The latest installment of one of college football’s most storied rivalries kicks off Saturday as the No. 3 Ohio State Buckeyes head north to face Michigan at Michigan Stadium.
The schools have split the last two games, with Ohio State winning last year’s contest 26-21. However, Michigan holds the all-time record at 58-45-6.
Winners of 23 straight dating back to last season, the Buckeyes can increase their national title hopes with a huge victory over the Wolverines, but likely need a Florida State loss in order to move up the BCS standings.
After starting the season 5-0, Michigan has gone 2-4 in its last six, though three of losses were by four points or less. Despite forcing four turnovers, the Wolverines coughed up a 14-point lead and notched a measly 158 total offensive yards in a 24-21 loss to Iowa last week.
Failing to capitalize on opponents’ mistakes and a struggling offense wont’ cut it against the nation’s eighth ranked defense, and third highest scoring offense led by quarterback Braxton Miller.
Miller tossed two touchdowns and ran for two more in the Buckeyes 42-14 rout of Indiana last week, and in the face of three turnovers the defense, led by junior linebacker Ryan Shazier, gave up 3.1 yards per carry.
The win clinched Ohio State’s berth in the Big Ten Championship, and it marked the sixth straight 100-yard rushing game for senior Carlos Hyde. At a punishing 6'0 and 242 pounds, Hyde has gained 1,064 yards and 13 touchdowns this season.
Michigan will counter with quarterback Devin Gardner and running back Fitzgerald Toussaint, who’ve accounted for 28 of the school’s 41 offensive touchdowns.
However since suffering a head injury against Nebraska, Toussaint sat out the Northwestern victory, and only rushed six times for 12 yards against Iowa. Instead, the rushing load could rest on true freshman Derrick Green on Senior Day. As the primary running back, Green has gained 102 yards on 28 attempts in the last two games.
The Michigan defense has had their fair share of struggles this year, even with nine total interceptions by defensive backs Raymon Taylor and Blake Countess, and 8.5 sacks from defensive end Frank Clark and linebacker Cameron Gordon.
The Wolverines are fourth against the run, but ninth in passing defense in the Big Ten.
Betting Odds: Ohio State favored by 15 points
Time: Saturday, 12 p.m. ET
Prediction: Ohio State 34, Michigan 24