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Posts Tagged ‘Ohio’

New in Blue: 2016 PG Xavier Simpson

Wednesday, September 9th, 2015


Xavier Simpson – PG | 5’11, 165 | Lima, Ohio – Lima Senior
ESPN: 4-star, #12PG, #66ov Rivals: 4-star, #87ov 247: 4-star, #16PG, #86ov Scout: 4-star, #12PG, #55ov
Other top offers: Illinois, Wisconsin, Miami, Iowa State

John Beilein pulled off a stunning upset Wednesday afternoon when Top 100 point guard Xavier Simpson committed to the Wolverines over Wisconsin, Illinois, Iowa State, and Miami. The four-star recruit left Michigan off his final list in the morning, but committed to Beilein’s team at a press conference at his school.

Simpson reportedly took a last-minute visit to Ann Arbor over the weekend after visiting Illinois and Wisconsin in the past two weeks.

The 5-foot-11, 165-pound guard is known for his vision and excellent defensive prowess. Though it’s not his calling card, Simpson is an adequate scorer and can shoot from the outside. But his value to Michigan will be in his on-court intelligence and toughness. In high school, he’s developed a reputation for embracing the big moments and coming through in the clutch. Beilein likely sees Simpson as a future leader in the locker room. lists Simpson as the top point guard out of Ohio, No. 12 point guard in the country, and No. 55 overall recruit in the 2016 class.

Simpson is the fourth commit in the 2016 class. He joins forwards Jon Teske and Austin Davis and guard Ibi Watson in what is now a top 20 class for the Wolverines. He will arrive next season when Derrick Walton Jr is a senior and Spike Albrecht departs.

National Signing Day: visualizing Michigan’s 2013 recruiting class

Wednesday, February 6th, 2013

Stay tuned in the coming days as we profile each of the 27 members of Michigan’s 2013 class.

(13) THE Ohio University 65 – (4) Michigan 60

Friday, March 16th, 2012

Final 1st 2nd Total
(4) Michigan (24-10, 13-5) 29 31 60
(13) Ohio (28-7, 11-5) 35 30 65

With a highly rated recruiting class coming in, Beilein has a lot to look forward to (photo by Kevin C Cox, Getty Images)

Michigan fell behind in the first half of its NCAA Tournament opener against Ohio University on Friday night and was unable to fight back, falling 65-60. And just like that, it’s football season again.

With spring football beginning in the morning, Michigan basketball was hoping to keep its season alive, but ran into a touch matchup with an Ohio team that features outstanding guard play and smothering defense. Despite being just a 13-seed compared to Michigan’s 4-seed, the Bobcats were a tough draw from the get-go, and that’s why it’s called March Madness.

Michigan hung around early on after OU hit the first two shots of the game. Michigan went on a 9-2 run to take a 9-7 lead. The teams then battled back and forth with Michigan taking another lead at 18-17 with 9:35 remaining in the half. But it would be the last time the Wolverines would lead the game as Ohio used an 18-4 run to open up a 13-point lead. Michigan went on a 7-0 run of its own to end the half but still trailed by six.

The second half was much of the same as every time Michigan would pull within striking distance, Ohio would find an answer with a big shot. The Bobcats led by nine with 8:11 to play but Trey Burke scored nine straight for Michigan to cut the lead to three. After an Ohio free throw and layup, Burke hit another three to keep the Ohio lead at three with 4:12 to play.

However, Michigan went scoreless the rest of the way, missing all six of its shots, five of them being three-point attempts. Ohio didn’t score either until two free throws to seal the game with seven seconds left. Prior to that, Burke got a good look at a three but couldn’t connect. Michigan got the ball back but couldn’t get off a shot as Evan Smotrycz mishandled the dribble and OU took it away.

Burke led Michigan with 16 points, but made just 2-of-9 three-pointers and 5-of-15 shots overall. Smotrycz added 15 points on 6-of-7 shooting and Tim Hardaway Jr scored 14.

Ohio shot 51.2 percent from the field – its fifth-best total of the season and nearly nine percentage points higher than its season average – and hit 6-of-16 three-pointers while holding Michigan to 40.7 percent shooting and 7-of-23 from long range.

Michigan’s season ends with a 24-10 record and despite the early exit, it should still be considered a successful season. The Wolverines won the Big Ten for the first time in 26 years and earned a 4-seed in the tournament. Stu Douglass graduates having played more games in the maize and blue than any other Wolverine and Zack Novak graduates having been named Michigan’s first academic all-american since 1982.

