Expert College Football Picks: Michigan Wolverines at Ohio State Buckeyes
Michigan Wolverines at Ohio State Buckeyes, Saturday Nov. 24, Noon ET
I will be completely honest - just thinking about this game makes me want to throw up. I have been a Michigan fan for as long as I have been aware of sports, and it feels like all of that time and all of that emotional investment has been building towards this moment. A Michigan win will be validation that I have not wasted decades and decades of life. And I don't even want to think about a Michigan loss. Everything has come together for the Wolverines here. Their best team in a very long time, with a direct route to the playoff, intersects with the most vulnerable team we have seen in Columbus in the Urban Meyer era. If Michigan doesn't win this game then the program will be forced to reconsider everything - who they are, what they can be, the path to getting there, who should lead them. If they can't beat Ohio State now, then what they have been doing isn't good enough. This game matters for Michigan as much as a college football game can possibly matter. And it's not like it means nothing for the Buckeyes, either. Given his off-the-field issues and his health concerns, it is quite possible that a loss here could mark the last meaningful game Meyer coaches for this team. A solid loss for the Buckeyes could leave them with almost as many questions as it would leave Michigan.
These teams have matching 10-1 records, but that's only proof that a record doesn't reflect what a season has been like. Yet the winner of this game will win the Big Ten East, will be favored to win the conference title, and will be in the playoff mix - though Michigan's path to the final four is much easier. This game really matters, and the week leading up to it is going to continue to feel endless.
Michigan at Ohio State Betting Storylines
The marquee matchup here is Michigan's defense against Ohio State's offense. This is not the same Ohio State offense we have become used to because Dwayne Haskins is slightly less mobile than a chunk of cement. But it is still effective, ranking second nationally in total yards and fourth in passing yards. They don't run like they have in the past, but they are dangerous. But they are up against a Michigan defense that is tops nationally in yards allowed and in passing yards allowed. It's a truly ferocious defense. And it's a defense that has really risen to the occasion, playing their best against the best opponents they have faced. They have taken things personally this year on a so-called revenge tour, and they will be even more fired up for this one than usual. Ohio State's offense will face the biggest challenge they have faced all year by a wide margin.
It's the other matchup that is, in many ways, more interesting. Ohio State's defense has had real issues at times this year. They allowed a troubled Maryland team to score 51 last week. A lousy Nebraska team scored 31 on the Buckeyes a game after the Boilermakers dropped 49 in their stunning win. That is three really lousy defensive performances in the last four outings. Michigan's offense is the best it has been in a long while under the leadership of QB Shea Patterson, but it still has some real issues - especially in the red zone, where it has really struggled to turn opportunities into points. But they have rushed the ball really well, and Ohio State is vulnerable on the ground. Michigan certainly has the opportunity to do some damage here. But nothing comes easy in this matchup.
Michigan at Ohio State Odds and Betting Trends
The game opened with Michigan favored by 3.5 points on the road, and that has since climbed to four points. About 60 percent of all bets have been on Michigan, so the line movement is consistent with expectations. The total opened at 58.5 and has fallen to 56.5 in early action.
The Buckeyes are in an unfamiliar spot - they are an underdog after a streak of 51 straight games as a favorite. To be an underdog at all is rare ground, never mind to be a dog at home. They are just 1-6 ATS in their last seven games overall, though - all conference games. And they are 1-4 ATS in their last five in November. Michigan is 4-2 ATS in their last six games overall but just 1-5 ATS in their last six road games. The Wolverines are 4-1 ATS in the last five meetings between these teams - all as underdogs.
Michigan at Ohio State Predictions and Picks
I'm going with Michigan, obviously. But it's not just out of blind loyalty. We have previously come out on the right side the last three times we have previewed Michigan games, so the trend is right. And Michigan's defense is by far the strongest unit here. Michigan comes in playing much better and seem palpably more determined to come out on top. Betting a road favorite in this spot is nerve wracking, but Michigan in the play.
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