’
Joel Klatt reacts to the Ohio State Buckeyes and Michigan Wolverines both being 11-0 heading into “The Game.”
3. Red zone success
Both of these offenses are fabulous at converting red zone opportunities into points. Ohio State is second in offensive red zone score percentage, while Michigan is eighth.
However, Ohio State’s defense is awful in this part of the field, ranked 117th in scoring percentage in the red zone. The Buckeyes allow points on 90% of their opponent’s red zone chances. Michigan is far better, ranked 31st in red zone defense. In a game with two opponents who are almost identical in most of their efficiency numbers, something like red zone success can be the difference in a win or loss.
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