Replacing the two will be one of the best recruiting classes in the nation, led by Mitch McGary, ESPN’s 22nd-ranked player who held offers from Duke, North Carolina, Kentucky, and Florida. Also in the class is ESPN’s 27th-ranked player, Glenn Robinson III, and the 79th-ranked player, Nik Stauskas. So remember, as much as it hurts right now, next looks even more promising.

Final Game Stats
52 Jordan Morgan* 3-5 0-0 2-2 4 4 8 1 8 0 2 0 0 25
00 Zack Novak* 1-6 0-2 0-0 3 0 3 4 2 1 1 0 0 32
01 Stu Douglass* 2-7 1-4 0-0 0 2 2 0 5 1 0 0 0 36
03 Trey Burke* 5-15 2-9 4-4 0 3 3 1 16 5 2 0 1 40
10 Tim Hardaway Jr* 5-14 2-6 2-4 0 2 2 4 14 3 2 0 0 37
13 Matt Vogrich 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 1 0 0 1 0 1 6
20 Blake McLimans 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0+
23 Evan Smotrycz 6-7 2-2 1-1 1 6 7 5 15 1 2 0 0 24
Totals 22-54 7-23 9-11 11 18 29 16 60 11 10 0 2 200
Ohio 22-43 6-16 15-17 4 22 26 12 65 13 9 2 6 200

Michigan Hoops Preview: THE Ohio University

Friday, March 16th, 2012

(4) Michigan v. (13) Ohio

NCAA Tournament
Friday, March 16 – 7:20pm EST – TNT – Nashville, Tenn.
24-9 (13-5) Record 27-7 (11-5)
Ferris State 59-33
Towson 64-47
W. Illinois 59-55
#8 Memphis 73-61
UCLA 79-63
Iowa State 79-66
Oakland 90-80
Ark. Pine-Bluff 63-50
Alabama A&M 87-57
Bradley 77-66
Penn State 71-53
Minnesota 61-56
#16 Wisconsin 59-41
Northwestern 66-64 OT
#9 Michigan St. 60-59
Purdue 66-64
#20 Indiana 68-56
Nebraska 62-46
Illinois 70-61
#6 Ohio State 56-51
Northwestern 67-55 OT
Illinois 72-61
Penn State 71-65
Minnesota 73-69 OT
Wins Tenn.-Martin 74-65
Lamar 85-78 OT
Ark. State 69-54
Marshall 70-68
Morgan State 61-53
Oakland 84-82
Portland 72-54
Marietta 88-54
Wright State 82-54
N. Iowa 76-59
N. C. A&T 82-66
Kennesaw 71-63
Buffalo 60-52
Kent State 87-65
Miami Ohio 69-65
W. Michigan 56-51
Ball State 59-55
N. Illinois 67-58
C. Michigan 68-42
Bowling Green 72-59
UNCA 81-62
Buffalo 88-77
Akron 85-61
Miami Ohio 63-54
Toledo 65-57
Buffalo 77-74
Akron 64-63
#6 Duke 75-82
Virginia 58-70
#11 Indiana 71-73
Iowa 59-75
Arkansas 64-66
#3 Ohio State 49-64
#10 Michigan St. 54-64
Purdue 75-61
#7 Ohio State 55-77
Losses #7 Louisville 54-59
Rob. Morris 67-70
Bowling Green 57-67
Akron 63-68
Toledo 73-77
E. Michigan 55-68
Kent State 61-68
66.5 Points Per Game 70.7
61.4 Scoring Defense 62.4
786-for-1,723 (45.6%) Field Goal % 839-for-1,954 (42.9%)
734-for-1,725 (42.6%) Def. Field Goal % 707-for-1,717 (41.2%)
269-for-765 (35.2%) 3-point % 251-for-743 (33.8%)
197-for-572 (34.4%) Def. 3-point % 182-for-614 (29.6%)
354-for-492 (72.0%) Free Throw % 476-for-699 (68.1%)
10.7 Free Throws Made/Game 14.0
30.8 Rebounds Per Game 34.8
31.8 Opp. Rebounds Per Game 34.6
12.7 Assists Per Game 13.2
10.9 Turnovers Per Game 13.2
5.0 Steals Per Game 9.4
2.2 Blocks Per Game 2.9
G – Trey Burke (14.8)
G – Tim Hardaway (14.6)
Leading Scorer G – D.J. Cooper (14.6)
G – Walter Offutt (11.7)
F – Jordan Morgan (5.5)
F – Evan Smotrycz (4.8)
Leading Rebounder F – Reggie Keely (5.1)
F – Ivo Baltic (5.1)

The last time out, Michigan laid an egg against Ohio State in the Big Ten Tournament semifinals, falling 77-55. This time, the Wolverines face the other Ohio, Ohio University. Much has been made of Michigan referring to the Buckeyes as simply “Ohio” and the fact that tonight Michigan faces the actual Ohio, but the fact remains that despite the Bobcats being the ‘other’ Ohio, this won’t be a cakewalk.

