Saturday, November 30, 2013

Preview: Michigan vs. Ohio State

Rush Offense vs. Ohio Sate Rush Defense
Michigan is now 101st in yards/game with 129 and #114 with just 3.16 yards/carry. It's ugly. Michigan's interior offensive line is getting abused on a weekly basis, and there's no help in sight. Long-time starter Fitzgerald Toussaint is averaging 3.4 yards/carry, while freshman Derrick Green has taken the bulk of the carries for the past couple weeks and is still averaging only 3.1 yards/carry. Quarterback Devin Gardner is Michigan's big-play threat in the running game, but he looks battered and a step slower than he did in the first half of the year. The Wolverines have allowed 102 tackles for loss so far this year, second-worst in the nation to Idaho. Ohio State is #6 in the country and giving up just 95 yards/game on the ground, along with a 2.89 yards/carry average, which is good for #3 in the country. Their leading tackler is junior weakside linebacker Ryan Shazier (6'2", 230 lbs.) with 109 stops, followed by redshirt senior free safety C.J. Barnett (6'1", 204 lbs.) with 61. Yes, the leading tackler has 48 more tackles than the next guy. The entire front four was recruited by Michigan coming out of high school - freshman strongside end Joey Bosa (6'5", 275 lbs.), junior defensive tackle Michael Bennett (6'3", 285 lbs.), junior nose tackle Joel Hale (6'4", 310 lbs.), and sophomore weakside end Noah Spence (6'4", 252 lbs.). Shazier leads the team with a whopping 20.5 tackles for loss, while Spence, Bennett, and Bosa have 12.5, 10, and 9, respectively, and the Buckeyes rank #26 in the country with 75 tackles for loss as a team. The front four are going to overwhelm Michigan's offensive line, and Shazier is going to be free to roam.
Advantage: Ohio State

Pass Offense vs. Ohio State Pass Defense
Michigan has been tumbling in their pass efficiency, now ranking #46 in the nation (138.5) in that category, along with #63 at 234 yards passing/game. Gardner completes just 58.7% of his passes and has thrown 17 touchdowns to 11 interceptions. Wide receiver Jeremy Gallon has surpassed a thousand yards and now sits at 71 catches for 1,109 yards and 8 touchdowns. Tight end/wide receiver hybrid Devin Funchess is a 6'5", 235 lb. mismatch nightmare who has 43 catches for 686 yards and 5 scores, although Michigan rarely goes to him in the red zone. Gardner has been sacked 32 times, good enough for #112 in the country. Ohio State is #81 in passing defense, giving up 238 yards/game through the air with a 122.7 passer rating allowed (#50). They have made 13 interceptions, which is #34 in the nation, and the leading interceptors are cornerbacks redshirt junior Bradley Roby (5'11", 192 lbs.) and junior Doran Grant (5'11", 191 lbs.), both of whom have 3 picks and 1 touchdown. Spence leads the team with 7 sacks, while Shazier is just behind with 6.5; overall, the Buckeyes are #2 in that category with 36 on the year. Last year backup defensive tackle Adolphus Washington beat All-America left tackle Taylor Lewan for a sack, so one can only imagine what this front will do to Michigan's line this year. Michigan's receivers can beat OSU's secondary if Gardner has time, but that's a tall order.
Advantage: Ohio State

Rush Defense vs. Ohio State Rush Offense
The Wolverines give up just 116 yards/game, good enough for #14 in the country, and the 3.23 yards/carry allowed is #15. It's a very solid crew. The problem last week against Iowa arose when third-leading tackler Desmond Morgan (69), the middle linebacker, left in the first quarter with an injury, only to be followed out of the game by leading tackler James Ross (81), the weakside linebacker. Weakside end Frank Clark leads the team with 12.5 tackles for loss, and both strongside linebacker and utility defensive lineman Jibreel Black have 7.5 on the year. The Buckeyes have an experienced offensive line with fifth year senior Jack Mewhort (6'6", 308 lbs.), senior Andrew Norwell (6'6", 316 lbs.), fifth year senior Corey Linsley (6'3", 297 lbs.), fifth year senior Marcus Hall (6'5", 315 lbs.), and sophomore Taylor Decker (6'7", 315 lbs.) from left to right. That's a significant size advantage compared to Michigan's undersized defensive front. Ohio State gains 315 yards/game on the ground (#6 nationally) and averages 6.91 yards/carry (#1). They're led by senior Carlos Hyde (6'0", 235 lbs.;1,064 yards, 13 touchdowns), junior quarterback Braxton Miller (6'2", 215 lbs.; 738 yards, 5 touchdowns), and redshirt senior Jordan Hall (5'9", 191 lbs.; 519 yards, 8 touchdowns). Every offensive player who has notched a carry this season averages 5.32 yards per carry or higher. This is strength against strength but . . .
Advantage: Ohio State

