The date has been circled on the calendar every year.
After getting crushed by Michigan in Ann Arbor last November, Ohio State gets another crack at its archrival on Saturday when the Wolverines come to the Horseshoe.
“I’m excited,” quarterback CJ Stroud said. “We’ve been licking our wounds for 365 days. We’re hearing all the laughing, everything people have been saying.”
Not only did the 42-27 loss at Michigan cost the Buckeyes a shot at a Big Ten Championship and berth in the College Football Playoff, but it was also devastating for a program unaccustomed to the feeling of defeat in the rivalry. A decade had passed since their last loss to the Wolverines.
“Everybody took it a lot personal from the coaches to the players to the EQ guys,” defensive end Zach Harrison said.
Now their shot at Revenge comes this weekend.
Week 13: Ohio State (11-0) vs. Michigan (11-0)
Saturday, noon, FOX, 97.1 FM/1460 AM
With Ohio State at No. 2 and Michigan at No. 3 in this week’s Associated Press poll, it sets up a top-five Matchup between the teams for only the 12th time in the history of The Game and the first time since 2016.
Ohio State vs. Michigan point spread
The Buckeyes opened as eight-point favorites. It’s the fourth straight season that they have been favored over Michigan, including in 2020 before the game was canceled due to a COVID-19 Outbreak within the Wolverines’ program. The last time Ohio State was an underdog against Michigan was in 2018.
Michigan’s last game
Like the rest of the playoff contenders last weekend, Michigan got an upset scare, holding off Illinois in a 19-17 win. A 35-yard field goal by Jake Moody with nine seconds left put the Wolverines in front of the Illini. But the real scare came late in the first half when star running back Blake Corum went down with a knee injury, leaving his status up in the air for Saturday’s game.
Much like last season, the Wolverines are built to win at the line of scrimmage. They rank fourth in the Football Bowl Subdivision in Rush offense, gaining an average of 243.8 yards per game on the ground, and second in Rush defense, giving up only 79.6 yards per game. Illinois running back Chase Brown, the nation’s third-leading rusher, is the only back who has rushed for more than 100 yards against them this fall.
JJ McCarthy’s five-star pedigree, offering a certain level of talent, made it enticing for Jim Harbaugh to settle on him as the starting quarterback over Cade McNamara. But McCarthy also has limitations. He’s only completed 50% of his passes the last three weeks and is unlikely to take the shots down the field that stress a secondary. Over half the Big Ten starting quarterbacks have completed more passes of 20-plus yards than McCarthy.
Michigan’s player to watch
The face of Michigan’s pass rush is end Mike Morris, who has replaced Aiden Hutchinson as the star along the defensive line. His 7.5 sacks rank second in the Big Ten. But he was banged up against Nebraska and missed last weekend’s game against Illinois. It was clear the Wolverines missed him as they went without a sack for only the second game this season. They’ll need him against the Buckeyes.
The run-heavy approach by Michigan means it can chew clock, ranking third in the FBS in time of possession. For an average of 35 minutes per game, the Wolverines have their offense on the field. That ball control could do a lot to keep the Buckeyes’ offense off the field. Ohio State’s improved third-down defense will be tested.
Ohio State-Michigan series history
The Buckeyes’ loss last season ended an eight-game winning streak in the rivalry, part of a stretch of dominance that had seen them go 17-2 against Michigan since 2001. Ohio State has not lost consecutive games to the Wolverines since the end of the John Cooper era in 1999 and 2000.