It’s all been leading to this. After both Ohio State and Michigan began the season 11-0, the teams will meet in Columbus this Saturday to see the No. 2-ranked Buckeyes host the three-seeded Wolverines in the 118th edition of The Game.
Ohio State will be looking to avenge last year’s loss, while Michigan – winners last year in the rivalry for the first time since 2011 – will look to develop a streak of its own against the Buckeyes.
Stakes are increased not only because of the team’s undefeated records, but because of the game’s implications. The winner secures a spot in Indianapolis in the Big Ten Championship Game on Dec. 3, and in all likelihood will have locked up a spot in the College Football Playoffs regardless of what happens in the conference title game.
OPPONENT: Michigan Wolverines (11-0, 8-0 Big Ten)
Michigan, like Ohio State, waltzes into the game with an unblemished record on the season. Also like Ohio State, it hasn’t been without some close calls.
The Wolverines’ most recent scare came on Saturday against the Illinois Fighting Illini, requiring a game-winning field goal to remain undefeated on the season with a 19-17 win. The Wolverines lost running back Blake Corum – a candidate for the Heisman Trophy, at least before the injury – late in the first half and he was kept out in the second half after attempting an additional carry.
If Corum does not return against Ohio State, it would be a massive blow for the Wolverines, whose offense has mostly run through Corum this year. He’s accounted for 1,457 rushing yards and 18 touchdowns while averaging 5.9 yards per attempt. Elsewhere on the offense, quarterback J.J. McCarthy has had an up-and-down season, completing 66.8 percent of passes for 1,952 yards.
Of course, much like last year, Michigan’s claim to fame is the defense. The Wolverines have the nation’s second-ranked scoring defense (11.7 points per game), the top-ranked total defense (241.3 yards per game), the No. 5 passing defense (161.7 yards per game) and No. 2 rushing defense (79.5 yards per game).
All this to say, there isn’t an easy weakness for Ohio State to exploit on Saturday. These teams are both ranked as highly as they are for a reason, and it has all the makings of a classic when The Game kicks off this Saturday.
GAME INFO: Ohio Stadium, 12 p.m., FOX
This is Ohio State’s regular-season finale and seventh home game of the season. It’s the sixth time the Buckeyes will kick off at noon and the fifth time in the last six games, all of those coming since the off week.
Both ESPN’s College GameDay and FOX’s Big Noon Kickoff will be on site in Columbus for The Game. This will be the third ranked matchup of the season for Ohio State. The Buckeyes defeated then-No. 5 Notre Dame – who has had an up-and-down season but is back in the rankings now – and took down No. 13 Penn State at Beaver Stadium.
SERIES HISTORY: This will be the 118th meeting between Ohio State and Michigan, with the Wolverines holding a 59-52-6 advantage in the series.
Ohio State brought an eight-game winning streak into last year’s contest before falling in Ann Arbor, Mich. A win would have resulted in the longest win streak for the Buckeyes in series history, and would have tied a nine-game win streak by the Wolverines from 1901-09.
While Michigan got the best of Ohio State last season, the Wolverines have not won in Columbus since a 38-26 victory on Nov. 18, 2000.
|Sept. 3||Notre Dame||Columbus, Ohio||W 21-10|
|Sept. 10||Arkansas State||Columbus, Ohio||W 45-12|
|Sept. 17||Toledo||Columbus, Ohio||W 77-21|
|Sept. 24||Wisconsin||Columbus, Ohio||W 52-21|
|Oct. 1||Rutgers||Columbus, Ohio||W 49-10|
|Oct. 8||Michigan State||East Lansing, Mich.||W 49-20|
|Oct. 22||Iowa||Columbus, Ohio||W, 54-10|
|Oct. 29||Penn State||State College, Pa.||W, 44-31|
|Nov. 5||Northwestern||Evanston, Ill.||W, 21-7|
|Nov. 12||Indiana||Columbus, Ohio||W, 56-14|
|Nov. 19||Maryland||College Park, Md.||W, 43-30|
|Nov. 26||Michigan||Columbus, Ohio||12 p.m., FOX|
|Dec. 3||Big Ten Championship||Indianapolis, Ind.||8 p.m. FOX|