Preview: Ohio State at #17 Michigan

By Johnny Ginter on November 25, 2011 at 12:31p
Denard is coming.
Ohio State Buckeyes Ohio State 6-5, 3-4 Big Ten Roster | Schedule 12:00 PM ET - ESPN —— Michigan Stadium Ann Arbor, MI Michigan Wolverines #17 Michigan 9-2, 5-2 Big Ten Roster | Schedule

"It is easy to go down to hell; Night and Day the Gates of Dark Death stand wide; But to climb back up again, to retrace ones steps to the open air, there lies the problem, the difficult task."

-Virgil, The Aeneid

There is true evil in this world. An ancient and brooding evil, relentless in its desire to consume all that is joy and light in this world, be it through an incessant, high pitched chattering of metal, or a poisonous whisper of arrogance, heard by millions as they struggle with the eternal conflict between that which is good and that which is not. Evil that cares not for truth, or justice, or hope, but instead only seeks to consume and destroy.

For within the blackened walls of the city of Ann Arbor dwells demons conjured up from the very fires of hell; their dark arts sustain the fires that fuel the furnaces of the University of Michigan, the fortress high on the dusty moor. Unspeakable acts once took place there; a traitor from the side of good nearly led them to ultimate victory a generation ago, his successor continuing his dark work and expanding ever more. But it was not to last, for the past ten years saw an unprecedented peace fall over the land as a steely-eyed paladin in vested garments fought back against the merchants of despair. He won contest after contest, intent on destroying the bellows that once stoked the fires of Ann Arbor. Evil retreated.

But it did not die. Though the University of Michigan lay in ruin, it's evil could not be fully extinguished. The remaining flicker turned into a spark, which turned into a flame, which now threatens once again to consume the whole of Middle West. Led by an unspeakable union of demon and human calling itself "Hoke," they have chosen the wolverine as their emblem, and are marching ever closer to dominance.

They must be stopped. A legion from Ohio State journeys north; undermanned and weak from internal strife, they know they have but one chance to salvage hope from what has been lost. The saint of martyrs, Luke, is at their helm. Here is the challenge that they face.


Denard Robinson is a maniacal dervish of pain and hate. His breakout year of 2010 was astounding; astounding in the sense that he somehow survived rushing the ball 256 times for over 1700 yards despite being a willowy husk of a human. This season he has been somewhat more limited in that capacity, as new offensive coordinator Al Borges would like Denard to be more of a QB than a tackling dummy. As a result, the Zingwraith is rushing for a somewhat less impressive 947 yards on 174 carries, but that still makes him the leading rusher on the team.

It may strike some of you as odd that I talk about Denard's rushing before his passing, but that's mainly because this sad little man is absolutely awful as a passer this year, completing just over half of his passes and having 14 interceptions to 15 touchdowns. The key to mitigating whatever Voldemort-esque magic that he can do with his legs is to take away any and all underneath routes, make sure that you've got the fastest guy on the team to spy him, and then let him chuck as many errant jump balls to Roundtree and Hemmingway as he desires. Iowa and Michigan State beat him by being the aggressors and forcing him to make decisions on the run. The Buckeyes will have to do the same.

This isn't actually much different from the game plan last year, but the x-factor this year is a conniving weasel named Fitzgerald Toussaint. Cast out from Youngstown and cursed to eternally wander the Earth alone, Toussaint has temporarily settled in as the primary back in Hoke's offense. In the last four games, Toussaint has sacrificed countless goats and managed to accumulate 6 touchdowns (5 of them on the ground) while averaging nearly 140 yards of rushing. He looks smaller than he is, and Michigan is just as willing to send him up the middle as they are to get him on the edge. Iowa more or less stopped him, which in tandem with slowing down Denard won them the game.

Yesterday Luke and I discussed how Michigan's fetid pile of excrement that last year they referred to as a "defense" is somehow much improved this year, and it is much helped by being led by Sith master Greg Mattison rather than literal circus clown Greg Robinson. Michigan's passing defense has benefited the most from this move, going from 112th to 14th in yardage given up per game. Kovacs, Woolfolk and Floyd are the three heads of a secondary Cerberus that is only giving up 184 yards through the air on average. Playing a relatively weak schedule with some poor passing offenses helps, but sadly one has to include Ohio State in that category.

