The 118th edition of THE GAME is upon us this weekend in Columbus, Ohio, and will be one many people won’t want to miss. Ohio State is number two in the country, and Michigan is number three, and they both come in at 11-0.
Last year we saw Michigan end Ohio State’s eight-game winning streak over the Wolverines in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and Michigan out-toughed an Ohio State team that has been the one to push Michigan around for almost two decades.
This loss has been sitting with Ohio State for 365 days, and they can’t wait for Saturday at noon. Ohio State’s head coach Ryan Day looked lost last season in this game, and if you want to be successful at Ohio State, you must beat Michigan.
Michigan winning last season was probably the best thing to happen to this rivalry game since it has been two decades of Ohio State’s dominance, and the rivalry started to lose steam. So, Michigan winning last year and ending Ohio State’s season and playoff hopes were important.
Michigan ended up going to their first-ever playoff last year, where they got smacked around by the team going on to win the championship in Georgia. Still, Michigan even making the playoff was a huge accomplishment because many people thought they would never even sniff one.
With both teams coming into this game undefeated, it has 2006 written all over it when they were both ranked number one and two in the nation, and Ohio State would go on to win 42-39 in a classic.
These two teams are well matched up, and not many times can you say that in the last two decades about these two teams. Two Heisman hopefuls are playing Ohio State’s quarterback C.J. Stroud and Michigan’s running back Blake Corum.
The Coaching Matchup
Michigan’s head coach Jim Harbaugh knows a lot about playing in this game, and this goes back to when he played quarterback for the team in the mid-1980s. Unfortunately, Harbaugh has not done well coaching this game with a losing record of 1-5, and if it wasn’t for the win last season, he might never have gotten the chance to win one.
Harbaugh looked at leaving Michigan last year, and there were times when it looked like he was going to make a jump back to the NFL and be the head coach of the Minnesota Vikings. However, he would not get the job and return to try and keep this Michigan train rolling.
One of the best assistant coaches and offensive coordinators in college football last year Michigan’s Josh Gattis, jumped ship and left the program to join the University of Miami.
Michigan also lost their defensive coordinator from last season Mike Macdonald, who went back to the NFL and became the defensive coordinator of the Baltimore Ravens, where he spent a handful of seasons before he took the Michigan job in 2021.
Michigan would stay in-house and promote the offensive line coach and co-offensive coordinator Sherrone Moore and quarterback coach Matt Weiss as co-offensive coordinators. In addition, Michigan hired Jesse Minter as their new defensive coordinator.
Michigan wasn’t the only team to change coordinators this off-season. Ohio State hired Oklahoma State’s defensive coordinator Jim Knowles as their new defensive coordinator after Ohio State’s defense was terrible last season.
Ohio States head coach Ryan Day got the head coaching job after Urban Meyer stepped down after the 2018 season, and Day is 1-1 in this game. There was no game in 2020 due to Covid, so this will be Day’s third meeting as the head guy against Michigan.
This game is essential for Day since he decided to lose the game last year. You cannot fail against Michigan and expect to remain the coach. Urban Meyer went 7-0, and the head coach before that, Jim Tressel, went 9-1 against Michigan.
Day must win this game because losing to Michigan again, and this time at home, is not going to sit well in Columbus, Ohio, and that won’t be pretty for Buckeye fans and Day.
Ohio State has one of the best quarterbacks in the country in C.J. Stroud, and he might even be the first pick in next year’s NFL Draft. Stroud could win the Heisman trophy this weekend if he goes off and wins the game.
Stroud has the best wide receiver in college football to throw to in Marvin Harrison Jr., so good luck if you’re Michigan trying to stop him; the rest of the receiving core is pretty good, too, with Julian Fleming and Emeka Egbuka.
The best receiver in college football coming into the season was Ohio State’s Jaxson Smith-Njigba, but he has dealt with a hamstring injury all season and has only appeared in three games. So, we will have to wait and see what happens with him and if he will play this weekend.
