Historic Rivarly Renewed
Columbus, OH - Despite struggling offensively, Ohio State has the chance to win a share of a fourth consecutive Big Ten title and earn an automatic BCS berth.
The Buckeyes also have a strong shot at winning five in a row over rival Michigan for the first time in school history.
Oddsmakers from Sportsbook.com have made Ohio State –20.5 point spread favorites (View College Football odds) for Saturday’s game (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 68% of bets for this game have been placed on Ohio State –20.5 (View College Football bet percentages).
Sitting in a three-way tie for first place in the conference, No. 10 Ohio State needs a victory over the struggling Wolverines and a Michigan State upset of Penn State on Saturday to reach its fifth BCS game in the last six years - with the Rose Bowl the likely destination.
Ohio State (9-2, 6-1) ranks 84th nationally in total offense (332.7 yards per game), and the Buckeyes are 107th out of 119 Football Bowl Subdivision teams in passing (144.8). Facing Michigan (3-8, 2-5) could help Ohio State solve those problems.
The Wolverines have the eighth-ranked defense in the Big Ten (362.5) and are giving up nearly 28 points per game.
Ohio State also comes into this game after consecutive strong offensive showings. The Buckeyes had 441 yards in a 45-10 win at Northwestern on Nov. 8 and finished with 354 - including a season-high 305 rushing - in last week's 30-20 victory against Illinois.
Freshman quarterback Terrelle Pryor threw for just 49 yards - his fewest since taking over as the starter in late September - but ran for a career-high 110 yards on 13 carries in last week's cold and windy game.
Chris "Beanie" Wells also had his third 100-yard performance in the past four games with 143 yards on 24 attempts. Last season, the Wolverines held the Buckeyes to 50 yards through the air, but Wells rushed for 222 yards and two touchdowns in a 14-3 victory.
In Ohio State's previous home meeting with Michigan in 2006, the then freshman had a 52-yard touchdown run to help the top-ranked Buckeyes hold off the No. 2 Wolverines 42-39. Wells needs 43 yards for a second straight 1,000-yard season.
"I think Beanie brings energy to our offense," said Ohio State coach Jim Tressel, who is 6-1 against Michigan.
The Wolverines enter Saturday's game with six losses in their last seven contests, including a 21-14 defeat at home last week to Northwestern that clinched the first eight-loss season in school history.
To make matters worse, Michigan may not have starting quarterback Steven Threet or leading rusher Sam McGuffie available Saturday. Wolverines coach Rich Rodriguez said Threet, who has a shoulder injury, and McGuffie, who had a death in the family, are doubtful to play.
Nick Sheridan will likely start in Threet's place. He's appeared in seven games, including last week's loss when he went 8-for-29 for 61 yards as Michigan finished with a season-low 83 passing yards.
Brandon Minor will get the majority of carries if McGuffie can't go. He has run for 466 yards this year - 20 fewer than McGuffie - but has eight rushing touchdowns compared to three for McGuffie.
Heading into the final game of Rodriguez's first year, the Wolverines are 105th nationally in total offense and last in the Big Ten with less than 300 yards per game. Last season, Michigan finished 10th in the conference with 385.1 yards a contest.
Now, the Wolverines will face the nation's 13th-ranked defense in the Buckeyes, who have given up 286.6 yards per game.
"They're a very talented team. You don't see them out of place. They play hard," Rodriguez said. "We're going to have to really execute."
Despite four straight losses, Michigan still leads the series 57-41-6.
Top Betting Trends:
All games in this series since 1992
OHIO ST is 9-7 against the spread versus MICHIGAN since 1992
OHIO ST is 8-7 straight up against MICHIGAN since 1992
8 of 16 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL since 1992
Games over the last 3 seasons
OHIO ST is 1-1 against the spread versus MICHIGAN over the last 3 seasons
OHIO ST is 2-0 straight up against MICHIGAN over the last 3 seasons
1 of 2 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons
All games played at OHIO ST since 1992
OHIO ST is 5-3 against the spread versus MICHIGAN since 1992
OHIO ST is 5-2 straight up against MICHIGAN since 1992
4 of 8 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL since 1992
Games played at OHIO ST over the last 3 seasons.
MICHIGAN is 1-0 against the spread versus OHIO ST over the last 3 seasons
OHIO ST is 1-0 straight up against MICHIGAN over the last 3 seasons
1 of 1 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons
Key Player Injuries
[QB] Steven Threet expected to miss - Concussion - 11/05/08
[QB] Nick Sheridan expected to start - None - 11/05/08
[RB] Carlos Brown missed last game, downgraded to doubtful - Foot - 11/06/
[RB] Sam McGuffie missed last game, upgraded to probable. - Concussion - 1
[WR] Junior Hemingway is out indefinitely - Mononucleosis - 10/02/08
[OL] Elliot Mealer is expected to miss entire season - Shoulder - 08/24/08
[OG] Cory Zirble is expected to miss the rest of the season. - Knee - 08/2
[DB] Brandon Smith will likely redshirt - Appendix - 09/21/08
[S] Mike Williams missed last game, upgraded to probable. - Concussion - 1
[LB] Mike Leach missed last game, "?". - Ankle - 11/01/08
[WR] Terrence Robinson out indefintely - Knee - 10/07/08
[WR] Ray Small is out indefinitely. - Suspension - 11/06/08
[OG] Ben Person is expected to miss. - Leg - 11/04/08
[OL] Mike Adams expected to miss the rest of the season - Ankle - 10/16/08
[OL] J.B. Shugarts expected to miss the rest of the season - Shoulder - 10
[DE] Lawrence Wilson expected to miss the rest of the season - Knee - 10/1
[CB] Andre Amos expected to miss the rest of the season. - Knee - 10/01/08
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Posted: 11/18/08 8:46 AM ET