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Last year 111,156 people were in Ann Arbor for one of the greatest college football games in history, and this season’s matchup in Columbus should be even better. Sixteen years have passed since the last time both Michigan and Ohio State entered their season-ending clash undefeated. This is the best Michigan team Jim Harbaugh has ever coached. Led by Heisman contender Blake Corum, the Wolverines have been running over their opponents like Caitlyn Jenner behind the wheel of a convertible after too many glasses of Chardonnay at an early lunch. Michigan is averaging 243.8 rushing yards a game, good for fifth in the country, and their two-headed backfield of Corum and Donovan Edwards is the best in the Nation. However, the jury is still out on whether or not Corum (knee) or Edwards (undisclosed injury) will be healthy enough to play against Ohio State. Wolverines offensive lineman Ryan Hayes may have slipped his tongue after their win against Illinois by responding to a question about Corum’s health with, “I think we’ve planned on this. He’s a great player, but I think everybody else is going to step up with him out, and I think we’re up to the challenge, and we’ll do that.”
But any college football fan has known Jim Harbaugh long enough to know that Hayes’ response about Corum could’ve been a scheme from his hyper-competitive brain. Regardless of who is running the ball for the Wolverines, their offensive line has them covered. Michigan wins in the trenches, both Corum and Edwards are talented, but the men up front are the reason Michigan was able to win last year and also a big part of the reason they will win this year- especially against an Ohio State defense that’s struggled against talented running teams. JJ McCarthy has more pressure on him than a first-generation Asian American does around ACT time. The Sophomore has sometimes struggled (see last week against Illinois) to get a grip on moving the chains. McCarthy has excelled at throwing the ball to the middle of the field on crossing routes, yet he’s had his eyes on the big gain fly routes and fades of late. There’s no shame in the dink and dunk. One pretty-decent Michigan quarterback has made a career off of it. What’s that guy’s name again? Oh yeah, Tom Brady. At his best, McCarthy is the most efficient passer in the country. Before last week, he was averaging an FBS-best 13.5 yards per attempt on play action, and his offensive line gives him so much time in the pocket that he could probably finish The Irishman while looking downfield. He has the keys to the offense and more weapons than a drill rapper on Instagram live.
Where Michigan easily has the edge over an Ohio State team that’s more explosive than my toilet after late-night Taco Bell is their defense. Michigan’s defense is what Bill Belichick sees in his wet dreams. The Wolverine run defense is allowing fewer than three yards per carry, the pass defense hasn’t allowed an opponent to get to 270 yards, and it’s got enough talent in the secondary to keep Ohio State from clicking on third downs or connecting for explosive plays. A lot of experts are vocalizing their worries about Michigan’s offense against Ohio State’s defense, but the real concern should lie in Ohio State’s offense against Michigan’s defense. The Buckeyes are banged up at all skill positions, and they’ve failed to establish a consistent run game all year. Miyan Williams and TreVeyon Henderson – are trying to battle through leg problems, WR Jaxon Smith-Njigba hasn’t been right all year, and the Buckeyes only put up 401 yards last week against Maryland. Ohio State is yet to play against a defense like Michigan’s. Want to know why? Because these are the following categories where the Wolverines’ defense is ranked number one in the country.
Opponent yards per play
Opponent yards per game
Opponent points per play
Opponent points per game
Opponent rush yards per game
Michigan’s offense can chew the clock, and their defense will lock down a withered Ohio State offense. Vegas likes Ohio State -7.5, but this game will result in the same outcome as last year- a Michigan win from Jim Harbaugh’s embrace of tried and true Big-10 football. Take the Wolverines moneyline and get your free $150 from DraftKings!