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It has been ten years since this game mattered to the entire country, the Buckeyes have dominated this rivalry over those ten years. But tomorrow the game matters to the country as a whole again as college football’s Hatfields and McCoys are playing for a college football playoff berth. Below we are going to look at the main storylines for this classic matchup.

The Heisman Trophy

J.T. Barrett and Jabrill Peppers both are longshots to win the Heisman trophy. But, the magnitude of this game means that if Lamar Jackson was to have another sub-par performance he may crack the door open for a few players. It would take a superhuman performance by Barrett or Peppers, but both players are capable of doing just that.

 

Michigan’s Quarterback situation

Wilton Speight suffered what appeared to be a collarbone injury in Michigan’s only loss of the season 14-13 to Iowa.

Multiple outlets reported Speight broke his collarbone and is out for the remainder of the regular season. Harbaugh refuted that time and again, claiming Speight is “day-to-day,” before confirming that the quarterback practiced this week alongside backup John O’Korn. The latter started and played the whole game against Indiana; he was far from efficient throwing for just 59 yards in the snow.

Asked on the radio this week if it is fair to say it is 50-50 who will start against the Buckeyes, Harbaugh didn’t offer up much.

2016 STATISTICAL COMPARISON
Ohio State Buckeyes Wolverines
OFFENSE
43.8 5th POINTS FOR 42.3 11th
263.1 8th RUSHING OFFENSE 235.3 19th
230.0 68th PASSING OFFENSE 215.8 82nd
493.1 21st TOTAL OFFENSE 451.1 38th
.515 9th 3rd DOWNS .438 42nd
.893 29th RED ZONE .914 16th
DEFENSE
13.0 3rd POINTS ALLOWED 10.9 1st
120.3 18th RUSH DEFENSE 108.6 10th
159.5 3rd PASS DEFENSE 137.0 1st
88.1 1st PASS EFFICIENCY DEFENSE 94.2 2nd
279.8 4th TOTAL DEFENSE 245.6 1st
.288 7th 3rd DOWNS .211 1st
.700 8th RED ZONE .684 5th
SPECIAL TEAMS
5.5 96th PUNT RETURN 16.1 1st
24.1 14th KICKOFF RETURN 17.3 121st
42.2 5th NET PUNTING 36.4 83rd
MISCELLANEOUS
+ 1.3 4th TURNOVER MARGIN + 0.7 15th
6.6 78th PENALTIES 4.7 18th
9 EDGE 9

“It’s accurate. They both practiced,” Harbaugh said. “That was Tuesday. Today is a new day. It was a good day for us yesterday. Our ball club had an excellent Tuesday practice, and we look forward to Saturday”. Is Harbaugh just saying this to keep Ohio State guessing about who is going to play QB?

 

Biggest keys to the game

How will the Wolverines use Peppers and if their offensive line can protect whoever is playing quarterback will determine if they can move the ball with any consistency. Ohio State’s defense gave up some chunk plays to L.J. Scott and Michigan State a week ago. Michigan has talent that can cause problems for a defense but not if its quarterback is unable to get the ball to those skill players.

Speight is clearly the better option than O’Korn, but there is no doubt Harbaugh will have his team ready. There is too much at stake not to.

Can the Wolverines slow down Barrett and the Buckeyes offense? T I think they will be able to slow them down, but in the end can the Wolverines score enough points. I don’t see Michigan holding the Buckeyes under 20 points, so they are going to have to be at least mildly successful throwing the ball.

 

Prediction: I just can’t see Michigan scoring enough points to win this game. I think the defense will keep them in the game for awhile, but in the end, they will eventually be worn down by the Buckeyes high powered offense. Ohio State 31  Michigan 10.