Michigan Football will trek down to Columbus this week for their regular season finale. Awaiting them will be the undefeated Ohio State Buckeyes and a hostile crowd. There is much on the line in this, the 109th edition of The Game. OSU will look to cap a perfect season in their final game of 2012, they are ineligible for a bowl game. Pending the outcome of Nebraska at Iowa on Friday, the Wolverines might be playing for a trip to the Big Ten Championship game.
Kick off is scheduled for noon and the game will be televised on ABC/ESPN.
In season one of the Urban Way, the Buckeyes have started off a perfect 11-0 and would love to finish their season by defeating that school up north. Led by QB Braxton Miller, Ohio State ranks 2nd in the Big Ten and 9th nationally in rushing offense. They don’t pass that much because they usually don’t have to. On defense, the Buckeyes are better than the numbers indicate. They have playmakers on all 3 levels with guys like Johnathan Hankins, John Simon and Ryan Shazier.
Brady Hoke won’t and shouldn’t tip his hand as to who will start at QB for the Wolverines. I think it will be Devin Gardner and they will run an offense similar to what we saw last week against Iowa. Gardner has been a revelation since taking over at QB 3 weeks ago. In his three starts, Gardner has completed 65.7% of his passes for 834 pass yards with 7 TDs and 3 interceptions. He has also rushed for 105 yards and another 6 TDs. He has also exhibited great poise and calmness while piloting the Wolverines. With him at QB and Robinson mixing in at RB and WR, the Michigan offense was very dynamic last week. Gardner’s prowess in the passing game has revived Roy Roundtree’s season, he has 12 receptions for 286 yards and a TD in the last 3 games.
Michigan’s defense will be tested by the Buckeyes, who run exactly the kind of offense that can give the Wolverines problems. ”They’re running the football very well,” Brady Hoke said on Monday. “They’re scoring more points than anybody else in the conference. I think Carlos Hyde is a big back who is physical. And Braxton (Miller), with what he does with his athleticism.” It’s that athleticism and Miller’s ability to make people miss that will require Michigan’s defense to play fundamentally sound and laser-focused.
Michigan will certainly try to keep Miller from getting to the edges and force him to run between the tackles. This has been an effective strategy against the Buckeyes this season (see Wisconsin).
Prediction: So far this season I am 9-2 predicting the outcome of Michigan Football games. I expect this one to go right down to the wire. I also think Michigan’s offense, with Gardner at QB, is diverse enough to pull out a huge road victory. Michigan wins 34-31.