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.
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