Ohio State Buckeyes vs. Michigan Wolverines Preview and Pick

#7 Ohio State Buckeyes (10-1) -4, 49.5 O/U at #23 Michigan Wolverines (8-3) +4, 49.5 O/U Michigan Stadium, 12 PM Eastern, Saturday
by Badger of Predictem.com

One of college footballs most heated rivalries, Ohio State versus Michigan, takes center stage again Saturday when the Buckeyes travel to the Big House in Ann Arbor. Not only will the winner take the Big 10 Conference title, but they will also gain a birth into the Rose Bowl on New Years Day.

Some of the luster has come off this game though as both teams are coming off of a loss from last week, something that hasn’t happened since 1959. Ohio State dropped from their No. 1 ranking with a 28-21 loss to Illinois, while the Wolverines took one on the chin in a 37-21 loss at Wisconsin.

The oddsmakers opened the game with the Buckeyes as a 3-point favorite, with a total of 49.5. The money line has Ohio State as -190, while the Michigan Wolverines are a +165 on the money line.

The Buckeyes have enjoyed some good success on offense under first-year starting quarterback Todd Boeckman. They have been averaging 409.2 yards of total offense, with it nearly equally distributed between the run (200.1 ypg) and the pass (209.1 ypg). They’ve also been successful at cashing in when the reach the red zone, as they are averaging 33.6 points per contest.

Michigans offense would be able to compete with the Buckeyes, if they were healthy. Both running back Mike Hart and quarterback Chad Henne are dinned up. Hart didn’t play at all last week against Wisconsin, while Henne played a few series on offense before shutting it down with a sore shoulder. Both are a game-time decision. Regardless, the Wolverines numbers on offense (399.2 yards per game, 28.2 points per game) are not quite what most people expected with the talent and experience they boasted coming into the year.

Ohio States strength is clearly on the defensive side of the ball. The Buckeyes defense is in the top-10 in every defensive category: No. 1 in points allowed at just 11.4 per game, No. 2 in yards allowed at 240 per game, No. 2 in passing allowing just 154.7 per game, and 6th overall in rushing yards allowed at 85.3 per game.

The Wolverines defense is also a pretty stout one, though not nearly as strong as the Buckeyes. Michigan is stronger against the pass (191.5 yards allowed) then they are verses the run (143.6 yards allowed), and are giving up an average of 20.8 points per game.

Ohio State is 6-4 ATS this season, but they are 4-0 on the road and are also 10-2 ATS in the last 12 road games. Michigan is also 6-4 ATS this season with a 5-2 mark in the Big House. Before failing to cover last week verses Wisconsin, the Wolverines had covered four straight against the number.
Sports bettors will have a hard time deciphering the numbers in regards to the total. Neither team is exceptionally strong this season (Ohio State 6-4, Michigan 4-6), but the teams have combined to go over the total in their last four meetings and seven of the last 10 games. Plus, the under is 8-3 for Michigan in their last 11 home games.

Ohio State has won three straight in the series SU and five of the last six. But don’t underestimate the Wolverines in this one, because if the speculation about head coach Lloyd Carr retiring after the season is true, expect the Maize-n-blue to try their hardest to send him out a winner.

Badgers Pick: All of the numbers, stats and betting trends can be thrown out in this game because the Ohio State-Michigan game is one of the few college games every year that defies common sense. If Michigan was healthy, it would be a different story. But both Hart and Henne are one play away from going back to the sideline for good and that is if they even play in the first place. Take Ohio State to cover the spread on the road.