Pass Defense vs. Ohio State Pass Offense
Michigan is the #80 pass defense in the nation in giving up 237 yards/game through the air, but they're #32 in passer efficiency rating allowed (118.17). Blake Countess grabbed his fifth interception of the year last week, and Raymon Taylor pulled in his fourth; those two have combined for the most interceptions by a cornerback duo since Charles Woodson (8) and Andre Weathers (2) combined for 10 picks in 1997. Overall, Michigan is #13 nationally in that category with 16 picks. The Wolverines are 69th with 21 quarterback takedowns, led by Clark and Cameron Gordon with 5 and 4, respectively. Ohio State throws for 216 yards/game, which is 77th in the nation. Miller and fifth year senior backup Kenny Guiton (6'3", 208 lbs.) have combined for a 164.92 passer rating, though, which is #8. They don't need to throw the ball as much when they run it so well. Miller has 19 touchdowns and 4 interceptions, while Guiton has 12 and 2. I mention both because Guiton is a very capable passer who started some games while Miller was hurt and still plays in certain packages because of his abilities; Guiton could probably start for most other Big Ten teams. The Buckeyes spread out the ball well, although defenses have adjusted to junior Devin Smith (6'1", 198 lbs.; 40 catches, 591 yards, 7 touchdowns) as a big play threat. Senior Corey Brown (6'0", 190 lbs.) leads the team with 49 receptions for 596 yards and 9 scores. Junior tight end Jeff Heuerman (6'6", 252 lbs.), the son of a former Michigan basketball player, has 22 catches for 314 yards and 4 touchdowns. The Buckeyes have allowed just 13 sacks this year, good enough for #11 in the country. The Wolverines have improved their passing defense in recent weeks and might be able to prevent big plays, but Miller's scrambling ability and the lack of a pass rush should allow the Buckeyes to march the ball down the field.
Advantage: Ohio State

Roster Notes
  • Players who held Michigan offers include CB Eli Apple, OT Darryl Baldwin, TE Marcus Baugh, DE Michael Bennett, S Devan Bogard, DE Joey Bosa, S Corey Brown, CB Cameron Burrows, CB Gareon Conley, OT Taylor Decker, OT Kyle Dodson, RB Bri'onte Dunn, LB Curtis Grant, CB Doran Grant, DT Joel Hale, RB Jordan Hall, OG Marcus Hall, TE Jeff Heuerman, DT Michael Hill, QB Cardale Jones, OT Evan Lisle, QB Braxton Miller, DE Steve Miller, OG Billy Price, CB Armani Reeves, DE Chris Rock, DT Tommy Schutt, WR Devin Smith, DE Noah Spence, S Ron Tanner, S Jayme Thompson, TE Nick Vannett, DE Adolphus Washington, and LB Camren Williams
  • DE Chris Rock signed with Michigan in 2011 and redshirted that year before quitting the team and walking on at Ohio State prior to the 2013 season.
  • CB Gareon Conley was once committed to Michigan.
  • Graduate assistant Bryant Haines was a Butkus Award finalist under Brady Hoke when Hoke was head coach at Ball State.
  • The only Michigan native on Ohio State's roster is freshman walk-on OG Ben Moffitt from Shelby Township (MI) Eisenhower.
Here's a link to the lengthy visitors list for this weekend.

  • We see Shane Morris at QB for an extended time, which will not go well.
  • Carlos Hyde runs over Michigan's defense for 160 yards and 2 touchdowns.
  • Michigan's quarterbacks get sacked 6 times and throw 2 picks.
  • Devin Funchess has a big game.
  • Ohio State 31, Michigan 17
Last Time They Played . . . 
  • Devin Gardner went 11/20 for 171 yards, 1 touchdown, and 1 interception
  • Roy Roundtree had a 75-yard touchdown catch
  • Denard Robinson ran 10 times for 122 yards, including a 67-yard touchdown
  • Ohio State 26, Michigan 21


  1. I think your predicted score is pretty optimistic. My guess is that it's going to be 56-10 or worse. Urban won't take his foot off the gas pedal. —Don

    1. lets hope it is close late into the 4 qtr

  2. I'd take 31-17. A loss, but not embarrassing.

    Aside, I hope Morris isn't traumatized by the experience (or severely injured) if he has to play lots of downs.

    1. I hope you're right.... but afraid you're probably wrong

  3. Ohio is going to try and shellack Mich good to make some media style pts and move up into the #2 spot. I am afraid to say that this game might go down as one of the worst home losses in Mich history to Ohio (might even be worse than the 68 whipping)...

    1968 game when Ohio State trounced Michigan 50–14, including going for two after their last touchdown in the game's final moments. After the game, when reporters asked Ohio State coach Woody Hayes why he went for two, Hayes replied "because I couldn't go for three!"

    1. Referring to OSU as Ohio is SO infantile! There is an Ohio U. Imagine MSU being called Michigan. It's the same, folks!
      Grow up!
      PRL (A UM fan)

    2. Why don't you grow up. It's a rivalry and we get at each other. Like there's only one school north of Columbus? Is that why they call is the TTUN/TSUN? How about Ohioans covering up the letter M?

      It's a rivalry. No need to be politically correct on every little thing.

  4. Always interesting to see how few players Ohio State has from Michigan

  5. I currently live in Ann Arbor, but I am moving out to the east coast in a few months -- so I am going to the game. Go Blue.

  6. Fascinating to watch the highlights from last year's game. Our defense played like heroes. Our offense showed some signs of the cracks that would develop into massive fissures this season. Gardner betrayed some of his worst tendencies--like not stepping up in the pocket to avoid pressure, holding on to the ball for too long, locking on to receivers, throwing to a favorite receiver in double/triple coverage--tendencies that have not been fixed in a full season of starting.

    We should have won that game last year. With our program in a shambles now, every victory we can lodge against OSU this decade is so important. Huge missed opportunity. Who knows when we'll beat them in Columbus again.

  7. Irony is a harsh acquaintance. Irony being the Defense that kept you in most games playing badly while the offense that struggled coming up king sized most of the game.

  8. It was close right into the last minute. Very proud of our kids. Played their hearts out. I realize that we are going to get better next year and the year after with young guys maturing. Go Blue.