Ohio State vs. Michigan odds, prediction, betting trends for The Game on FOX
No. 2 Ohio State faces No. 5 Michigan on Saturday in a top-10 showdown with the Big Ten East Division championship on the line.
Kickoff is scheduled for 12 pm. ET at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Mich. The game will be televised on FOX.
Ohio State (10-1) jumped to No. 2 after an eye-opening 56-7 victory against Michigan State in Week 12. The Buckeyes lead the FBS with an offense that averages 47.2 points per game, and Heisman favorite C.J. Stroud is throwing to an all-world receiving trio that includes Chris Olave, Garrett Wilson and Jaxon Smith-Njigba. Third-year coach Ryan Day still hasn’t lost a Big Ten game.
Michigan (10-1) is trying to break an eight-game losing streak to the Buckeyes in The Game, and this is coach Jim Harbaugh’s sixth crack at it as a head coach. The Wolverines rank seventh in the FBS with a defense that allows 16.7 points per game. Defensive ends Adian Hutchinson and David Ojabo have 10 sacks apiece, but do the Wolverines have enough offense to pull the upset?
BENDER: Howard, Ginn and the great punt returns in The Game
The stage is set for another classic between the storied Big Ten rivals, one that will impact the College Football Playoff rankings heading into the final week. With that in mind, here is everything you need to know to bet on the matchup between the Buckeyes and Wolverines.
Ohio State vs. Michigan odds
Three trends to know
— The Buckeyes are 2-2 ATS on the road this season, but all of those spreads were double digits. Ohio State is 8-0 against ranked opponents under Day, and they have won those games by an average of 23.1 points per game. Perhaps that’s why the line has pushed up 1.5 points from its open.
— Michigan is 0-5 against Ohio State under Harbaugh, but that’s not the startling part. The Buckeyes have won those five games by an average of 19 points per game. The only game to be decided by single digits was Ohio State’s 30-27 double-overtime victory in 2016.
— Michigan also is 2-13 against top-10 opponents under Harbaugh, and the last loss was the 37-33 shocker against Michigan State earlier this season. Harbaugh is 2-4 at home in those top-10 matchups. The two victories were against Wisconsin (2016) and Notre Dame (2019). Three of the four losses are to Ohio State, but this is the first time Michigan has brought a 10-1 record to a home matchup against the Buckeyes under Harbaugh.
Three things to watch
— How to slow down Stroud? Stroud continues to blossom around an NFL-caliber receiving corps that features Olave (848 yards, 13 TDs), Wilson (939 yards, 11 TDs) and Smith-Njigba (1,132 yards, 6 TDs), and that is going to stress Michigan defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald. Hutchinson and Ojabo have to land in edge pressure, and Josh Ross will have to be a factor at linebacker. Ohio State shredded Don Brown’s defense in the last two meetings. What can Macdonald do differently to slow Ohio State down?
— Michigan’s running game. Michigan ranks 15th in the FBS with a rush offense that averages 218.4 yards per game. Hassan Haskins (1,063 yards, 13 TDs) has been the lead back, and Blake Corum (778 yards, 10 TDs) could return after missing the last two games with a leg injury. The Wolverines are an inside running team, but will test the perimeter more like Oregon did on Sept. 11? The Buckeyes have allowed just 74.2 rushing yards per game since that loss to the Ducks. Defensive tackle Haskell Garrett (7.5 TFL, 5.5 sacks) has been at the heart of that turnaround. Who wins on the interior?
— Who is the difference-maker? Ohio State’s TreVeyon Henderson is a home-run hitter that the Wolverines haven not seen, and he can be more dangerous in space than Michigan State’s Kenneth Walker III, who had five TDs against Michigan. JK Dobbins had 211 rushing yards, 49 receiving yards and four total TDs in the last meeting. On the flip side, Harbaugh must trust quarterback Cade McNamara to air it out against the Buckeyes’ defense. In the last five meetings, Michigan’s QBs have hit 59.6% of their passes for an average of 253.2 yards with eight TDs and seven interceptions. How much will the Wolverines mix in freshman quarterback J.J. McCarthy? That is worth watching, too.
Stat that matters
Ohio State leads the FBS with 7.9 yards per play. Michigan is at 6.2; which is the same as Michigan State. That won’t work for the Wolverines on Saturday.
Here is a look at the disparity in the last three meetings since Day joined Ohio State’s staff in 2017.
Michigan is 10th in the FBS in yards per play allowed at 4.5. Ohio State is 16th at 4.8. Watch this statistic as the game unfolds.
Ohio State vs. Michigan prediction
This is Michigan’s best shot to end the drought since 2016, but there are striking differences between the teams since 2016. The Wolverines have a new-look defense that has worked with a first-year coordinator, and the Buckeyes have moved away from the power running game out of the shotgun.
It’s a matter of Michigan making it a four-quarter game, and that is going to be difficult given the many ways Ohio State can attack an opponent. Look for Henderson to be an X-factor early. Michigan will hang around if the running game is clicking, but McNamara will have to play his beat game of the season.
In the end, Ohio State simply is too much again. The Buckeyes advance to the Big Ten championship game for the fifth consecutive year with a chance to get back to the CFP for a third straight time with Day.
Final score: Ohio State 38, Michigan 26
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