Ohio State vs. Michigan: Preview, odds and prediction

It doesn’t get bigger than Ohio State vs. Michigan in the Big Ten, and there is a lot on the line this season as Rivalry Week takes center stage. 

As we preview this huge game, we’ll provide some perspective, the latest betting odds and offer a final prediction.

Ohio State (No. 1) vs. Michigan (No. 13) odds, game info:

  • Start time: Noon ET on Saturday
  • Television: Fox
  • Odds: Ohio State (-8.5)

Ohio State has the upper hand: In recent history, the Buckeyes are dominating “The Game.”

The University of Michigan hired coach Jim Harbaugh in part to stop this trend, but so far he has been unable to do it.

  • Ohio State has a seven-game winning streak against Michigan.
  • Going back to 2001, Michigan has just two wins against Ohio State.

What’s on the line for Michigan? 

The Wolverines come into Saturday’s big game on a four-game winning streak with a solid 9-2 record. But with losses to Wisconsin and Penn State, Harbaugh really has to beat Ohio State to avoid heading into the 2020 campaign with a huge question mark on his back.

The College Football Playoff is out of the question for Michigan already. So this game is all about pride, both for Harbaugh and his players. It also would be a huge boost to the program’s recruiting efforts if Michigan were to somehow knock off the Buckeyes.

What’s on the line for Ohio State?

The Buckeyes are already in the Big Ten Championship Game. But a loss Saturday could set them up to miss the College Football Playoff. One-loss teams can get in, surely, but the conference title game is no gimme — whether it’s Minnesota or Wisconsin on the other side — with so much at stake.

With that in mind, Ohio State (11-0) needs to win this game to keep its undefeated season going and roll into the Playoff.

Key players for Ohio State: The following star players need to stay sharp and have big games for the Buckeyes to prevail.

  • Chase Young, defensive end: This young man is a nightmare for opposing offenses. He leads the nation with 16 1/2 sacks despite missing two games on suspension.
  • Justin Fields, quarterback: Somehow underrated as a Heisman finalist, Fields has been phenomenal in 2019. The dual-threat quarterback has racked up 2,797 yards and 43 touchdowns from scrimmage while throwing just one interception.
  • J.K. Dobbins, running back: One of the reasons Ohio State is so dangerous offensively is that Dobbins can rip off touchdown runs at any point, from anywhere on the field.

Key players for Michigan: The following Wolverines star players need to have the game of their lives for the Wolverines to pull off the huge upset.

  • Josh Uche, outside linebacker: This senior linebacker gets to the quarterback almost as often as Chase Young does. He has tallied 11 tackles for a loss and 7 1/2 sacks this season and must have a big day to slow down Justin Fields.
  • Lavert Hill, cornerback: Coming off a rough outing against Indiana in which he was flagged multiple times, Hill must be on his game Saturday. With six passes defensed and three interceptions, he’s Michigan’s top ball hawk.
  • Shea Patterson, quarterback: An up-and-down quarterback this year, Patterson cannot have a down day against Ohio State.

Ohio State vs. Michigan final thoughts: The only thing that has me even the slightest bit hesitant to go all-in on the Buckeyes is that Fields is banged up, having been injured late in last Saturday’s game.

Outside of Fields struggling to move, there’s not a lot to like about Michigan’s chances — even at home Saturday.

Ohio State’s offense is lethal, and balanced. Run or pass, the Buckeyes can get it done. On the defensive side, Chase Young has yet to be slowed down by anyone this season.

In other words, Shea Patterson better keep his head on a swivel.

Final prediction: Ohio State will beat Michigan, and the Buckeyes will also cover (-8.5).

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