The Game (2021) | #2 Ohio State @ #5 TTUN | November 27th, 2021 @ High Noon

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Stark

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macbdog

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I can see this being the year scUM finally beats the Buckeyes. I think this tOSU team is weaker than prior years and if they don't come out dominating they seem to wilt. If Penn State had even a mildly healthy/competent QB, for example, they would have beaten the Buckeyes. I see scUM finally getting one. It's kind of due; even Cooper beat scUM once. I can easily see the Ichiganders in my family being insufferable about it, too.
 

TheLand1287

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I can see this being the year scUM finally beats the Buckeyes. I think this tOSU team is weaker than prior years and if they don't come out dominating they seem to wilt. If Penn State had even a mildly healthy/competent QB, for example, they would have beaten the Buckeyes. I see scUM finally getting one. It's kind of due; even Cooper beat scUM once. I can easily see the Ichiganders in my family being insufferable about it, too.

Why are you always such a pessimistic wet blanket?
 

CleveRocks

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I can see it being an epic game.. Michigan will be sharpening the axes, but OSU can be a juggernaught. If the OSU defense shows up, the bucks win..
 

col63onel

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I hope that @I'mWithDan or other Michigan fans can come in here and give their assessment. I've watched them some and read some stuff and looked at some stats and here's what I came up with.

Their defense is obviously good. They're 7th in ppg and passing ypa, and t27th is rushing ypa, and 60th in turnovers. Adrian Martinez threw for over 10 ypa, and he's the only QB over 8 ypa vs them, and Nebraska was ok in the run game, too. Graham Mertz of Wisconsin and Dylan Morris of Washington had over 7 ypa, but both teams got nothing on the ground. The only other team that really did anything offensively was MSU, and that was mostly because Kenneth Walker ran for 8.6 ypa (Peyton Thorne was 6.5 ypa, which is solidly below average).

The best offense they've played is probably MSU. At the very least MSU at that point season was better than Wisconsin back when they didn't know Braelon Allen was a thing. OSU is by far the best offense they've played. Michigan is the best defense OSU has played, but I do think Penn State isn't terribly far off.

Michigan's 2 best players are DEs Aiden Hutchinson and David Ojabo. Both have over 10 sacks are likely 1st round picks. S Dax Hill is really good, but I can't say I know a whole lot about the rest of their personnel on defense. The best thing Michigan's defense might have going for it is that Don Brown is no longer their DC. Brown had a lot of success, but he relied way too much on man coverage, and no secondary in America is good enough to cover these receivers like that for a full game. Harbaugh brought in Mike Macdonald from his brother's staff, and it seems to be going well.

Michigan's offense seems very old school. They are 17th in the country in rushing attempts per game and 94th in pass attempts. They are efficient when they throw: Cade McNamara averages 8.1 ypa and JJ Mcarthey, who's played meaningful snaps in most games, averages 9.2. However, it's often very low volume, and usually a lot less efficient on high volumes. They threw 30 times vs Wisconsin (McNamara was only at 7 ypa on 28 attempts but McAthey completed his only pass for 56 yards), 39 times vs Nebraska (6.7 ypa), 32 times vs NW (5.1 ypa), and 29 times vs PSU for 7.5. The 2 best throwing performances, by a wide margin, were 8.5 on 48 attempts vs MSU and 8 ypa on 28 attempts vs Indiana. Understandably, none of their pass catchers stand out statisitcally, with Cornelius Johnson leading the team with 35 catches, 546 yards and 3 tds.

Michigan has used 2 backs for most of the year. Hassan Haskins is over 1000 yards at 4.9 ypc. Blake Corum is at 778 yards at 6 ypc, but he's missed the last 2 games and his status for Saturday is unknown. Frosh 5* Donovan Edwards has 149 yards on the year, but managed 10 catches for 170 yards last week (had 2 catches before that).

It seems obvious Michigan can't win a shootout, and probably can't even keep it close in that setting. However, they are more than capable of limiting OSU's offense and dominating TOP with the running game. They'll likely need to do obvious things like win the turnover battle (or at least don't lose it) and be better in the redzone than OSU.

OSU is the favorite. To me, the key for Michigan to win is for Hutchinson and Ojabo to really affect Stroud. If they can do that, they can definitely win this game. But OSU neutralizes them without having to spend a ton of resources on it, OSU could pull away.
 

I'mWithDan

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I think a lot will depend on how willing OSU is to run the ball and stick with it. Michigan has been really stingy in the pass game but they play faster, lighter players in the second level and they have been susceptible to getting swallowed up at the point of attack.

Offensively, I think Michigan will have success. They do a really nice job mixing up calls and stacking plays…..and their run game should show up against anyone. I don’t have a ton of concern there. Their line specifically has just been elite in all phases.……but my one big worry is the explosive capability of Henderson. It isn’t that I’m not worried about OSU’s receivers, I just think Michigan has the length / athleticism and CB skill to at least compete well there……but MSU killed them at the second level and PSU was effective enough to win, had they gotten a few more plays in the pass game.

As a Michigan fan, I want to see OSU throw the ball a lot. I think with how dominant their ends have been, and how well their pass coverage has held up, that is their most likely avenue to win. If OSU comes out with a run heavy gameplan, mixing in some PA or deep misdirection passing, I think Michigan could get behind the 8 ball early. As they just don’t have the stout second level players to absorb power offense for 4 quarters….but they certainly have the personnel to pin their ears back, cover well and try to create large swing plays via sacks or turnovers.
 
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I'mWithDan

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S Dax Hill is really good, but I can't say I know a whole lot about the rest of their personnel on defense

Their secondary is fun. Lots of length. All 8 guys in the 2 deep are 6'0" or better.