Michigan also has some excellent playmakers on defensive line as well. When Brady Hoke sacrificed the orphan district of Ann Arbor to conjure the Balrog named Mike Martin, he got what he paid for. A relentless attacker, he and fellow denizen of the deep Will Heininger do a perversely admirable job at plugging the interior of the line. On the outside, a bat-demon taking the form of a human calling himself "Craig Roh" is the primary blitzer, accounting for 4 sacks this year. Ohio State's success or failure will depend on how well they attack this unit.

Buckeye Breakdown

The Eternal Braxton Miller has now a golden opportunity to enshrine himself in the Annals of Light with a magnificent game against the ultimate evil, just as many have before him. In 2004, Troy Smith gloriously pressed the circle button over and over to spin his way around and through Michigan defenders for 145 yards on the ground as he passed for 241 through the air. In 2007, Beanie Wells brutalized the Wolverines for 222 yards on 39 magnificent carries. And now, in 2011, Braxton has his shot to do the same. We've seen flashes of things to come this year. Tomorrow would be a good day to show it to everyone.

Of course, he'll need help. Posey the Avaricious and Herron the Bombastic, after a time wandering in the mists have returned to the fold, and they represent the most important parts of this offense. Posey is essentially the only consistent pass catching threat that the Buckeyes have; even Philly Brown, who was expected to provide a boost, has been somewhat lackluster since his return. Posey needs to find ways to get open through what is assuredly going to be multiple double teams.

Hope against Hoke

For his part, Boom needs to play the best game of his life. In his first three games back he looked like a season-changer, racking up 415 yards of rushing and 2 TDs. But Purdue and Penn State both got wise, and coupled with some poor offensive line play, the Boilermakers and the Lions limited Herron to 3.4 and 4.2 yards per carry, respectively. Carlos the Handsome may help here, but the coaches may be somewhat reluctant to give him the ball after his critical fumble last week.

The defense remains as confusing as ever. Despite worries that he might not play, Hankins looked deep within himself and managed to perform pretty well against Penn State. The loss of Sweat hurts, but really it's going to be younger guys like DT Joel Hale and LB Ryan Shazier who will have to be on point and stick to their assignments in an effort to shut down the Michigan running game.

The secondary still concerns me. When in zone, they still seem perplexed by who has what assignments, and their third and long defense has somehow gotten even worse. Man coverage is probably the best move here, but then you run the risk of getting eaten alive if the defensive line can't hold its ground. Because of this, the defensive line must dictate the flow of the game. Rotate Simon around until he finds a weak spot, line up Hankins at end, blitz Bryant a billion times it doesn't matter. Just do whatever needs to be done so that OSU lives up to its billing as the 17th ranked defense in the country from the first snap, and not after halftime.


In all seriousness, this should be a crazy and pretty incredible weekend. I guess should we lose this game we can all succor ourselves with the thought that Urban Meyer will soon be the new head coach, but I don't want to do that. I want to go into this new era of Ohio State football with my head held high, knowing that we just beat our eternal foe, on the road, in a game where we were not favored. I want to have the satisfaction of being able to tell Michigan fans that it doesn't matter who our coach is, or what the NCAA says, or who got suspended when. I want to have the pleasure of saying that we're winners and you're losers, not because of some hold Jim Tressel has over Rodriguez or because we're playing with guys who shouldn't be or because it's a home game or whatever, but because despite everything, Ohio State was the better team on November 26th, 2011 and there wasn't a damn thing you could do about it.

This week there are no King Cool Guys or Queen Sad Guys or Prince Cool Ladies. There are only winners and losers. We're going to be winners.


But sadly, not this year.

Ohio State 22, Michigan 24


Comments Show All Comments

DJ Byrnes's picture


Californian by birth, Marionaire by the Grace of President Warren G. Harding.

TatumRuled's picture

OK, here's a bad omen: The Dispatch took down their 'days since we last lost to Michigan' ticker.

Instead, they replaced it with 'minutes until we play in Ann Arbor'...Good thing I'm not superstitious

"Hell, Woody didn't recruit me; he recruited my mother!" -Jack Tatum                       

Johnny Ginter's picture

eh, they do that every year

helloheisman's picture

Great story...I loved it bring on the game...Go blue

Menexenus's picture

Great story - until the end, that is!  Loved the Tolkien-esque, good-vs.-evil description at the beginning.  Hated the prediction at the end.  Have some faith, my brother!

"We got this."  <wink>  :-)

Real fans stay for Carmen.