Head coach John Groce happens to hail from my alma mater, Taylor University, a tiny school in the middle of nowhere Indiana and knows a thing or two about coaching. His mentor, Paul Patterson, is the winningest coach in the state of Indiana and preaches a disciplined, defense-oriented, motion-based approach. For a school with just 2,000 students, he has quite the coaching tree. In fact, Michigan assistant Jeff Meyer is also a Taylor alum. Groce has turned the Bobcats into a perennial NCAA Tournament contender and is on the verge of landing a major conference head coaching job.

The Bobcats have the best defense in the MAC, force a lot of turnovers, and loves to push in transition. Defensively, they love to hedge the high ball screen, which is a staple of the Michigan offense. Akron was able to exploit it fairly well and the good news for Michigan is the guys doing the hedging aren’t quite at the level of those from Purdue or Ohio State that caused Michigan fits late in the season.

Ohio is led by junior point guard D.J. Cooper who averages 14.6 points. He’s the guy who creates everything for the Bobcats, will shoot from anywhere at any time, and loves to penetrate. He’ll be a tough matchup for Michigan’s guards.

The good thing is Ohio isn’t a great shooting team, especially from outside. Their overall field goal percentage ranks 201st nationally and three-point percentage ranks 197th. The sharp-shooter is sophomore guard Nick Kellogg, the son of former Buckeye star Clark Kellogg. He shoots 41.8 percent, having connected on 77-of-184. To put that in perspective, Michigan’s leading three-point shooter in terms of makes is Trey Burke who has hit 55. Tim Hardaway Jr has attempted 181 but hit just 51. If there’s one guy to guard tight, it’s Kellogg. He has only made 21 non-three-pointers all season so he’s not a threat inside the arc.

The second leading scorer behind Cooper is 6’3″ guard Walter Offutt, an Ohio State transfer who averages 11.7 points per game. He’s more of a slasher than Kellogg and has the ability to fill it up. He has a season high of 23 points against Buffalo last month. In the MAC championship game against Akron, however, he scored just two after getting in early foul trouble.

On the inside, Ohio relies on 6’8″ junior forwards Ivo Baltic and Reggie Keely. Baltic is similar to Evan Smotrycz in that he’s flexible enough to shoot the midrange jumper, drive, or post up.  He averages nine points per game, but has scored more than eight points just four times in the last 15 games. Keely is active and physical, averaging 9.2 points and 5.1 rebounds a game.

Overall, Ohio is a small team like Michigan that relies on forcing turnovers, scoring in transition, and creating bad shots. Opponents shoot just 29.6 percent from downtown against the Bobcats, although Akron hit 9-of-12 in the MAC championship.

Michigan doesn’t turn the ball over a lot – fourth in the Big Ten in turnovers per game – and should be able to control the temp of the game. Ohio sometimes gets overaggressive on the hedge, so look for Michigan to have a plan in place to exploit that. In the MAC title game, Akron was able to do a good job of beating the hedge and kicking it out to open shooters.

When it comes down to it, if Michigan takes care of the ball, it will win. If it gets into a running match and if Burke struggles like he did against Ohio State, it will be ripe for an upset. I think the former will happen and Michigan will win by eight or ten.

Michigan has won its opening round game in each of its last three trips to the NCAA Tournament. In 1998, Michigan beat Davidson 80-61 before falling to UCLA; in 2009, Michigan beat Clemson 62-59 before falling to Oklahoma; and last season, Michigan beat Tennessee 75-45 before falling to Duke. In fact, Michigan has won at least one game in 19 of its 22 trips all-time to the Big Dance. This year should be no different.

Join the Maize and Go Blue Bracket Challenge

Sunday, March 11th, 2012

Michigan received the 4-seed and will face THE Ohio University on Friday in Nashville. At first glance, it’s a great draw for Michigan, getting to face either Temple, California, or South Florida in Round 3 and then the most beatable of the 1-seeds, North Carolina, in the Sweet 16.

