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Open Thread: Big Ten Football Game of the Week

The #1 ranked undefeated Ohio State Buckeyes head to “The Big House” with a Big Ten Championship Game already locked up.

Michigan v Ohio State Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

Ohio State will finish the regular season against their greatest rival. The Michigan Wolverines will welcome them into their house with the hopes of knocking off the best team in the country and helping their case for a New Years Six Bowl appearance. Ohio State has won the rivalry in the previous 7 matchups. Michigan hasn’t won since 2011 in Ann Arbor.

Game Information

  • Where: Ann Arbor, Michigan
  • When: Saturday, NOON ET
  • Channel: FOX
  • Spread: -9.5 Ohio State

At this point everyone is well acquainted with the dominance of the Ohio State Buckeyes this season. They have incredible balance. Last week, a talented team like Penn State was able to hang on through the first 3 quarters. However the superior talent, skill and experience seems to be wearing teams down that are able to put up a fight. Quarterback Justin Fields has been incredible this season. He doesn’t make very many mistakes with only 1 interception thrown. He must feel at ease knowing he has star running back JK Dobbins to hand the ball off to in case the pass game is struggling. Dobbins is on the cusp of the 1500 yard rushing mark and has a real shot at 2000 with Saturday’s game and at least 2 more after that coming in the postseason.

The Buckeyes defense is highlighted by Chase Young. An elite pass rusher that really likes to sack quarterbacks and make big plays in general. However the defense has elite talent and skill at all three levels. The linebacking core for Ohio State is superb in run defense but also very capable of covering the middle of the field against the pass. Linebackers Malik Harrison and Pete Werner particularly have had All Big Ten seasons.

Ohio State will have a tough and much improved Michigan team to contend with. The Wolverines have found their mojo on offense ever since their October loss to Penn State. They have averaged just over 41 points per game in their last four and the defense has maintained their strength along with it. The passing offense specifically has started to thrive under starting QB Shea Patterson. He’ll need his best performance of the season to defeat the Buckeyes on Saturday.

In the running game Michigan rotates four backs but the majority of carries have gone to Zach Charbonnet who is having a great freshman campaign with 635 yards rushing and 11 TDs. Michigan will want to force the issue in the pass game as best they can in order to try to get Ohio State off balance against the run. That’s easier said than done however.

Michigan’s defense has been their most reliable element this season and it will have it’s work cut out against possibly the best offense in the nation. The Wolverines are nearly as stout against the run as the Buckeyes are. They have had issues before in pass coverage but really have improved it throughout the season.

With the home field advantage I think this game may be pretty close the whole way but I’ll look for Ohio State to go into the 4th quarter with the lead and really tighten up their defense. In the end the Buckeyes will be a little too much for Michigan.

Prediction: Ohio State 31 Michigan 21