TheHostileDwarf's picture

Bullshit. Ohio State will win. (Great article aside from the prediction, though).

Matt's picture

I read earlier this week that Bryant and Philly Brown were questionable.  Has that changed?

Johnny Ginter's picture

philly should be good to go, dunno about bryant but it may be one of those michigan game non-injuries

ck's picture

Bold prediction. That's why I always love you guys here - you're not afraid to be brutally honest and don't lay thick on hyperbole about what lies ahead. ANYTHING can happen in this game, but sadly I think the prediction is right. I will hold out hope that we will make this probably the most exciting Game since 2006.

tampa buckeye's picture

Ive got a good feeling about this one. Fick lets it all go on offense

Buckeye Black's picture

Come on guys! Did you just predict M*ch*g*n OVER The Ohio State University!?  Was it OVER when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor!?  The past games mean nothing this week.  I can't read such blasphemy....  Braxton throws for 2, runs for 1 and Boom goes out in style with 150+ and a TD.  31-21 baby!  Screw Blue.

buckeyes763's picture

The Germans didnt bomb Pearl Harbor....

Powers's picture

really buckeyes763? ever seen that old independant comedy titled... ANIMAL HOUSE??

Dr. Kenneth Noisewater's picture

hey lighten up, in his defense almost no one has seen that rare movie, much less quote it....

Bucks43201's picture

I'm sure James Westfall would agree.

"You win with people." - Woody Hayes

Baroclinicity's picture

What about the Octagon?

When you're holding a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

GoBucks713's picture

Powers, before you start chastising someone about not knowing the movie, maybe you should know that his line is from the same movie. Know your quotes before calling shenanigans.

-The Aristocrats!

NoVA Buckeye's picture

they influenced pearl harbor

The offseason begins when your season ends. Even then there are no days off.

madhatterhater's picture

Watching the 2006 game on BTN. All of this passing is strange!

go bucks

jack's picture

Muck Fichigan.

I hate these bastards.


Bucks's picture

Talent is still on the side of Ohio State, I just have no faith in the Offensive staff to utilize it. If I see UM lined up 10 & 12 yards off Posey w/o some quick slant passing to him again ... my t.v. will probably end up with a boo-boo.

I can easily see the team coming out inspired & the gameplan being incredible though ... which will leave us all going "where was that all year!!"

With as confident as Michigan fans are, I would love to see them get pegged back down.

flipbuckeye's picture

If a DB gives Posey a 10 yard cushion, Bollman will call the slowest developing screen ever with no blockers and leave Posey a sitting duck.

LABuckeye's picture

I think a ten-yard cushion still requires more precision than our players can handle in Bollman's mind.

cplunk's picture

Yup, thats Bolls. He'll call the first ever play-action quick screen to the WR

unknownmusketeer's picture

MikeHumesESPN Mike Humes
Urban Meyer won't be appearing on ESPN this weekend. He requested off his studio assignment and we obliged.

Bucks43201's picture

Guys -- I have a feeling that Boom Herron and DeVier Posey are going to take over that game tomorrow.

There's a feeling of let-down after losing to PSU at home last week, which will turn into a sense of urgency by these seniors -- and they realize the only way to atone for that loss will be to beat scUM in Ann Arbwhore. I feel like these guys are going to leave everything on that field tomorrow, and then some. Herron will have over 120 yards and a few TDs, and Posey will have near 100 yards receiving. If Boom doesn't have at least 25-30 carries, then the offensive playcalling failed (yet again), but I think they realize they need to ride Boom on every drive.

I just have a feeling Dan Herron will put this team on his back tomorrow and OSU will win this game.

"You win with people." - Woody Hayes

Bucks's picture

I hope you're right but I  fear that will be the issue. Rely on pretty much Boom Herron for the entire game.

Bucks43201's picture

...yes, but I think it will be a case of scUM knows what's coming, and everybody in the stadium knows what's coming --- but they can't stop it. Sprinkle in some Braxton, of course, but I just have a feeling Boom will not be stopped.

"You win with people." - Woody Hayes

The Braden's picture

Well, they at least owe that much to themselves, their team mates, and the fan base. 

So, yeah, go get out there and win it!

The Braden's picture



Denny's picture

Pretty excited to shock the world, you guys.


onetwentyeight's picture

Can we just let urban call the plays? I really dont give a SH*T if he hasn't seen any of the guys practice or was just handed the play sheet 15 minutes before the game started. It would still be better than The Walrus. 

