Michigan vs. Ohio State. The Wolverines vs. the Buckeyes. U of M vs. OSU. No matter how you say it, in Big Ten country, this rivalry runs deep. That’s why it is also known as “The Game.” For the first time in a long time when the Wolverines and Buckeyes meet Saturday at high Noon from the horseshoe in Columbus, Ohio, it will have serious implications for both teams.
While Michigan Wolverine fans will tell you how much they hate Ohio State, and how the Buckeyes faithful fans dislike Michigan so much that they even refer to them on the yearly team schedule as “the team up north,” the truth of the matter is that neither one of them would be as successful without this rivalry.
Everyone has to have a rivalry, a big game that pushes you to get better and stronger. That is what this rivalry is for Michigan and Ohio State.
The Buckeyes have had the best of the Wolverines over the past decade, however, that was the direct opposite during the Lloyd Carr era at Michigan, almost two decades ago. Nevertheless, it seems that Urban Meyer and Jim Harbaugh have brought back stability to both squads and when the two meet Saturday afternoon, the winner will play in the Big Ten championship game and most likely go on to the college football playoffs.
Ohio State could beat Michigan Saturday afternoon and still not go to the Big Ten title game. OSU needs to win and have Michigan State beat Penn State to advance to the Big Ten Championship.
Right now, Urban Meyer is probably thinking more about the NCAA playoffs than a Big Ten title shot. Nevertheless, CBS Sports reports that Saturday’s clash will be the biggest in the series since the epic 2006 game when the teams entered as Nos. 1 and 2 in the country.
Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh knows that Ohio State has got the best of the Wolverines in recent history. In fact, the Buckeyes have not lost to the Wolverines in Columbus since 2000. Harbaugh feels his team is ready for the trip to Columbus on Saturday.
“I feel like we’re ready to go to battle, in a football kind of way,” Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh said. “And I’m ready to lead them.”
Both teams enter Saturday’s game at 10-1 overall and 7-1 in Big Ten play.
So who will win this big game? It is a tough one to call. A big factor will be who will play quarterback for the Wolverines.
Wilton Speight injured his shoulder vs. Iowa two weeks ago, which caused him to miss last Saturday’s win over Indiana. Backup quarterback John O’Korn got the start and produced Michigan’s lowest passing output since 2001 – but the Wolverines still got the win. Coach Harbaugh isn’t tipping his hand yet to say which quarterback will get the start Saturday.
Las Vegas odds makers have the Buckeyes listed as a 7 point favorite, with the over/under point total set at 44.5.
Prediction – It will be tough for the Wolverines to win on the road, especially if they are without Speight. However, the points look nice here. Wisconsin, Northwestern and Michigan State all hung tough with Ohio State in recent weeks. Actually, many experts would argue that all of them should have beaten the Buckeyes. That is all water under the bridge now, but the point is that the “better” teams in the Big Ten all gave OSU a run for their money – and so will Michigan.
This game should come down to who has the ball last.
Pick – Michigan +7
Fans can catch this big game on ABC nationally starting at Noon ET. The Michigan vs. Ohio State 2016 game will also stream live on Watch ESPN.
[Featured Image by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images]