Michigan Wolverines (3-8) +20.5 at No. 10 Ohio State Buckeyes (9-2) -20.5, 61 o/u
Saturday, Nov. 22 - 12pm ET - Ohio Stadium, Columbus, OH - ABC
by Matt of Predictem.com
The 2008 meeting between Michigan and Ohio State will lack a bit of the series’ usual fever and importance as both teams have fallen short of expectations this season. The Buckeyes come into Saturday’s game ranked 10th in the country, but key losses against premier competition ended National Title hopes and Michigan has fallen hard in the transition season under Rich Rodriguez. Still, this game represents one of the best rivalries in all of college football and both teams will be as fired up for this weekend as any during season. The game from the Shoe kicks at 12pm ET and will be seen on ABC.
Naturally, Ohio State is heavily favored, listed at -20.5 or -21 at the college football sportsbooks, with the over/under total ranging from 59 to 61. As of Tuesday morning, the offshores had yet to post money line information, be sure to check back later in the week as those numbers are made available.
Michigan has struggled throughout the 2008 season, coming in at 3-8 overall and losers in 6 of the last 7 games. The Wolverines are just 2-5 in the Big Ten, good for 9th, and bring a 1-3 road record into Columbus. Michigan is 2-9 against the spread on the year, with a 1-3 ATS mark as visitors, and has gone 2-5 against the spread in the last seven games against OSU overall. This is the last game for the Wolverine seniors as Michigan is not bowl eligible for the first time in over 30 years.
Ohio State has had a solid campaign, going 9-2 on the year and currently tied with Penn State and Michigan State at 6-1 atop the Big Ten conference. OSU will lock up a dual conference title with a win against the Wolverines as PSU and Mich. State square off on Saturday as well. Penn State clipped the Buckeyes a few weeks back, ending a possible title game appearance, but a BCS bowl bid is still there for the Buckeyes if they can avoid an upset here. Ohio State is 4-6 against the spread overall this year, and have not covered in any of their five home games so far, moving that streak to six consecutive ATS losses in Columbus going back to ’07.
There was some anticipation of offensive struggles for the Wolverines as they converted to the spread offense, but Michigan has floundered throughout the year, showing little progress and few playmakers. The Wolverines have run the ball well enough, averaging 151 yards per game, but a 106th ranked pass game has kept Michigan under 300 total yards per game and accounted for only 21.5 points per game. The Michigan defense is average at best, ranking outside the top-45 in key yardage allowed stats, including ranking 91st in pass yards allowed at 234 per game. The Wolverines have played the run better than the pass, but still give up nearly 28 points per game to the opposition.
Steven Threet is the main signal caller for Michigan, completing 51% of passes for 1,105 yards with 9 touchdowns against 7 picks. Threet has added 201 yards on the ground, but is listed as questionable for Saturday with a head injury, leaving Nick Sheridan as the possible starting quarterback for this game. Brandon Minor and Sam McGuffie have proven a potent backfield combination, combining for nearly 1,000 yards and 11 touchdowns on the ground, but both are questionable for the game with shoulder and ankle injuries, respectively. Greg Matthews and Maratavious Odoms are capable receivers, grabbing a combined 79 balls, but neither has been able to stretch the field, averaging 11.7 and 9.2 yards per catch.
Ohio State is finding an offensive identity under the dynamic Terrelle Pryor, looking inefficient at times, but possessing big play potential with each snap. The Buckeyes are run heavy, averaging 187 yards per game on the ground, passing more for effect, adding 144 yards per contest. OSU is 54th in the NCAA in scoring, averaging 26.9 points per game. The defense has carried the team through the year ranking inside the top-15 in pass yards and total yards allowed and inside the top-10 in points allowed at 13.6 per game.
Terrelle Pryor is a gifted athlete, completing 64% of his passes for 10 TD’s against 3 INT’s while rushing for 560 yards and 6 touchdowns. Chris “Beanie” Wells leads the team in rushing with 964 yards and has found the endzone on seven occasions. Brian Robiske is the leading receiver for the Buckeyes with 35 receptions and 7 touchdowns, while Brian Hartline is the big-play threat, averaging 21.5 yards on 19 catches. Ohio State appears at full strength with no notable injuries on the early week report.
My Pick: You could certainly make a case for Michigan and the points as they should be fired up in what amounts to their bowl game, but injury issues in the backfield will hamper an already struggling offense up against a top-tier defense. Unfortunately for the Wolverines, this one could get out of hand early with Ohio State trying to put an exclamation on the regular season against a downed rival. 20.5 is a lot, but this one has 40-10 Buckeyes all over it.