In case you missed it, I previewed Michigan’s offense vs. OSU’s defense here (LINK).
RUSH DEFENSE vs. OHIO STATE RUSH OFFENSE
Michigan is #2 in rush defense (79.6 yards allowed/game) and #2 in yards allowed per carry (2.79). Last week was a “season worst” effort when they gave up 148 rushing yards to Illinois on 4.35 yards per carry. Of course, that was without defensive end Mike Morris, one of Michigan’s best run defenders, who suffered an ankle injury two weeks ago. The leading tackler is inside linebacker Junior Colson (73 stops), followed by linebacker Michael Barrett (46) and defensive end Kris Jenkins (43). Despite the outstanding overall defense, Michigan is tied for #76 in tackles for loss per game (5.46), and the leader is the dinged up Morris with 11 so far this year. Offensively, Ohio State is hurting – literally – in the backfield. Sophomore TreVeyon Henderson (571 yards, 6 TD) may not play, and junior Miyan Williams (783 yards, 13 TD) will probably be slowed up. A large chunk of the carries may go to freshman Dallan Hayden (5’10”, 195), who has 46 carries for 248 yards and 4 touchdowns over the past two games. Quarterback C.J. Stroud (6’3″, 218) is athletic but has just 77 yards rushing and 0 touchdowns so far this season. Up front the offensive line is bookended by left tackle Paris Johnson, Jr. (6’6″, 310) and right tackle Dawand Jones (6’8″, 359), both of whom are outstanding players. The interior line is not quite as impressive, but the line is solid and more athletic than last year.
PASS DEFENSE vs. OHIO STATE PASS OFFENSE
Michigan is #5 in pass defense (161.7 yards allowed/game) and #2 in passing efficiency defense, still just behind Illinois. They have given up just 7 touchdowns through the air, which is tied with Georgia at #1 nationally. They’re #22 in sacks with 2.82 per game. The pass rush was hurting last week without Morris (7.5 sacks) being available, so it will be important for the defense to get him back on the field. Michigan essentially has four starter-quality cornerbacks in D.J. Turner II, Gemon Green, Will Johnson, and Mike Sainristil, and Green should be back closer to full strength after getting a concussion a few weeks back. Safety Rod Moore leads the team with 3 interceptions. Offensively, Ohio State is extremely dangerous throwing the ball. Stroud completes 66.4% of his passes for 35 touchdowns and 4 interceptions, and he leads the nation in passing efficiency. Altogether, OSU is #17 in passing offense (289.2 yards/game) and #3 in yards per attempt. It’s a pick-your-poison type of situation at wide receiver, but sophomore Marvin Harrison, Jr. (6’4″, 205) is the cream of the crop with 65 catches for 1,037 yards and 11 scores. Emeka Egbuka (6’1″, 205) and Julian Fleming (6’2″, 205) have 8 and 6 touchdowns, respectively, and tight end Cade Stover (6’4″, 255) has 31 catches for 386 yards and 5 scores. The offensive line gives up just 0.64 sacks per game, which is tied for #2 in the country, so it’s going to be difficult for Michigan to get home without an elite pass rusher.
Advantage: Ohio State