We’ll have more evaluation of the Bobcats to come, but in the spirit of competition, we would like to announce the Maize and Go Blue Bracket Challenge. It will be be hosted on Yahoo Sports, so please click here to register and join. The group ID number is 72625 and password is mgoblue.

It’s free to enter and there will be a prize for the winner.

Good luck and Go Blue!

Mission Accomplished

Sunday, November 27th, 2011

At the beginning of the season, new head coach Brady Hoke took a page out of Lloyd Carr’s book to set the tone for the season. When Hoke was an assistant at Michigan, Carr gave the 1997 team pickaxes during the national championship season to symbolize climbing a mountain, based on the book “Into Thin Air.” This year, Hoke themed the season after SEAL Team 6, which brought down and eliminated Osama Bin Laden at the beginning of May. The correlation was teamwork and unity. Each and every member of the team was in this together.

#15 Michigan 40 – Ohio State 34
Final Stats
40 Final Score 34
10-2 (6-2) Record 6-6 (3-5)
444 Total Yards 372
277 Net Rushing Yards 137
167 Net Passing Yards 235
23 First Downs 18
2 Turnovers 1
3-29 Penalties – Yards 5-47
2-95 Punts – Yards 3-120
35:10 Time of Possession 24:50
5-for-11 Third Down Conversions 5-for-12
1-for-2 Fourth Down Conversions 1-for-2
4-15 Sacks By – Yards 1-3
1-for-1 Field Goals 2-for-2
5-for-5 PATs 4-for-4
4-for-4 Red Zone Scores – Chances 3-for-3

Prior to the Nebraska game a week ago, Hoke had a group of Navy SEALs speak to the team and provide inspiration. The team was given actual tridents that the SEALs wear. On Saturday, Team 132 stepped off the team bus wearing the tridents around their neck and proceded to fight for 60 minutes to achieve the supreme mission it set out for when the season began: beat Ohio.

The seven-year plague the Buckeyes strolled into Ann Arbor with had not been lost on maize and blue faithful across the country and even though the season was a bust for OSU, everyone knew they would put up a fight in college football’s greatest rivalry. No one, however, expected what was about to ensue.

Ohio State took the ball to start the game and came out passing. An offense that hadn’t thrown the ball more than 18 times in a single game all season and slumbered through the first 11 games looked like a force to be reckoned with, whipping the ball around the field.

It was clear from the outset that the tendencies broken by OSU Offensive Coordinator Jim Bollman were not expected by Hoke and Defensive Coordinator Greg Mattison. On the Buckeyes’ first possession, freshman quarterback Braxton Miller found a wide open Corey Brown for a 54-yard touchdown to stun the Big House crowd. On the play, safety Thomas Gordon broke on the inside receiver, DeVier Posey, and no one followed Brown.

In the second quarter, Miller broke loose and ran for a 19-yard touchdown, and on the ‘Bucks next possession Miller connected with Posey for a 43-yard touchdown – the second long touchdown pass of the game against a Michigan defense that hadn’t given up big plays all season.

Miller played a great game for a true freshman in his first Ohio State-Michigan game, but missed a number of wide open receivers that could have sealed Michigan’s fate. And that was the difference in this game. While Miller played well and took advantage of Michigan’s defensive mistakes but couldn’t make the big plays when needed, Denard Robinson silenced his critics with the best game of his career.

Denard turned in an all-time great performance against Ohio State (AP photo)

Robinson threw for 167 yards and three touchdowns and ran for 170 yards and two touchdowns. Most impressive is that he had as many touchdowns as incompletions. He connected on 14 of 17 passes and looked in complete control of the offense all game. Aside from a second quarter fumble that gave Ohio the ball at the Michigan 31 and resulted in an OSU touchdown, Robinson turned in the type of performance that has made legends out of the rivalry over the years.

He became just the fourth Michigan quarterback to throw for three touchdowns against Ohio State – the first since Drew Henson in 2000 – and his 170 rushing yards were the third-highest total for a Michigan rusher in The Game, behind only Tim Biakabutuka’s 313 in 1995 and Jamie Morris’ 210 in ’86.

But while Robinson accounted for all of Michigan’s touchdowns and the majority of the total yards, he didn’t do it all alone. Fitz Toussaint rushed for 120 yards on 20 carries – his third straight 100-yard game – and surpassed the 1,000-yard mark for the season. Robinson and Toussaint became the first Michigan duo to record 1,000-yard seasons since Gordon Bell (1,388) and Rob Lytle (1,030) did it in 1975.

