Michigan Wolverines (5-6 SU, 4-7 ATS) vs. Ohio State (10-1 SU, 7-4 ATS)
College Football Week 14
Date and Time: November 29 - 12pm ET
Where: Ohio Stadium
by Evergreen, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: MICH +20/OSU -20
Over/Under Total: 52.5
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It is rivalry week in the Big Ten and really is no bigger rivalry in College Football than Michigan v. Ohio State. The Wolverines travel to Columbus for the 110th edition of what is known simply as The Game and both teams have their seasons on the line, albeit for very different reasons. The Buckeyes have already sewn up a berth in the conference championship game, but have eyes on the playoff prize and need decisive wins in their next two games to help that cause. The Wolverines need the upset just to become postseason eligible but make no mistake, this is their bowl game. Is Brady Hoke coaching for his job or has he already lost it? Can Ohio State add to their 23-game conference win streak? Settle in with some leftovers folks, there is plenty to see here.
It is no surprise that Ohio State is the heavy favorite in this one with nearly every online betting site running OSU at or near -20. Michigan is just 3-7 against the spread in their last ten and has managed just 7 ATS wins in their last 26 road games. The Buckeyes are 4-1 ATS in their last five at home and the favorite has a 5-2 ATS record in the last seven meetings between the teams.
Michigan is a mess on offense. They rank outside the top-110 in passing yards, total yards and are 114th in scoring at 20.3 points per game. The run game is successful by comparison but is only average at best and the offensive woes have been the main culprit in just about every loss. The defense is good, ranking inside the top-25 nationally in yards and points allowed but they will have to hold down a top-10 offense, scoring 44.3 points per game, in order to give Michigan any shot at a win.
At 10-1, it makes sense that Ohio State has it all working. They are 10th in total yards, 14th in rushing at 259 yards per game and J.T. Barrett is pushing for a front row seat at the Heisman presentation. Barrett has thrown for 2,658 yards, rushed for another 849 and has accounted for 42 touchdowns. Michigans defense is good but they havent seen a dual-threat performing at this level yet.
Devin Gardner is a good athlete but it hasnt really materialized for him this season and he has thrown 14 interceptions against just 8 touchdowns. He adds some spark with his legs but the Wolverines will be better served to see if they can get DeVeon Smith going against an OSU run defense that is solid but unspectacular. Smith leads the team in rushing and at 4.9 yards per carry, he is the best bet to control the clock and keep the ball out of Barretts hands. Devin Funchess has gone for 55-625-4, leading Michigan receivers in all categories and seems to do well even under double coverage. Even if OSU can cover him up, he should open something up elsewhere.
Alongside Barrett, the Buckeyes have playmakers in the backfield with Ezekial Elliott and his 1,061yards leading the way. Elliott has scored eight touchdowns and is a factor in the passing game from time to time as well. Devin Smith has just 25 catches on the season but 8 have gone for touchdowns and his 24.4 yards per catch average is truly impressive. Barrett has been able to find him and Michael Thomas (37-605-8) most often but OSU spreads the wealth as nine players have at least 12 receptions and six have three or more touchdown receptions.
To be honest, I really havent seen anyone predicting a maize and blue upset here so we are really just dealing with the hefty point spread. Michigan is just 1-5 against the spread in their last six trips to Columbus and 1-6 ATS in the last seven overall against the Buckeyes. This is the bowl game for the Wolverines so I expect a spirited effort but OSU needs dominating wins to impress the selection committee so they are looking to hang half a hundred on the scoreboard. If Michigan were even moderately better on offense, I would take them and the 20 but I think a highly motivated Ohio State team with Urban Meyer coaching for another chance to distinguish himself as a legend will run away with this one. OSU early and often and the simple rivalry element will keep the Buckeyes finishing strong. OSU 38 MICH 13
Evergreens Pick to Cover the Point Spread: OHIO STATE