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"The Game"

Ohio State vs. Michigan

11/19/09

The 2009 college football season is quickly approaching its end which can only mean one thing, its time for Ohio State vs. Michigan. The rivalry known as "The Game" is one of the biggest rivalry games there is in college football. The first Michigan vs. Ohio State game was played back in 1897 and was won by Michigan 36-0. Since then the Wolverines and the Buckeyes have played each other 105 times with Michigan leading in the all-time series 57-42-6, but unfortunately for Michigan fans Ohio State has won the last five meetings and are 7-1 since Coach Jim Tressel took over as Head Coach, and even worse for Michigan fans their chances of changing this trend doesn't look too strong for this year.

BetED and Bet Jamaica both have Ohio State favored by 11.5 with a total of 47.5.

Ohio State hasn't looked great all year, but most importantly they have turned it on late in the year. Since Purdue's stunning upset over the Buckeyes they are 3-0 and have outscored their opponents 107-14 including a 24-7 win over Penn State last week to wrap up the Big 10 Title. QB Terrelle Pryor has also been playing much better football late in the year. Ohio State hasn't asked him to do too much and he has done a great job of managing these games.

QB Tate Forcier on the other hand has been the complete opposite. Forcier got out to a fast start leading Michigan to a win over Notre Dame and a 4-0 start, but it seems like the wheels have come off for the Wolverines and Forcier since then. In their last 7 games Michigan is 1-7 with their lone win coming against Delaware State. That is not the kind of production the Michigan fans expected to see when they hired Coach Rich Rodriguez and his high powered spread offense away from West Virginia. The good news for Rodriguez is when your the Coach at Michigan even a season this bad can be somewhat salvaged with a win over Ohio State, but that will not be an easy task.


THE PRIMETIME MATCHUP


The one bright spot for this Michigan football team is that their offense has been very solid all year. The Wolverines are #1 in the Big 10 in scoring offense averaging 31.3 points per game. The only problem is their defense has been terrible. The Michigan defense is ranked 9th in the Big 10 in scoring defense and total defense. Michigan continually finds itself in shootouts because they have not been able to get big defensive stops when they need them. Against an Illinois team that is last in the Big 10 in scoring offense they allowed 38 points and 500 yards of total offense. That is not going to get it done in a league known for their smashmouth defenses. If Michigan is going to have any chance in this ballgame they have got to find a way to get those defensive stops that have eluded them all year. Ohio State's offense might not put up big numbers in the box scores, but they know exactly what they have to do to win. Terrelle Pryor knows that he just needs to manage the game and not make mistakes and let his defense take over from there. Michigan needs to somehow try to bring out the old mistake prone Terrelle Pryor to give them a chance, because if Ohio State gets an early lead this Michigan offense is going to have problems scoring points against this Ohio State defense.


THE FINAL VERDICT

We'd really like to make a case for Michigan here as they have several handicapping angles working for them. Such as the big "Letdown". It's only natural for a team that has just wrapped up the conference title and a Rose Bowl birth, to have a bit of a let down in a spot like this against a seemingly lesser opponent.

Revenge. Michigan suffered one of it's worst losses in the history of this great rivalry last year, losing 42-7. Make that revenge times 5, as Ohio State has won 5 in a row in this series. Another powerful handicapping angle is when a team, Michigan, has Seniors on it's roster that have never beaten a rival. To the casual fan, it might not seem like much. But it really is a big deal. For these players, not ever beating Ohio State is something they will carry with them for the rest of their lives.

If that's not enough, the numbers themselves suggest that Michigan can make a game of it. They have played some good teams fairly close this year. A two point loss to Purdue, who beat Ohio State. They beat Notre Dame, and played close games against Iowa and Michigan State.

The problem with Michigan, in our opinion, isn't talent. It's Rich Rodriguez and his system. Michigan will always draw talent. Rodriguez and the spread offense may not be the right fit for the Wolverines. We felt that way when he landed the job, and still feel that way today. Needless to say, another 42-7 type loss to the Buckeyes and Rodriguez may as well pack his bags.

Bottom line here, Ohio State is the better team, but we know better than to think this game is going to be a walk thru for the Buckeyes. There's a huge emotional edge favoring the Wolverines here and they have proved on more than one occasion that they can play good teams tight. This is their season right here, and we expect them to throw everything they've got, including the kitchen sink, at the Buckeyes. We'll take the +11.5 here knowing that even in a game where they are outclassed, the back door is always open. Michigan +11.5

 

 


 

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