Michigan has a pretty good quarterback too. The Sophomore J.J. McCarthy took over as quarterback early this season, and the offense has looked much better with him calling the shots than it has in years past. In addition, McCarthy is a great athlete, which Michigan has been dying to want at the position for years.
Blake Corum, one of the best running backs in college football, is in question. Corum got injured in the first half last week against Illinois and was only seen once in the second half. It sounds like Corum could play this weekend, but we will not know until right before the game.
Corum is the heart and soul of Michigan’s offense; without him, the offense has no identity. It will be tough to go to Columbus without your best playmaker and try to pull off a win.
Michigan also had a good handful of receivers in Ronnie Bell, Roman Wilson, and Cornelius Johnson. These guys will need big days if they want to win, and they will get their chances against an Ohio State secondary that has struggled at times.
Michigan is leading the country in total defense, which is a great thing to be leading going into the last weekend of the season, and this defense has played with their hair on fire all season long.
Michigan lost a ton of players from their defense last year, guys like Aidan Hutchinson, David Ojabo, and Daxton Hill. Hutchinson and Ojabo took over the game last year and made Stroud’s Day a nightmare.
Michigan will need its defense to step up in a big way and try to stop Ohio State’s elite passing attack, which will be very difficult.
Ohio State was horrible on defense in 2021, and in 2022, a lot has changed. They have a one-person wrecking crew in defensive end J.T Tuimoloau, who took the Penn State game in his hands a few weeks ago and won it himself.
Ohio State’s linebacker Tommy Eichenberg who looked lost at times last season has been outstanding this season and has tuned into the leader of the defense. He has played his way into the NFL and will need a huge day on Saturday.
Ohio State got destroyed against Michigan’s running game last year, and if that happens this year, you can forget it if you’re an Ohio State fan.
The Lack Of Big Time Opponents
The Big Ten was pathetic this season, and both teams have been waiting to play a massive opponent for some time now. Instead, they both played a top 15 team Penn State where Michigan beat them at home, and Ohio State took control late and beat them in Happy Valley.
Ohio State gets respect because they played Notre Dame in Week One, ranked number five at the time of the game. I know Notre Dame has struggled to lose to Marshall and Stanford this season, but they have been playing great recently and have found their way into the top 20.
Michigan decided a few years ago they wanted to buy out their home and home-scheduled games with UCLA in 2022 and 2023 and play three horrible non-conference games against Colorado State, Hawaii, and Connecticut.
A few weeks ago, College Game Day analyst and former Michigan wide receiver Desmond Howard called out Ohio State and said, “If they play a team with a pulse, they struggle.” I can’t sit here and let just let that go.
At least Ohio State showed some guts and played Notre Dame this season when Michigan decided they wanted to play three non-power five schools that stink and didn’t want to play UCLA, who was a pretty good football team this season.
If you want to call out Ohio State for struggling against teams that have had a pulse this season, and that has been true at times, and I’m not arguing that, but call out your team who has played nobody for 11 games but Penn State and took the easy way out.
Both teams had eight home games this year to four road games which is a little ridiculous, but they played the scheduling aspect right, and you must give credit to both teams.
Game time is almost here, and it’s time to pick a winner. Michigan has not gone to an environment like Columbus this season, and that will be a wake-up call. It is hard to operate your offense in an environment like this, and J.J. McCarthy has not had to do this before.
I think Corum being injured is a huge key to this game, and I think he will play, but even if he does play, he won’t be the same running back that we have seen all season because it won’t be easy for him to carry the ball 30 times with a banged-up knee.
Ohio State’s running back room has been banged up, too, with Miyan Williams being out and Treveyon Henderson banged up. We will have to see their status this Saturday morning.
Ohio State has not gotten over their loss from last season, and they get Michigan in their house. They will want to give them 60 minutes of physical football, and Ryan Day will have them ready.
I think Michigan’s question marks on offense will be difficult for them to score, and Ohio State will show off their passing attack for four quarters.
I like Ohio State to win this one 38-24, and Ohio State will claim the Big Ten East division.
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