In addition to Robinson’s and Toussaint’s performances, the receiving corps player perhaps its best game of the season. Each receiver was sharp and held onto all of the catchable balls. Whether it was Junior Hemingway coming back to catch Michigan’s first touchdown or Martavious Odoms catching a bullet in traffic and weaving through five defenders into the end zone or Drew Dileo hauling in a 28-yarder on Michigan’s final drive, they all came to play.

Defensively, while the 34 points allowed were the most given up all season, credit has to be given to the unit that tightened up in the second half, allowing just 10 points, and made the stop to seal the win. Michigan sacked Miller four times and freshman linebacker Desmond Morgan led the team with 10 tackles. On the outside, freshman cornerback Blake Countess made a great leaping pass break-up in the first quarter on what would have been a long gain, and Courtney Avery picked Miller off to end the game.

Ryan Van Bergen is one of those seniors that stayed and emerged a champion (photo by the Detroit News)

Credit is also due to placekicker Brendan Gibbons who made just 1-of-5 field goals last season, but stepped up with a clutch 43-yard field goal with two minutes remaining to force the Buckeyes to have to drive the length of the field and score a touchdown instead of a field goal.

Twenty three seniors played their final game in the Big House and they exemplify what a Michigan Man is all about. While many of their former teammates left when the going got tough or decided to jump ship early, these 23 men stuck it out through three different head coaches, multiple coordinators and different schemes. It wasn’t easy, but each and every one of them will tell you it was worth it.

When Denard took the final knee and the clock hit zero, the team unity that was built over the last few months on the principles of the Navy SEALs was on display for all to see. Just as the team does at the end of practice every Friday, the ball was thrown up in the air, and when it landed, the entire team fell to the ground, as if a bomb had gone off. It was a fitting display of a Michigan band of brothers playing for each other and overcoming adversity. And just like SEAL Team 6 ended Bin Laden’s reign of corruption in the middle east and dumped his body out to sea, Michigan’s Team 132 put an end to Ohio’s seven-year reign in a sea of maize and blue.

The victory, and what is likely to follow in the coming days with the expected hiring of Urban Meyer to become Ohio’s next head coach, restore the vigor to the rivalry that has been in hibernation the past few years. Miller looks to be the real deal for OSU and Robinson will be a senior next season. With Hoke’s reinforced significance on beating Ohio, Mattison’s defensive genius, the youth that has stepped up on Michigan’s defense, and the emergence of Toussaint as a feature back, it’s exciting to look forward to the coming years of Michigan football and beating Ohio yet again.

Until the teams meet 364 days from now in Columbus, Michigan has the upper hand and the bragging rights, and Ohio State will have to figure out a way to win without access to free cars, under the table cash, and free tattoos.

Friday Pick’em – Ohio Staff Predictions

Saturday, November 26th, 2011


Last week Michigan dominated Nebraska in a way none of us expected. We all were confident that Michigan would win but didn’t expect the whooping that Michigan put on the ‘Huskers. Justin and Josh tied for the closest. Justin was the most confident in Michigan’s offense, 12 away from the final, but thought Nebraska’s offense would pose more of a challenge. Josh was 18 away from Michigan’s score and 7 away from Nebraska’s, while Chris predicted a closer-scoring game, 21 away from Michigan’s score and six away from Nebraska’s.

Bo won his first Michigan-Ohio State game, but Woody didn't. Brady Hoke looks to follow in Bo's shoes

This week, we all know what’s on the line, so we’re not playing for anything except the season-long crown (although there is still the bowl game remaining). Josh leads with four wins, while Justin and Chris each have three and Matt has one.

The picks:

Justin (3) – Tattoos don’t win games. Their allure, and everything else that comes with them, might help with recruiting, but when it’s all you’ve got left, it’s just a stain on your skin. That’s what those dressed in scarlet and grey will realize at high noon on Saturday. The run of free cars, under the table cash, inked up arms, and pumped up kicks is over. And so is the seven year plague.

Ohio comes into Ann Arbor with a hollow momentum. Winning seven straight gives the Buckeyes the upper hand, but in reality, they’re hurting. Back-to-back losses to Purdue and Penn State leave OSU needing a win to finish with an above .500 record. If anyone saw that coming at this time last year I’d like to meet you.

The Buckeye offense is predicated on running and running and running. It will pound Herron, Hyde, Hall, and Miller and sprinkle in a pass here and there. Miller will probably be a pretty prolific quarterback by the time his days at Ohio are over, but right now he’s a true freshman playing in his first game at Michigan. He’s also facing a defense coordinated by Greg Mattison. Expect Mattison to have a perfect game plan designed to pressure Miller and keep him from getting comfortable. You can bet Mattison has preached gap responsibility all week as Miller is most dangerous when scrambling around eluding would-be tacklers.

