Big Ten Rivalry Odds: (8) Ohio State Buckeyes at (10) Michigan Wolverines

Ezekiel Elliot criticized the playcalling last week but will be back at it after managing just 33 rushing yards last week
Ezekiel Elliot criticized the playcalling last week but will be back at it after managing just 33 rushing yards last week

(8) Ohio St- (10) Michigan
Spread: OSU -1
Total: 46.5

Betting odds c/o 5dimes

While Ohio State may have fallen out of BCS contention, its Big Ten title hopes are still very much intact. A win over the Michigan Wolverines will put them there, but either team will need a loss from Michigan State to have that happen. The Spartans taken on Penn State some three hours following the conclusion of this game, and the winner will be rooting heavily for MSU to register an ‘L’ against Penn State.

The Buckeyes are just one point favorites in this as they travel to Ann Arbor for the biggest rivalry game of the season for these respective programs. The betting total for the game is 46.5, and this could turn into a defensive slugfest that ends up going ‘under’ the total.

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Michigan won last week over Penn State, so the Nittany Lions themselves will be looking to prevent a two-game skid. The Spartans have not beat the Buckeyes since 2011, and have won just twice in the past 12 seasons, but this year has a different look with the Buckeyes not being quite the powerhouse and having suffered its first loss of the season after going undefeated last year.

The QB instabilities have played a role, but a win in this game would begin to salvage the season. It is not as though Ohio State will fail to find its way to a Bowl game, it is that they are the defending champs and will not reach the 4-team playoff to have another shot at a title.

Michigan HC Jim Harbaugh may not really realize what is at stake between these two programs, or maybe he is just failing to acknowledge it. Harbaugh said little of the coaching rivalry that exists between he and Meyer, and downplayed the whole matter by saying “he’s not going to be tackling anybody, I’m going to be over there standing on the sidelines blocking and tackling nobody (myself).”

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Meyer has turned the Buckeyes program around in much the same way that Harbaugh has with Michigan this season, so there is no underestimating the effect these two great coaches have had on their respective programs. Meyer is not surprised by the Wolverines turnaround, but most fans are. He said, “I think they have excellent players and they are well coached, I have always checked the recruiting…Whether they are always playing great or whatever, that is a different answer and obviously they are playing very well right now.”

Well enough to knock off the Buckeyes? Well enough to win the Big Ten? That all remains to be seen, and the fact that both teams are relying on MSU falling in its own vomit seems to really play no role in the approach to this game.

The Buckeyes have knocked off Michigan five of the past seven on the road, but its offense last week against Michigan State was ineffective, which is a rare statement to make about a team so loaded, especially at the QB position. The Wolverines rank No. 6 in scoring defense allowing just 14.9 points per game, and the offense has been similarly brilliant with 263.1 yards per game this season.

The Buckeyes finished with just five first downs last week and 132 yards of total offense. Ezekiel Elliot was disgusted with Meyer’s coaching and made it clear he will not be back next season for his senior year. Meyer said Elliot would face no disciplinary actions for making that known, and said “he’s one of my favorite players of all time…and we’re going to do our best to get ready for this week.”

Elliot had just 33 yards last week after an 11-game streak of 100 yards or more.

Michigan held Penn State to just 207 yards last week. The offense functioned well enough, and Jake Ruhdock threw for 256 yards and a pair of TDs as the team won its fourth straight after its heartbreaking loss to MSU. Rudock will be against OSU’s tough defense though which allows just 14.1 points per game and ranks No. 8 in total yardage allowed at just 298. Harbaugh gives Rudock a vote of confidence and believes in his toughness, and it will be needed to take the Buckeyes down to be sure.

Michigan is not at all intimidated and really has no reason to be, especially given the fact Vegas is expecting this to basically be a coin flip, favoring OSU by just a point. “Beating Ohio State is our mindset,” Harbaugh said. Michigan fans will be rabid and the Buckeyes are a resilient team on the road, having suffered its first loss on the road just last week in the Urban Meyer era.

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