The bitter rivalry between Ohio State and Michigan is set for this Saturday. Michigan looks to crush the BCS hopes of the Buckeyes, but that will be no easy feat with OSU looking for a National Championship bid. We break down the college football odds and share with you our college football picks.
Six times in the past have the Ohio State Buckeyes ruined an undefeated season for the Michigan Wolverines. Michigan has done the same to Ohio State five times, and the Wolverines would love nothing more than to even that score Saturday afternoon in Ann Arbor.
The final day of November finds the two old rivals squaring off in their final regular season games, though we know the Buckeyes will play two more games while the Wolverines appear in one extra. ABC broadcasts the noon (ET) kickoff at Michigan Stadium, and Ohio State is the decided favorite laying 14.5 points.
SBR's live college football odds show 58 for the scoreboard mark, that figure down a half-point from the initial release at some sportsbooks.
Ohio State has already wrapped up the Leaders Division of the Big Ten, and meets Michigan State a week from now in the conference championship. But head coach Urban Meyer and the Buckeyes are looking even past that and to a potential BCS title match. Michigan's 5-0 start to the 2013 season came crashing down with setbacks in four of their last six contests; a win this week would help Brady Hoke and the Wolverines forget some of that pain and guarantee a second straight 8-win season.
"I Think It's A Flawed System"
That's what Meyer had to say about the BCS a week ago prior to his Buckeyes putting a 42-14 beat-down on the Indiana Hoosiers. Meyer didn't mention anything about his 2006 and 2008 BCS Championships while at Florida being flawed, however, and if Ohio State can somehow make it to this season's title game, I'm guessing he'll be willing to look past any flaws.
It is no doubt frustrating for Meyer and OSU to have won 23 straight games and still not be sitting at least No. 2 in the polls; but then, some of that is Ohio State's own doing, as well as the Big Ten's overall ranking behind other conferences. The Buckeyes have played just two teams that were ranked at the time of the matchups, Wisconsin and Northwestern, and Wisconsin is the only one of those left in the top 25 of the BCS Standings.
Having a shot at an 11-1 Michigan State team in the conference championship, assuming the Spartans do take down Minnesota in their regular season finale this week, could help the Buckeyes' chances. But then, that's assuming Ohio State wins that one after convincingly beating the Wolverines.
The Buckeyes will be facing their toughest defense since beating Wisconsin 31-24 in late September. Braxton Miller had missed the previous two games for OSU, but returned to lead the offense with four touchdown passes to help build a 31-14 lead in that game. The junior is going to have to go to the air to win this one as well, with the Wolverines stop unit 14th against the run.
Michigan Seeks Just 2nd Series Win In 10 Years
The Wolverines have the all-time lead in this rivalry (58-45-6), but they've been dominated by the Buckeyes in recent years. Ohio State has won eight of the last nine, Michigan's only win in that stretch coming in 2010 when the Buckeyes all but laid down at the end of Jim Tressel's days in Columbus. Not only have the Buckeyes ruled on the gridiron, their backers have also been winning at the college football odds window with eight winning tickets the past nine years, including the last six straight.
The Wolverines may have been looking forward to this one when they fell at Iowa last Saturday, 24-21. Michigan was the 6 point underdog, but beating the spread didn't make up for the third loss in four games for the Maize & Blue. Iowa's offense turned it over four times and the Hawkeyes trailed 21-7 at the half, but Devin Gardner and the Wolverines never could muster any offense to speak of, and the Wolverines are going up against another fine defense this week.
The cold weather that has gripped a good part of the Lower 48 this week will still be hanging around in Ann Arbor come Saturday. The forecast has the thermometer just a couple of notches above the freezing mark for the early afternoon, under cloudy skies that include a 20% chance of precipitation along with a 10-12 mph SSE wind.
I said it when Michigan faced Nebraska a few weeks ago, and I'll say it again now: Gardner simply doesn't impress me. That reason alone is enough for me to lay the two touchdowns and add Ohio State to our free college football picks.
My pick: Ohio State -14Season: 25-10 (+14.0); four picks pending