Offensively, Michigan will pound Fitz Toussaint and Denard Robinson. Ohio has not proven it can stop the run and Penn State racked up the rushing yards last week. Michigan will get a couple of big gainers as Ohio’s linebackers and safeties are prone to getting out of position. I don’t see Michigan having much trouble moving the ball and as long as Denard doesn’t make poor back-footed decisions, points will be there for the taking. Look for something new from the game plan as well; something Offensive Coordinator Al Borges has been saving just for this game.

If Michigan can score quickly, all the momentum Ohio has in the rivalry will be zapped and the lingering doubts about the current season, the missing sweatervest, and the future of the head coach will sink in. Look for a fairly close game early on becoming a comfortable Michigan win in the second half.

Michigan 35 – Ohio 17


Josh (4) – I’m not from Michigan, and I’m not even from the midwest, but I’ve been a die-hard Michigan fan for as long as I can remember. My dad, who went to Michigan for college and dental school, wasn’t exactly a sports fan, but every time a Michigan game was on we watched it and rooted for the Maize and Blue. My first real memory of Michigan sports was the 1989 NCAA basketball tournament when Glenn Rice and Rumeal Robinson beat Seton Hall for the National title. Incidentally, one of the assistant coaches on that Seton Hall team, Rod Baker, would end up becoming a co-worker of mine after college.

There will be many more Ohio fans like this one on Saturday afternoon (screenshot from Ohio State-Penn State telecast)

Then came Desmond Howard as well as the Fab Five in basketball. Michigan was always on and always winning. How could I not be a Michigan fan?

From middle school, and a bit before, until I graduated high school in 1998, Michigan was 7-1-1 against Ohio, with a National title after the 1997 season. Nebraska can say they won it too all they want but no one outside Nebraska believes it. From the time I was old enough to understand football until the beginning of this century Michigan was 9-2-1 against Ohio – complete domination.

It seems like every year the season for each team came down to “The Game,” either for the Big Ten title or a chance at a National title. It meant something on the national landscape. Lately though, the tides have turned and as we all know Ohio has inched a little closer in the overall win/loss record, going 8-1 since 2001 (Ohio fans will say 9-1 but technically they didn’t win last year, not against us, not against anyone). Aside from 2006, Michigan hasn’t had much at stake during “The Game.” This year is different, but the same. It means something to Michigan’s season and fan base, other than the great satisfaction of beating that school down south.

I live in Ohio now, and I work with two die hard Ohio fans. They’re not the most unreasonable Ohio fans I have met but they still border on insufferable. They like to talk about the past decade and how they’ve owned us, but whenever I bring up the 90s or the overall record they tell me that was the past. Never mind that once a game is over it is in the past and the PAST decade of Ohio wins are just that, in the past (but no one ever confused Ohio fans for being rational).

Before the season started, but after the “Tat Gate” scandal and Tressel’s ‘firing’ I was at lunch with some co-workers and a few of their friends talking football. They were so adamant about Ohio still being dominant and running the table in the B1G Ten and playing in its inaugural championship game. I said it would be tough without the vest and Pryor, but they laughed. They’re THE Ohio after all. Then the conversation switched to Michigan. I love my team unconditionally but I am also a reasonable and realistic fan. I didn’t expect them to go 10-2 but I thought it was reasonable to go 8-4. I mean, how was it possible to be worse than we were last season?! They laughed at me, ‘Michigan won’t win more than 4 games this year’ they said, ignoring all the changes in staff and other intangibles. Despite my most thought out, logical arguments (I went to law school for one year so I thought it was rather strong) they still laughed. One of them said he was so confident that Michigan would suck that he’d bet me dinner. The terms were each win over 7 would get me dinner at a nicer place and each win under 5 he’d get the nicer dinner. He has since tried to go double or nothing with the Ohio game. I took it but I still get lunch if we lose. The funny thing is he’s not even an Ohio fan, he was just so convinced by the Ohio fans around us about Michigan’s ineptitude that he thought he’d cash in on my loyal fanhood and get a free dinner out of it. Oops.

