Ohio State Buckeyes vs. Michigan Wolverines Pick 11/30/19
Ohio State Buckeyes (11-0 SU, 8-3 ATS) vs. Michigan Wolverines (9-2 SU, 7-4 ATS)
NCAA Football Week 14
Date and Time: Saturday, Nov, 30 at 12pm ET
Where: Michigan Stadium
Point Spread: OSU -9/MICH +9 (BetNow)
Over/Under Total: 50.5
There are few rivalries in all of sports that rise to the level of Ohio State v. Michigan and meeting No. 116 in that series on tap for this Saturday. This hasn’t been much of a rivalry of late with Michigan winning just twice since 2000, but this game - The Game - never lacks buzz or hype. Jim Harbaugh is 0-4 against Ohio State since coming to Ann Arbor, but a win this weekend would almost certainly forgive those losses considering how damaging an Ohio State loss could be to their national title hopes. The Buckeyes had their closest contest of the season last week, besting Penn State by just eleven points and Michigan at +9 will be the smallest underdog in any Ohio State game this season.
No Big Deal
Ohio State has won nine of the last ten in this series, including seven straight so you might have to forgive current Buckeyes if they don’t see Michigan as a legitimate threat to their march toward the College Football Playoff. OSU handed out a 62-39 beatdown to Michigan last year, and the Buckeyes bring the nation’s best scoring offense (49.4 ppg) to Saturday with designs on putting up another big number. Justin Fields (probable - ankle) is completing nearly 70% of his passes and has 33 touchdowns along with another ten scores on the ground. Ohio State is 4th in the country in rushing behind J.K. Dobbins (1,446-15), and the big play is a consistent feature with Chris Olave and Binjimen Victor both north of 16 yards per reception. The defense is equally stellar with OSU ranked #1 in points and total yards allowed with Chase Young leading the nation in sacks at 16.5 and tackles for loss at 2.1 per game. Ohio State averages nearly two yards more per rush than Michigan and converts 58% on third down with UM back at 40%. It looks like Ohio State can roll out of bed and beat just about anyone by ten points so a little overconfidence might be the thing they have to look out for the most.
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On a Roll
Michigan’s offense was an absolute liability in the early parts of the season, but that has turned around greatly over the last couple of months with the Wolverines averaging 41.5 points per game during their current four-game win streak. Shea Patterson was once in danger of losing his starting spot but has now thrown for 21 touchdowns and enters the week third in the conference in passing yards per game. Zach Charbonnet isn’t flashy, but his eleven rushing scores have him fourth on the Big Ten scoring list, and Hassan Haskins (5.3 ypc) has emerged to add some playmaking in the ground game. Nico Collins leads the team in receiving yards at 20.9 yards per catch, and Donovan Peoples-Jones has five touchdowns in nine games since returning from an early injury. There are some nice pieces in Ann Arbor, and they are all playing well, but they will need a big-time effort against an OSU defense that has racked up 47 sacks and held opponents to just 28% on third-down conversions. The Michigan defense ranks 5th in total yards allowed and 12th in points. They should be able to do something along the lines of what Penn State did against Ohio State but will Michigan’s offense be able to cross the 20-point threshold and make that +9 count for something?
Ohio State’s eight ATS wins this season trail only Louisiana-Lafayette’s nine in 2019, so the Buckeyes have been one of the best bets in college football despite losing each of the last two against the spread. Michigan has four ATS wins to coincide with their straight-up win streak. OSU is 9-1 against the spread in the last ten against an opponent above .500 and is 8-2 ATS in their last ten conference games. Michigan counters with a 4-0 ATS mark in their last four at home, and the dog in this series has won five of the last six against the spread. The Over has hit in four of the last five Ohio State games on the road with the Over also 4-1 in Michigan’s last five against a Big Ten opponent. The Over is 4-0 in the last four meetings in The Big House and 6-0 in the last six overall. Ohio State is getting about 57% of the early public money at the current -9, and 71% of bets have come in on the Over so far.
Ohio State had its shakiest effort of the season last week and still impressed enough to vault over LSU to reach the top of the College Football Playoff rankings. They have been on a march to prove they are the best team in the land in 2019, and Michigan isn’t likely to provide a large test, even at home. I say that having watched Michigan lose to the only two teams that they weren’t better than on paper - Wisconsin and Penn State - while Ohio State handled both. I was expecting a larger line for this game, something like OSU -14, so this single-digit spread doesn’t seem too difficult to cover. I think Michigan can use some energy and a fresh defense to slow Ohio State to some degree early, but the Buckeye ground game is going to produce, and I expect a fatigued Wolverine defense to fade in the second half. Michigan doesn’t have the ball-control type of offense to play “keep away” from Fields and the OSU playmakers, and it should just be a matter of time before a couple of big plays turns the tide in Ohio State’s favor. Harbaugh goes to 0-5 with Ohio State taking a 36-16 decision.
Ted’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread:Ohio State