They often say to keep your friends close and your enemies closer. With that being said, let's preview this week's opponent: the Michigan Wolverines.
The Animated Man in Khakis
Head coach Jim Harbaugh is looking for his first win against the Buckeyes since 1986 when he was the quarterback for the Wolverines. Harbaugh’s… unique personality includes a ridiculous appetite, extravagant press conferences, and creepy recruiting tactics.
Formerly of the San Francisco 49ers and Stanford Cardinals, Harbaugh is famous for turning programs into winners. He lifted Stanford from mediocrity to annual contender and brought San Francisco to its first Super Bowl appearance since 1994.
Despite this, he has largely failed to win big games while at Michigan. He has just two wins against Michigan State and none against the Buckeyes in four years.
A Very Short History of Michigan
This will painful to talk about, so I will keep it short.
Michigan is the winningest program in college football history with 953 victories. The program has eleven national championships, the second most of all time. The Wolverines also hold the most Big Ten Championships in the history of the conference. Michigan leads Ohio State in the all-time series 58-49-6, but the last six have gone to the Buckeyes.
A Run-Heavy Offense with an Outside Threat
Harbaugh’s offense is still stuck in the 20th century, utilizing a fullback and run-heavy offense to control the clock. Senior tailback Karan Higdon takes the majority of the carries and has taken advantage, averaging 5.3 yards per carry.
Shea Patterson, the quarterback transfer from Ole Miss, acts as a game manager and can put the game into the hands of Michigan’s athletes. His leading receiver, Donovan Peoples-Jones, is a physical target and can make up for his quarterback’s mistakes. Peoples-Jones is a true outside receiver and one of the best pass-catchers in the conference.
The Best Defense in the Nation
Michigan boasts the top defense in college football. Allowing just 13.6 points and under 120 passing yards per game, Haskins and co. will have their hands full trying to dissect Harbaugh’s defense.
Chase Winovich, Michigan’s star defensive lineman, suffered an upper-body injury against Indiana and may be unable to play. Even without him, the Wolverines’ defense is menacing; linebacker Devin Bush and safety Tyree Kinnel command their respective units and look to lead the maize-and-blue to victory for the first time in their collegiate careers.
The greatest rivalry in all of sports. Words cannot overstate how important this game is to these two teams, universities, and states.
As everyone knows, this year’s edition of The Game has major conference and playoff implications; the winner will have a date with Northwestern in Indianapolis and may be in the final four come next month.
Michigan holds a ten-game win streak and is one of the hottest teams in football while Ohio State has not played to expectations for much of the year despite their 10-1 record. But for the Buckeyes, all of their season-long miscues can be forgiven with a win over Michigan.