There weren’t many Michigan fans where I grew up (Rochester, NY), nor were there many Ohio fans, so I never experienced an insane amount of trash talking and just plain ridiculousness from Ohio fans. I have been in Ohio for almost a year and a half now. I didn’t like Ohio before, but I would never call it a hatred. Living amongst Ohio fans makes me absolutely despise that team down south. Notre Dame has incredibly unrealistic fans, but they’re not jerks (I’m censoring myself. If you know an Ohio fan you have a good idea of what I meant to say here). Ohio fans go beyond passionate super fans into a realm of just plain insanity.

Tim Biakabutuka gashed OSU's defense for 313 yards in 1995. Can Fitz Toussaint turn in a similar performance?

The Game has always been important but this year its different for me. It means more, both personally and for both teams. Michigan has a chance to end its losing streak and give Ohio its first non-winning season since and a LOSING record in the B1G Ten for the first time since 1999. Michigan has an outside shot at a BCS bowl for the first time in five seasons. It means I won’t have to hear Ohio fans give me crap for a whole year, and it means I can talk trash to them about how bad they are for a whole year. It means I can walk around town in my Michigan gear (although I already do) and know that we beat them and they cannot do anything about it for a whole year. I’m proud to be a fan of the Michigan Wolverines, win or lose, but when we’re winning it’s all the sweeter. And when we beat Ohio it’s almost heaven.

I didn’t want to move to Ohio for work – actually, it was supposed to be Detroit but plans changed – but now I’m glad we live in Ohio. After Tat Gate, Tressel’s ousting, and their less than stellar season, it feels great to watch them suffer (though I want to see them get back on their feet again – beating them when they’re 11-0 is the best feeling). And when Michigan wins on Saturday, it will feel so good. Not only to end the streak, but to know that Brady Hoke and Greg Mattison have brought back Michigan football. B1G Ten titles and beating Ohio is what Michigan is all about. We may not get to win the B1G Ten this year but we can beat Ohio.

Ohio’s offense has been erratic, at best. At times they’ve shown potential, and at others they’ve looked like a high school team could stop them. Braxton Miller is clearly their best option at QB and he can make plays with his arm and his feet. Other than at Nebraska, Ohio hasn’t played in a tough road game. The Big House isn’t known as the most intimidating place to play, but since the addition of the boxes the noise of 113,000-plus stays inside the stadium and makes it quite loud. I haven’t been there since the addition but I hear it is like night and day.

Miller is a freshman, an 18- or 19-year old kid. It will be loud and it will be hostile, I’m not too sure he can overcome that. Ohio’s defense is their strength but they haven’t been able to stop anyone good this year. They needed a miracle hail mary to beat Wisconsin. They’ve lost to bottom feeder Purdue, almost loss to Toledo, and had an incredibly poor showing against an Indiana team who hasn’t beaten a Division I team doesn’t exactly helping their case. That said, Ohio can still win this game. Sports are unpredictable and crazy at times. I don’t think that will happen, but for me to rule out the possibility would be wrong.

Ohio doesn’t give up many points, having given up over 30 only once, in the loss to Nebraska. So we know that a mobile QB and a good rushing attack can beat this defense. Funny enough, that is exactly what Michigan has, quite possibly the most electrifying mobile QB in some time and a good rushing attack with Fitz Toussaint. Denard hasn’t had the type of year passing that some expected, and while his interception total is a bit high he is a decent passer when he sets his feet. Teams shut down the Michigan offense late in the year in 2010 by focusing on Denard. They don’t have that luxury anymore, Toussaint is a great complement to Denard out of the backfield, and if Borges keeps up with the read option plays it could be a LONG day for Ohio. When the running game is clicking and the defense doesn’t know where the ball is going the passing game will open up.

From Woodson to Desmond to Biakabutuka, Michigan greats have come up big in The Game. Denard hopes to do the same

Michigan’s defensive turnaround is nothing short of a miracle, or is it? Brady Hoke is a defensive coach, Greg Mattison has coached some great college and NFL defenses. They aren’t good defensive coaches, they are great defensive coaches. What they have done with this group who got walked all over last season is inspiring. They’ve instilled confidence and focused on fundamentals. They’re a top 10 scoring defense and top 20 in yards allowed. It’s closer to a Michigan defense than people thought was possible in one year. Michigan has gotten better each game, with last week being their best performance all season. Nebraska isn’t the powerhouse people thought they’d be but they’re good nonetheless. For Michigan’s defense to dominate a top tier team like that was not luck, it was because Michigan’s defense is for real.

