Michigan vs. Ohio State: Everything to learn about The Game

After his group had completely mauled Ohio State within the trenches final November, Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh unleashed a verbal uppercut to the breadbasket of his counterpart Ryan Day. 

The jubilant Harbaugh was reveling in his first victory over the Buckeyes since assuming management of his alma mater in 2015 and fired a shot throughout the bow that added one other layer of rhetorical rocketry to this storied rivalry.

“Sometimes people that are standing on third base think they hit a triple, you know?” Harbaugh stated after his group’s 42-27 win at Michigan Stadium. “But they didn’t.”

Harbaugh’s quip appeared to insinuate Day was quite lucky to be named head coach at Ohio State after two years because the group’s offensive coordinator. And earlier this week, Harbaugh acknowledged the comment carried retaliatory motives for Day’s remark about eager to “hang 100” factors on the Wolverines in 2020. Tit-for-tat, apparently.

This 12 months, Harbaugh sang a far totally different tune in his weekly information convention to preview the primary undefeated matchup between Ohio State and Michigan since 2006. He pushed apart a possibility to expound on the third base remark in favor of extra respectful feedback in regards to the Buckeyes, their gamers and the spectacle of two unbeaten groups vying for a visit to the Massive Ten Championship recreation in Indianapolis. The Wolverines, he stated, have been a group of “happy warriors on a happy mission.”

“It’s a tremendous team,” Harbaugh stated, “and we’re very grateful to be in this position, to be able to play in this game. Winner takes the East, winner takes all right there. Strong opponent. It’s the kind of situation that gives you the opportunity to display how strong our team is. There’s no need to hate. Be grateful for the opponent. It’s like superheroes: It’s through a strong opponent that you get to find out who you are.

“They’ve obtained nice gamers; we have got nice gamers. They have nice coaches; we now have nice coaches. They have gamers with Heisman habits, we now have gamers with Heisman habits. Congratulations. Be grateful to have the chance to play in this sort of massive recreation.”

The Game: Ohio State, Michigan to sq. off

The Game: Ohio State, Michigan to square off

RJ Younger is joined by Geoff Schwartz to preview the most important recreation of the school soccer season between Michigan and Ohio State.

So with that because the backdrop, right here’s a scouting report for The Game:

The matchup

No. 3 Michigan (11-0, 8-0 Massive Ten) at No. 2 Ohio State (11-0, 8-0 Massive Ten)
Game time: Midday ET on FOX and the FOX Sports activities App
Odds: Buckeyes by 8 (per FOX Wager, as of Thursday afternoon)

Setting the stage

When Michigan has the ball: A lot of Michigan’s id has centered on its large operating again Blake Corum, who ranks fourth nationally in dashing with 1,457 yards and tied for second in dashing touchdowns with 18. Between rushes and receptions, Corum has touched the ball on 57.1% of his 448 snaps this season.

Because of this the whole thing of Michigan’s fan base felt their stomachs drop final Saturday towards Illinois when Corum crashed to the turf grabbing his left knee shortly earlier than halftime. And whereas he made a quick return at first of the second half, Corum eliminated himself from the sport due to lingering discomfort. Harbaugh advised reporters there was no structural injury to Corum’s knee and hasn’t offered any updates since.

“He’s a great player,” Day stated earlier this week. “We’re going to prepare for him to play, we expect him to play. We will do the best we can. They are a good offense and have plenty of running backs, plenty of good players. While he is very, very good, we will continue to prepare for all of them.”

If Corum is unavailable or inhibited, the popular alternative could be former five-star prospect Donovan Edwards — a participant averaging 6.7 yards per keep on 70 makes an attempt this season, and somebody who affords a respectable menace within the passing recreation. However Edwards sustained an undisclosed harm in Michigan’s win over Nebraska earlier this month and missed final week’s dwelling finale towards Illinois. As with Corum, his standing for the showdown in Columbus is unclear.

