Michigan Wolverines vs. Ohio State Buckeyes Pick
When: Saturday, November 24th, 2018 – 12:00 PM ET
Where: Ohio Stadium - Columbus, Ohio
Point Spread: MICH -4 / OSU +4
Poll Rankings: Michigan -2
Takeaways From Week 12
The Maize and Blue won their tenth consecutive game to solidify their acclaim and bolster their credentials in the latest edition of the College Football Playoff rankings when they defeated the Indiana Hoosiers by a score of 31-20 in Ann Arbor last Saturday. The game, however, was far closer than the score indicates. Overall, the contest was a back-and-forth nip-and-tuck affair dominated by the defensive acumen of both teams.
The Buckeyes were undoubtedly guilty of looking ahead when they were lucky to leave College Park, Maryland with a win last Saturday. The Buckeyes edged out a 13.5-point underdog in Maryland 52-51 by virtue of a failed two-point conversion by the Terps in overtime. Maryland was all over the Scarlet and Grey all game long, but the Bucks found a way to force extra time where they summarily slipped away.
How the Public is Betting the Michigan-Ohio State Game
This game is no longer known as the Ohio State-Michigan or The Big Game, it is simply “The Game” and has served as a venue for some historical battles with championship-level implications on the line like this one. Presently, 57% of the betting public is siding with the visitors Michigan, and as a result, we have seen this market ascend by half of a point from its opening number of -3.5.
In the last ten meetings between these two bitter rivals, Ohio State has won none of those contests. Last year, Ohio State defeated Michigan 31-20 in Ann Arbor, but the Wolverines did have their chances to stage a victory in The Big House. A few crucial mistakes ultimately handed OSU the win.
There are no new or noteworthy injuries for either side in the build-up to this affair. Ohio State and Michigan will be playing with the same rosters they utilized in their respective B1G conference matches last week.
When Michigan Has the Ball
The Wolverines are a defense-first football team. This strategy becomes more prevalent with each week that goes by as they love to play keep away and limit the number of plays their defense sees per game. Michigan’s 23rd-ranked rushing attack that averages 219.2 yards per game allows them to do just that and they have a talented tailback in Karan Higdon who gets the job done. Higdon has gone for 1,106 yards on the ground this season and found the end zone on 10 occasions. Michigan’s defense remains the best in the country in total yardage as they give up an anemic 234.8 yards per game. This serves as the perfect antidote to slow down Ohio State’s high-powered offense.
When Ohio State Has the Ball
In many ways, the Scarlet and Grey are the polar opposite to the Maize and Blue not just from a rivalry perspective but in the overall approach to the game. The Buckeyes offense is second in the nation with 542 total yards per game. This team scores 41.6 points per game (8th nationally) and is led by a true playmaker at quarterback in Dwayne Haskins who has thrown for 3,685 yards, 36 touchdowns, and just seven interceptions while completing nearly 70% of his passes. The question is whether Ohio State’s 70th ranked total defense (399.4 yards per game) can get off the field and give the Buckeyes more chances to score and test this salty Michigan defense.
Despite Ohio State’s recent dominance, the Wolverines are 4-1 ATS in the previous five meetings between the two foes. Michigan has also been the underdog in the last five occasions as well, so it is significant that they are the favorite here. The Wolverines are now laying the points in a very hostile environment where every fan harbors pure hatred for the Maize and Blue.
Cold and wet is the prognosticated weather for “The Game.” Temperatures are expected to be in the blustery mid-40’s with a 98% chance of precipitation. Spectators are apt to bring an umbrella as it will be a rainy Midwest afternoon.
Keith’s Pick to Cover the Spread: Ohio State +163
Rivalry week is the week of the upset, and you can call that an upset here if you really fancy it but the line is more a measure of market perception than actual quality when it concerns these two teams. The Buckeyes have been ice-cold against the spread as they have covered just once in their last seven games. Michigan had failed to cover lofty spreads in their previous two occasions (-36.5 against Rutgers and -28 against Indiana) after shattering lines in four-straight prior to this. Overall, the win streak of Michigan combined with Ohio State’s record of suspect performances paints an image that the Wolverines are that much better than the Buckeyes. However, there was a point this year where the Bucks were ranked as the No. 2 team in America and touted as a favorite to go to the College Football Playoff. The Wolverines were not even considered a threat to Ohio State given the location of this showdown. However, all the hoop-la has since dissipated with Ohio State’s 49-20 upset loss at Purdue that was ghastly, to say the least. This is Ohio State’s opportunity to show why there was so much optimism around them in the pre-season and they get the benefit of doing it at home with the overall emotional edge thanks to their recent supremacy in this series. In such a scenario, the Buckeyes would be favored under almost all circumstances but market perception has deflated the price on Ohio State, and we get to take advantage of the value. The Buckeyes will win in a close one-possession game ala shades of the 2006 “Game of the Century”.