For Michigan to win this game they need to control the line of scrimmage, on both sides. Creating running lanes for Denard and Fitz will make for a long afternoon for the Buckeye defenders. Getting into the backfield and making Miller scramble to make plays in a loud, hostile environment will keep Ohio off the scoreboard. Yes, Herron and Posey are back but if Miller doesn’t have time to find them or has to scramble and throw under duress, it won’t matter much.

Brady Hoke stated the importance of this game when he was hired. It is not just a game to him, he has experienced this game many times before. He was on the winning side most of those times and he wants to keep it that way. He will not let his kids get overconfident or cocky coming into this game, or any game in the future. He knows Ohio will come to play and he’s prepared his kids to do as as well.

Ohio fans seem to think Michigan is overconfident and cocky coming in and will therefore be ripe for the upset. They also tell me Ohio is gonna win by five touchdowns and/or in dominating fashion. I have no response to statements as ludicrous as that. History has a tendency of repeating itself. Michigan owned the 90’s, Ohio owned the 2000’s. It goes back and forth. When Michigan hired its legendary coach the headlines read “Bo Who?” There was similar sentiment when Dave Brandon hired little known Brady Hoke over big names like Jim Harbough and Les Miles. 1968, the year before Bo Schembechler was hired, Ohio beat Michigan 50-14. In 1969 Ohio was the top ranked team in the nation, riding a 22 game win streak. Michigan and “Bo Who” beat them 24-12. Last year we ‘lost’ 37-7, and while Ohio isn’t the top ranked (or ranked at all) we have another no-name coach at the helm. Can we expect the same sort of results as in 1969? I think so. GO BLUE!

Michigan 27 – Ohio 12


Chris (3) – Here’s the deal: This is The Game.  Records don’t matter.  Stats don’t matter.  What matters is who wants it more.  Both teams are going to come out playing their hearts out and what has happened during the year prior to this isn’t going to make a difference.  This game will not impact the Big Ten Championship, as neither team can make it to Indianapolis.  Saturday’s game will be all about pride and feeling the players will get when they get to put on their pads and smack around their biggest rival.  The Wolverines come into this game trying to break an embarrassing seven-game losing streak to the Buckeyes.  Stopping that streak means a lot more to the team than the potential BCS berth that could be gained with a win.

OSU will come into this game looking at it like their bowl game.  Even if the Buckeyes get into a bowl, it likely won’t be one of much interest.  What a better way to end a frustrating and disappointing season than to beat a Wolverines team that is favored by over a touchdown and looking to get back in control of this rivalry??

From the day Coach Hoke set foot on campus in Ann Arbor, he has made it clear that the goal is to beat OSU every year.  In practice this week, certainly that fact was not lost on the Michigan players.  The fact that OSU has had a “down” year this year will not play into this game, however.  I like the Michigan defense, led by the Defensive Coordinator Greg Mattison, to put a lot of pressure on true freshmen quarterback Braxton Miller and confuse him at the line of scrimmage.  The Michigan secondary will need to stay with their assignments in case Miller is able to break free though.  He has had a tendency to create big plays with his ability to escape the pocket when it closes in.

On offense, I look for Offensive Coordinator Al Borges to call a game similar to what he did last game against Nebraska.  The ball will need to be in Denard Robinson’s hands for them to score points.  They will need to be able to pass the ball too, as OSU has shut down Denard in the previous two games.  A game plan similar to last week will do the trick.

Michigan 28 – OSU 17


Matt (1) – Eight years ago, Michigan beat Ohio State. That was the last time Michigan beat them. But that was then, this is now.

Brady Hoke has already proven this season that he was the perfect Michigan man for the University of Michigan to hire for the football team’s head coach. But a win tomorrow against the Buckeyes will be a huge exclamation mark for Hoke and his coaching staff.

Michigan has gotten better and better each and every week. Improvement on offense and defense has been visible during every single game, and hopefully it will be tomorrow as well.

Michigan’s defense has gotten better every game against the pass and run, so although I do see Braxton Miller putting a couple of big plays, I do see Michigan’s defense shutting him down somewhat.

I tend to say Denard will be Denard every single game, and again, I see him doing what he does this Saturday as well: a couple of passing touchdowns, a couple of rushing touchdowns, and probably a couple of picks, unfortunately. I think we will also see Devin Gardner in for quite a few plays.

Brady Hoke knows this rivalry. He has experienced this rivalry. And tomorrow he will have the boys more pumped up for a football game than they ever have been. Brady Hoke will experience his first Michigan vs Ohio State game as a head coach, and he will experience a victory.

I’m going overboard, but hey, it’s The Game, you have to go overboard! Go Blue!!!

Michigan 100 – Ohio State 0