That heaps much more stress on sophomore quarterback J.J. McCarthy to cross with higher accuracy than he’s exhibited the previous couple of video games. McCarthy accomplished at the very least 69% of his passes within the first seven begins of his profession however has topped 53% simply as soon as within the final month. His collection of pressure-packed throws within the ultimate minutes towards Illinois offers McCarthy one thing to construct from.

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3 things Michigan must do to beat Ohio State

Joel Klatt breaks down the keys to a Wolverines victory.

When Ohio State has the ball: The final two video games for freshman tailback Dallan Hayden quelled the nerves of a program hampered by harm woes at operating again. Main ball carriers TreVeyon Henderson (foot) and Miyan Williams (lower-body harm) have bounced out and in of the lineup seemingly all season, however Hayden proved simply how deep the expertise runs in Columbus by gaining a mixed 248 yards and 4 touchdowns in wins over Indiana and Maryland. Watching Illinois tailback Chase Brown carve out 140 yards and two touchdowns towards a stout Michigan protection ought to provide the Buckeyes a lift in confidence.

The extra fascinating matchups are within the passing recreation, the place Day and quarterback C.J. Stroud ought to be capable of dictate the appears to be like they like. Michigan’s co-defensive coordinator and defensive backs coach Steve Clinkscale prefers retaining his cornerbacks to 1 aspect of the sphere for a complete possession quite than having them comply with sure extensive receivers. The technique protects the Wolverines from getting caught out of place towards up-tempo offenses, however it additionally affords opposing groups the prospect to affect defensive assignments.

Michigan rotates three gamers by way of its two perimeter nook spots, with veterans DJ Turner and Gemon Inexperienced incomes many of the snaps. Turner and Inexperienced have mixed to permit simply 38 catches on 85 passes thrown their method for 492 yards and three touchdowns. Quarterbacks have a greater NFL passer score concentrating on Inexperienced (87.2) than Turner (59.6) this season, in response to PFF.

How nicely the Buckeyes push the ball downfield to their proficient receiving corps figures to be an fascinating subplot. Stroud has accomplished 23 of 51 passes touring at the very least 20 yards past the road of scrimmage for 836 yards, eight touchdowns and one interception. The protection of Michigan defensive coordinator Jesse Minter has solely conceded 22 passes of 20-plus yards all season.

“I talked about players who have Heisman habits,” Harbaugh stated. “They have players who have Heisman habits; we have players who have Heisman habits. No question C.J. Stroud and (wideout) Marvin Harrison Jr. have Heisman habits. Tremendous players.”

Why Ohio State’s run recreation is the important thing

Why Ohio State's run game is the key

Joel Klatt explains what Ohio State should do to succeed vs. Michigan.

Gamers to look at

Michigan edge rusher Mike Morris: The two storylines that emerged from Michigan’s snow-swept win over Ohio State final season have been the bludgeoning operating of tailback Hassan Haskins (169 yards, 5 TDs) and the unblockable performances from edge-rushing tandem Aidan Hutchinson (15 pressures, three sacks) and David Ojabo (4 pressures, one sack).

With Hutchinson and Ojabo now plying their commerce within the NFL, the alpha position was handed all the way down to Morris, who leads the Wolverines in each pressures (35) and sacks (seven) to date this season. Along with his 6-foot-6, 292-pound body, Morris is considerably greater than his predecessors however has tormented opposing offensive traces to an analogous diploma. Minter makes use of Morris as a standard edge rusher, a hand-in-the-dirt inside rusher, and even drops him into protection at occasions on zone pressures.

Morris missed the win over Illinois with a lower-body harm he described as a tweak throughout a radio look final week. He’s anticipated to be in uniform this weekend, although it’s unclear whether or not he’ll have the identical explosiveness he’s proven all season.

Ohio State security Lathan Ransom: The arrival of latest defensive coordinator Jim Knowles from Oklahoma State ushered in a metamorphosis that has improved the Buckeyes from 59th in complete protection a 12 months in the past to ninth this season. Penn State and Maryland are the one groups to attain greater than 21 factors towards Knowles’ toughened, extra essentially sound unit.

