You can find the Michigan offense vs. OSU defense posts here (LINK).
Hit the jump for the second half of the preview.
RUSH DEFENSE vs. OSU RUSH OFFENSE
The Wolverines are #13 in rush defense (106 yards allowed/game) and #8 in yards allowed per carry (2.77). They have allowed 14 rushing touchdowns, which is tied for #39 in the country. Khaleke Hudson has a chance to get to 100 tackles on the year (he has 88), and fellow linebacker Jordan Glasgow is #2 on the team with 72. Defensive end Kwity Paye has 11 tackles for loss, and fellow end Aidan Hutchinson has 8.5. Both of them have been effective against the run and the pass. Ohio State is #4 in rushing offense (282 yards/game), and the top three teams are all military academies running traditional triple option offenses. They have scored multiple rushing touchdowns in every single game this year, and last week against Penn State was the lowest yards per carry (3.75) of the season, with every other game at 4.94 yards/carry or more. Junior running back J.K. Dobbins (5’10”, 217) looks more like the back that burst onto the scene in 2017 than he did the one who was just so-so in 2018; he has 1,446 yards and 15 touchdowns on 6.6 yards/carry. Backup Master Teague (5’11”, 220) averages 6.5 yards/carry on 116 attempts, too. The wild card is quarterback Justin Fields, who suffered an ankle injury against PSU and is rumored to have an injured thumb on his non-throwing hand. He averages 4.2 yards/carry and has 10 touchdowns.
Advantage: Ohio State
PASS DEFENSE vs. OSU PASS OFFENSE
Michigan is #4 in pass defense (161 yards allowed/game), #14 in passer efficiency defense, and tied at #54 in interceptions (9). For all the talk about Michigan’s secondary, I am less impressed with Michigan’s secondary than their numbers might suggest. Other people are higher on cornerbacks Lavert Hill and Ambry Thomas than I am; they are good but they grab a lot and don’t have great length. Safeties Brad Hawkins (if healthy) and Josh Metellus are a little limited athletically, though freshman Daxton Hill and his 4.4 speed could be a bit of a wild card. Michigan is tied for #12 in sacks, led by LB/DE Josh Uche (8.5) and end Kwity Paye (6.5). Ohio State is tied at #83 in sacks allowed (25), even though quarterback Justin Fields (6’3″, 223) is a good runner. They are #48 in passing offense (248 yards/game) with an absurd stat of 40 touchdowns to just 1 interception on the year. (Note: Only triple option-oriented Georgia Southern has fewer interceptions, with 0 thrown in just 126 attempts this year.) Fields is completing 69% of his passes for 9.4 yards per attempt, 33 touchdowns, and the 1 pick. Last year’s pain-in-the-butt Chris Olave (6’1″, 185) has returned to lead the team with 637 yards and 10 touchdown; he’s the slick route runner, while Binjimen Victor (6’4″, 199) is like Gumby, and K.J. Hill (6’0″, 195) leads the squad with 42 receptions. There’s not just one target to fixate on for a defense, which makes it difficult. I remember seeing OSU left tackle Thayer Munford (6’6″, 310) as a recruit and thinking he was certainly headed for offensive guard in college, so he might be Michigan’s best chance to exploit via Paye and/or Uche, but if the Buckeyes can hold up along the line, this should be a good matchup for the Scarlet and Gray.
Advantage: Ohio State
This is a different team from what Michigan faced last year, when quarterback Dwayne Haskins threw the ball all over the place because he was unable and unwilling to run it, at least with the same proficiency that J.T. Barrett, Braxton Miller, and others showed. The receivers aren’t quite as explosive overall, but Fields offers them the ability to run and pass.
- The Penn State game looks like a blip for OSU’s offense.
- The Buckeyes shut down Michigan’s running game and have planned for the Shea Patterson running game that the Wolverines have kept in their back pocket most of the year. Michigan rushes for less than 90 yards total.
- Shea Patterson gets rattled and throws 2 picks.
- Ohio State 42, Michigan 17
I hope the Wolverines prove me wrong.
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