Michigan Wolverines (10-1 SU, 5-6 ATS) vs. Ohio State Buckeyes (10-1 SU, 6-5 ATS)
College Football Week 13
Date/Time: Saturday, November 26, 2016 at 12PM EST
Where: Ohio Stadium, Columbus, Ohio
By Loot, NCAA Football Handicapper, Lootmeister.com
Betting Odds: MICH +6.5/OSU -6.5
Over/Under Total: 48.5
The Michigan Wolverines come to Ohio Stadium to face the Ohio State Buckeyes in a massive Big Ten matchup in yet another installment of perhaps the greatest rivalry in the game. This game has national implications, with the winner one step closer to getting into the Big Ten title game with a chance to win their way into the College Football Playoff. Neither team dominated last week, particularly Ohio State, who had to deny a 3-7 Michigan State team a two-point conversion to emerge a one-point winner in East Lansing. But at least they were able to avoid the Spartans denying them, as has happened in the past. Michigan also had their hands full with Indiana, overcoming a third quarter 10-6 Hoosiers lead to pull away 20-10 on the strength of two De'Veon Smith touchdown runs.
The Wolverines offense was in the hands of John O'Korn, who replaced injured Wilton Speight, who was out with a collarbone. The performance of O'Korn was enough for the Wolverines to try their best to get Speight back in there. O'Korn struggled to move an offense that had been thriving in the hands of Speight, going 7-for-16 passing with just 59 yards. His best play was a run, but one cringes at the thought of him going up against the Buckeyes playmaking defense. His throws were off and he was flustered whenever the Indiana pass-rush got uncorked. The run-game was still on-point, and that's a big part of the Wolverines success.
On Saturday, De'Veon Smith was big with 158 yards on the ground and two big TD runs of 34 and 39 yards. They have different backs that can get you, with Chris Evans, Karan Higdon, and Ty Isaac. They have scored on the ground 38 times this season! Speight has been efficient with a 15-to-4 TD/INT ratio. Amara Darboh, TE Jake Butt, and Jehu Chesson create a good diversion from the ground-game. They average over 42 points per game and that's usually more than enough with a top-notch defense.
The Wolverines defense gave up ten points on Saturday and have allowed just 27 in their last three games. It's the top-ranked defense in the game, first in passing-defense and points allowed with just 10.9 points a game. Only two opponents have surpassed 13 points on the season. With Jabrill Peppers and Channing Stribling, they have playmaking ability in the secondary. They get after the quarterback and can make game-changing plays. They will be challenged, however, by a high-flying Ohio St. offense that can put up points in bunches. Michigan needs this one and they aren't exactly peaking heading into week 13 of the season, are they? After a loss to Iowa and a somewhat tepid showing against Indiana, this is a bad time of the year to be downward trending. Getting Speight back will help, as will the natural energy infusion that comes with this rivalry game.
There is something about Michigan State that is a thorn in the side of even the best Ohio State teams. And it nearly cost them a ton on Sunday. Ohio State's road to the Big Ten title game is a bit more problematic, as they could lose their division to Penn State and miss the Big Ten game, which would make it hard to get into the CFP. But winning here would ass a huge nugget to their resume. They know what they have to do. The close call against a 3-win Spartans team notwithstanding, they are 10-1 with four straight wins since losing to the Nittany Lions.
A big performance from RB Mike Weber was instrumental on Saturday in the win for Ohio State. With halfback Curtis Samuel, Demario McCall, and quarterback JT Barrett, the Buckeyes run the ball very well, averaging 263 yards on the ground per game. The Buckeyes average nearly 44 points a game. Barrett can air it out too and has 24 touchdowns against only 4 picks. He has also scored 8 touchdowns on the ground. Samuel has caught 61 balls, scoring 14 touchdowns on the season on the ground and through the air. Noah Brown has caught 7 touchdowns, with Dontre Wilson adding five. There are a lot of guys on this offense that can get you. They have struggled several times in conference, with their 17-point output against Michigan State, as well as lukewarm showings against Northwestern and Penn State. That makes one wonder how illustrious they will be against a punishing and stout Michigan defense.
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As the top-ranked defense in the game, the U of M "D" gets a lot of the attention, but the Buckeyes defense has been critical in getting Ohio State to this point. They're 5th in total defense, while being 3rd against the pass and stout against the run, as well. They've given up an average of just 13 points this season. This defense has scored 6 times this season, led by the five interceptions of Malik Hooker and 4 by Marshon Lattimore. Look for this group to make life not so easy for the Wolverines offense.
This has the look of a real grind—two really good defenses where it could come down to who can make more big plays. And in that regard, an argument can be made for both teams. It's easy to picture either team winning in a rivalry game of this nature with two 10-1 teams. Ohio State has had Michigan's number, including a 42-13 win in Ann Arbor last season. And this one is in Columbus. This is a different Wolverines team, not the work-in-progress they were last season. They don't appear to be peaking heading into this matchup, but they should be at close-to-vintage form on Saturday. I like Michigan and the points.
Loot's Prediction to Cover the Point Spread: I'm betting on the Michigan Wolverines plus 6.5 points. Tired of your credit card not working for sportsbook deposit? End that problem today by signing up and betting the Wolverines vs. Buckeyes game from the comfort of your own home at Bovada Sportsbook where your credit card WILL work and where you'll receive a generous 100% sign-up bonus!