Among the many keys to the defensive turnaround is Knowles’ use of three safeties on the sphere on the similar time, with Ransom, Ronnie Hickman and Tanner McCalister — who adopted his former coordinator from Oklahoma State — turning into influence playmakers within the field, within the slot and within the deeper parts of the sphere most frequently related to their positions. The trio has mixed for 5 interceptions, three sacks, six passes defended, two pressured fumbles and one fumble restoration.

Ransom, a junior, could be essentially the most versatile of the safeties given what number of locations he’s lined up this season. His 490 defensive snaps have been break up between alignments within the field (212 snaps), slot nook (100 snaps), extensive nook (14 snaps) and free security (156 snaps), in response to Professional Soccer Focus). Opposing offense have thrown Ransom’s method 25 occasions this season, and whereas 17 of these passes have been accomplished — a 72% clip a lot increased than coaches would really like — the completions solely gained 112 yards and haven’t produced a landing. Quarterbacks have an NFL passer score of 64.1 when throwing at Ransom, and that’s ok for No. 2 within the OSU secondary behind McCalister at 51.6.

He additionally blocked a punt throughout final week’s win over Maryland.

How Jim Knowles reworked the Buckeyes’ protection

How Jim Knowles transformed the Buckeyes' defense

Joel Klatt breaks down how defensive coordinator Jim Knowles circled Ohio State’s protection.

Unsung heroes

Michigan middle Olu Oluwatimi: The switch from Virginia has been getting ready for Saturday’s recreation with a heavy coronary heart following the horrific mass taking pictures at his former faculty through which three soccer gamers have been killed. As well as, Harbaugh advised reporters Oluwatimi’s father lately underwent a profitable process to take away a mind tumor. As necessary because the showdown with Ohio State could seem, Oluwatimi’s thoughts is being pulled in a number of instructions.

On the sphere, Oluwatimi’s stellar play has taken an already proficient offensive line to a brand new degree in 2022. He’s the ninth highest-graded middle within the nation amongst gamers with at the very least 700 snaps, in response to PFF, with a run-blocking mark that ranks eighth nationally and a pass-blocking mark tied for twenty fourth — all of which exceed what final 12 months’s middle Andrew Vastardis did in a really strong marketing campaign. Oluwatimi has but to permit a sack this season and has surrendered simply 5 quarterback hits.

“He has the strength of 10 men,” Harbaugh stated after the win over Illinois. “I have so much admiration for him and I will forever be proud to be his friend.”

Ohio State tight finish Cade Stover: The senior from Mansfield, Ohio, has emerged as a dependable goal for Stroud as defenses dedicate increasingly consideration to Harrison and the Buckeyes’ different perimeter threats. Stover ranks third on the group in catches (31) and fourth in each receiving yards (386) and receiving touchdowns (5), three of which got here within the final 4 video games.

At 6-foot-4 and 255 kilos, Stover has a barely shorter and thicker construct than many fashionable tight ends however makes use of his energy to interrupt tackles at a powerful charge. His common of 6.1 yards after contact per reception ranks eighth nationally amongst tight ends with at the very least 40 receptions, in response to PFF, and 49% of his complete yards have been gained after the primary collision with a defender. Eighteen of his 31 receptions have picked up first downs this season.

“There’s not a tougher guy in the country than Cade Stover,” Day stated on his radio present earlier this week.

Harm report

Michigan: The largest questions for Michigan are within the backfield, the place Corum (knee) and Edwards (undisclosed harm) will seemingly be lower than 100% in the event that they’re out there for Saturday’s recreation. Corum suffered his harm in final week’s win over Illinois, whereas Edwards dropped out of the win over Nebraska earlier this month. The different main harm concern includes tight finish Luke Schoonmaker, who has missed the final two video games with an undisclosed harm. Schoonmaker is a featured goal for McCarthy, particularly on third downs, and is second on the group with 30 catches for 315 yards and two touchdowns. Punt returner and gadget receiver A.J. Henning can be questionable with an undisclosed harm after lacking the earlier recreation.