D-line is great.....especially their ends.

Their LB's are underwhelming. They try to play nickel and dime to get as many off the field as possible.

They have also experimented with playing a Viper style LB on the weak side, with mixed results.

If you watch the tape from MSU, especially late, the LB's are getting easily blocked at the POA or simply filling the wrong gap. I suspect OSU has seen this tape and will run a lot more than people are expecting but we shall see.
 

col63onel

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If OSU comes out with a run heavy gameplan
It depends on what you mean by "run heavy", but I don't think I agree. OSU has pretty much the best WRs and passing game in country, so I don't think it's wise to face your best opponent and say, "let's not do the thing we're great at nearly as much."

OSU has been pretty balanced most of the year. They're 52:48 pass:run on the year. If you correct for garbage time, I'd guess they are about 3:2 during the competitive parts of games. The only games where they've really been out of balance were Oregon and Nebraska, and that was in large part because they didn't run the ball very well they tried (also the score dictated throwing more vs Oregon).

I certainly agree than mixing in run with pass with some misdirection, play action, jet sweeps, etc is the way to go, but they've been doing that all year. But going 'run heavy' is limiting your best players.
 

TheLand1287

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For all the attention that Ojabo and Hutchinson are getting, and rightfully so, they make up 20 of their 28 sacks. And Ohio State has basically 4 OTs starting on their line so I feel decent about their ability to contain them. Meanwhile, Ohio State doesn’t have a single guy that’s above 5 sacks but as a team they have more than Michigan with 35.

Hutchinson and Ojabo rarely come off the field so Ohio State should try and go hurry up when they can to 1) wear those two out, and 2) try and catch Michigan confused and not properly aligned.

Another thing… I don’t have the numbers in front of me, but Michigan hasn’t really played a quality offense at all. The best is Michigan State or Nebraska and I don’t think either is even in the top 40 or 50 of total team offense in the country. So, while I do think this will be the offense’s toughest test yet taking road environment into account, we’re going to see what their defense is really made of in this game.

The one and really only thing that truly worries me is that the ball is primarily going to be in the hands of two freshman (Stroud and Henderson) for the entire game. On the road, against their rival, in a hostile environment, with everything at stake. No lie that part scares me. But I trust Day and the upperclassmen on the team to keep them calm. Overall, with how young this team is and from not playing The Game last year there are a lot of kids that haven’t played against Michigan before. Hoping Day brought in some OSU Alumni this week to preach the importance of the game. Although with the stakes involved (B1G title, CFP, Heisman for Stroud) that should be motivation enough.
 

I'mWithDan

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For all the attention that Ojabo and Hutchinson are getting, and rightfully so, they make up 20 of their 28 sacks. And Ohio State has basically 4 OTs starting on their line so I feel decent about their ability to contain them. Meanwhile, Ohio State doesn’t have a single guy that’s above 5 sacks but as a team they have more than Michigan with 35.

It is worth noting Michigan has an edge in sacks per drop back.

Michigan has faced 30.6 pass attempts per game.

Ohio State has faced 37.9 pass attempts per game.

So the counting stats are a little misleading.

Michigan has been able to generate pressure rushing only 4, because their ends have been so good, so that is obviously a huge advantage defensively.

Certainly will be an interesting matchup to watch, as I don’t think Michigan can win if they consistently need to commit more guys to generate pressure. It will put too much stress on their cover unit.
 

TheLand1287

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It is worth noting Michigan has an edge in sacks per drop back.

Michigan has faced 30.6 pass attempts per game.

Ohio State has faced 37.9 pass attempts per game.

So the counting stats are a little misleading.

Michigan has been able to generate pressure rushing only 4, because their ends have been so good, so that is obviously a huge advantage defensively.

Certainly will be an interesting matchup to watch, as I don’t think Michigan can win if they consistently need to commit more guys to generate pressure. It will put too much stress on their cover unit.

I mean, we’re talking a minuscule difference on the sacks if you want to factor in number of drop backs. Not out here trying to be misleading. More or less just trying to point out while there is no double digit sack guy they still generate pressure and get sacks just as effectively as Michigan by rotating and keeping guys fresh. Ohio State usually only rushes 4 too. Of their 35 sacks all but 4.5 of them have come from defensive linemen.

I hate to wish this long holiday weekend away but I’m just so ready for Saturday at noon. I do think it’ll be a great game and I look forward to it more than any sporting event every year. So add the fact last year’s game didn’t happen… and yeah, let’s throw all the stats and speculation out the window and see these guys take the field.
 

CATS44

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I dont think either team is going to stray from what they do, esp on offense. UM will try to control the clock. OSU will go for big chunk plays.

As stated by everybody, the key will probably be UMs DEs against OSUs O line. If Stroud is allowed to sit in a rocking chair, no defensive backfield can cover the Buckeye WRs.

Michigan will attack what I think is a suspect defense by doing what it does best...run the ball and supplement that with an efficient possession passing game. OSUs defense will be in more of a contain than attack defense most of the time...picking spots to attack.

The LBs for both teams are weak spots.

If this was a heavyweight fight, OSU would be going for an early knockout, while UM would be the body puncher, hoping to wear the opponent down and win in the late rounds.

If you are into UM history, Harbaugh will be channeling the inner Bo.

If you are into OSU history, Day may be channeling the inner Francis 'Close the Gates of Mercy' Schmidt.

There has been national talk of a dream match-up between Georgias defense and OSUs offense. This may be a preview, but only if OSU prevails on Saturday.
 

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