Hell, plucking a random HS Coach off the field anywhere in Ohio and they'd call a better game. 

Carolina Buckeye's picture

Presser at 1 PM Sunday to introduce Urban as new coach.  Coincides with the beginning of the recruiting period.  UM not messing around!

Carolina Buckeye's picture

He's been pulled from ESPN studio this Saturday.

B Castel from O-Zone has tweeted something similar

Recruiting period starts Sunday.

My source who runs A/V for the athletic department has confirmed this, I'm not going to put his name out here though

It might not be right at 1PM...but I would be pretty shocked if it wasn't announced Sunday.


LABuckeye's picture

I think everyone knows about everything else, but you definitively stated there was a press conference scheduled for 1 on Sunday to announce him as coach... that is where unfounded rumors get started. 

Carolina Buckeye's picture

That's funny...I haven't seen anything on this site that says he will be introduced with certainty on Sunday. Apparently, everyone knows this though...

If you look through all of the Urban threads for the last 2 months, you won't find a comment from me participating in the rumor mill.

I worked for the athletic department from 2004-2008 and when BCast tweeted he would be announced Sunday, I called a former co-worker to confirm his tweet, which he did for me.

It's OK though, I'll accept your apology Sunday, around 1:30PM

Carolina Buckeye's picture

So I may be wrong with the time, during my time there, press conferences and events were certainly known to change on a whim, which is certainly possible Sunday. Plans change.

He will be introduced Sunday though.

I take offense to you attacking me for bringing information I felt was relevant to this board, with a pretty trusted source.  I guess its why I just don't particpate on these boards much.  Catch flak for trying to bring information to light for buckeye nation

LABuckeye's picture

Attacking you? I wasn't attacking you. You said "Presser at 1 PM Sunday to introduce Urban as new coach." That was stated as a statement of fact. I asked what the source was because that was new information... you are the only report I have seen that there is a scheduled press conference, so I wondered where you got that information. Your reply (in part) was "It might not be right at 1PM...but I would be pretty shocked if it wasn't announced Sunday." So in other words, you are not even sure of the day. So I don't see how my statement is an attack. 

LABuckeye's picture

And to ask for an apology is ridiculous. Was there some point where I said there isn't a press conference? I just asked you for a source and you didn't state any definitive sources until you got defensive.

Carolina Buckeye's picture

you implied that I was contributing to the rumor mill. I gave you my sources, which by the way, also includes Colin Cowherd, an employee for Meyer's former employer.

Hey don't apologize, I won't post anything anymore, no need to give information to people who don't appreciate it

Carolina Buckeye's picture

and since you're into dicing up my statements...I never asked for an apology. I said I would accept one, bud

LABuckeye's picture

Carolina... come on. Have a drink. Chill. We're all friends and Buckeyes here (except for the few skunkweasels that post here). 

Carolina Buckeye's picture

Feel the same way about you LA,...chill. I don't mind you asking for a source, I do mind you insinuating that I am starting rumors. I'm done bickering about it though, you don't know I worked there, you don't know who I know, so I don't fault you for having doubt. There's bigger things to worry about though, like locking Meatchicken in the woodshed for another 365 days.

LABuckeye's picture

Hey there... we agree.

dsbgobux's picture

This is what I love about being a Buckeye! We can disagree, but in the end it is still all about the BUCKS KICKING THE CRAP OUT OF M*CH!



Buckeye in PA purgatory

Carolina Buckeye's picture

And don't get me wrong, I tire of the rumors too. So I certainly understand your skepticism and thats why I don't participate much in the boards. I figured I would bring it to light though since I had heard from a trusted source who runs A/V for the football team. 

I probably should have avoided the 1:00PM time though, there are so many variables that play into when that event will take place, such as Meyer being in Cincinatti for his Father's memorial service today. I would even say there is a possibility that maybe it turns out there isn't a press conference for Meyer Sunday, the press conference may be Luke stepping down, paving the way in the coming days FOR Meyer.

I trust Brandon Castel though, he rarely misreports happenings. Combine that with Meyer stepping away from ESPN and Cowherd confirming he will be introduced Sunday, confirmation from my source within the department and the fact that the recruiting period starts at the strike of midnight Saturday night, I feel confident what I reported earlier is accurate.

Chances Urban Meyer is introduced Sunday: 90%

Chances we crap on the whole state of Michigan tomorrow? 110%