Ohio State: There is uncertainty in Ohio State’s backfield as nicely with major runners Henderson (107 carries, 571 yards, six TDs) and Williams (117 carries, 783 yards, 13 TDs) each battling accidents for a lot of the season. Henderson, who’s believed to be coping with a foot drawback, carried 11 occasions for 19 yards final week towards Maryland however was unable to complete the sport. Williams can be coping with a lower-body harm and hasn’t performed because the first half of Ohio State’s win over Indiana on Nov. 12. The nice unknown is whether or not star extensive receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba (hamstring) can be out there for the primary time since Oct. 22 when he aggravated an harm that originated within the season opener towards Notre Dame. He has simply 5 catches for 43 yards in 2022.

Numbers recreation

12: The variety of conferences between Michigan and Ohio State with each packages ranked within the prime 5 of the Related Press ballot, which is essentially the most of any rivalry in school soccer. The Buckeyes maintain a 7-3-1 edge in these matchups.  

10: The variety of consecutive wins for McCarthy since beating Cade McNamara for the highest spot on the QB depth chart after Week 2. He has matched Dennis Franklin’s mark for essentially the most wins and not using a loss to start a beginning quarterback’s profession in Michigan faculty historical past.

8: The variety of consecutive video games gained by Ohio State over Michigan at Ohio Stadium. The Wolverines’ final win in Columbus was a 38-26 victory in 2000. Michigan owns the rivalry’s longest general win streak at 9 consecutive video games from 1901-09.

27.6: The common margin of victory for Michigan this season throughout an 11-0 begin. The Wolverines are considered one of three groups with common scoring margins bigger than plus-25 this season alongside Georgia (plus-26.7) and Ohio State (plus-29.5). These are additionally the one three groups to have outscored their respective opponents by greater than 300 factors in 2022: Georgia plus-300; Michigan plus-304; Ohio State plus-325.

2: The variety of years when Michigan and Ohio State did not play one another within the common season finale since 1935. The first exception got here in 1942, when the Buckeyes ended the 12 months towards Iowa Pre-Flight in what completed as the varsity’s first Related Press nationwide title. The second exception got here in 2020 in the course of the pandemic-shortened marketing campaign. Michigan and Ohio State haven’t performed in Columbus since 2018.

Remaining Massive Ten slate

Nebraska (3-8, 2-6 Massive Ten) at Iowa (7-4, 5-3 Massive Ten)
Game time: 4 p.m. ET Friday on Massive Ten Community
Odds: Hawkeyes by 10.5

Rutgers (4-7, 1-7 Massive Ten) at Maryland (6-5, 3-5 Massive Ten)
Game time: Midday ET on Massive Ten Community
Odds: Terrapins by 14

Illinois (7-4, 4-4 Massive Ten) at Northwestern (1-10, 1-7 Massive Ten)
Game time: 3:30 p.m. ET on Massive Ten Community
Odds: Illini by 14.5

Minnesota (7-4, 4-4 Massive Ten) at Wisconsin (6-5, 4-4 Massive Ten)
Game time: 3:30 p.m. ET
Odds: Badgers by 3

Purdue (7-4, 5-3 Massive Ten) at Indiana (4-7, 2-6 Massive Ten)
Game time: 3:30 p.m. ET on Massive Ten Community
Odds: Boilermakers by 10.5

Michigan State (5-6, 3-5 Massive Ten) at No. 11 Penn State (9-2, 6-2 Massive Ten)
Game time: 4 p.m. ET on FS1
Odds: Nittany Lions by 19.5

Learn extra:

Michael Cohen covers school soccer and basketball for FOX Sports activities with an emphasis on the Massive Ten. Comply with him on Twitter at @Michael_Cohen13.

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