Ohio State vs. Michigan NCAA Football Picks for Wolverines and Buckeyes
Ohio State Buckeyes vs. Michigan Wolverines, Saturday November 30, Noon ET
If you have read any of my stuff over the years, you know that I am a huge Michigan fan. I do nothing to hide it and probably couldn't even if I tried. You could easily extrapolate, then, that I have an intense, seething hatred for Ohio State. If you are coming here for raw objectivity, then, you are in the wrong place. That doesn't mean that this can't be valuable, though. As you can imagine, I am desperate for a Michigan win. Nothing would make me happier. I was at Michigan's brilliant 2003 win. It seemed easy - like it would just keep happening. And Ohio State has won every year but one since then and every year since 2011. It's freaking awful.
Being a Michigan fan means being resigned to heartbreak and losses when they matter. So, us fans have become realistic. Too realistic. We hope for the best but expect the worst. So, we are uniquely qualified to look at this matchup and see if the beloved Maize and Blue could finally have a chance.
Ohio State at Michigan Betting Storylines
A lot of what to expect about this Ohio State vs. Michigan game comes down, strangely, to Penn State. The Buckeyes were challenged more than they have all year by the Nittany Lions last week. They looked at least a little vulnerable for the first time all year. Michigan, meanwhile, lost to Penn State on October 19. But something changed with the team at halftime in that game. Up until that point, they had been truly awful all year, and it was easy to imagine the Buckeyes crushing the Wolverines even worse than they did last year. And last year was the kind of loss that caused lingering PTSD in fans. But from halftime in that game on, the team has finally figured things out. The defense has been fierce instead of tentative like it had been. The offense went from painful to always competent and often much more. And the team finally found some swagger - something that had been totally and utterly missing since that debacle in Columbus a year ago. This version of the team isn't perfect, but they are so, so much better than what they were. And one can at least pretend to justify the possibility of an upset without the need of crippling amounts of hallucinogens. I don't think anyone can rationally say that Michigan is the better team or even that the squads are equals. But an upset would be much less David and Goliath than it would have been six weeks ago.
Last year the Wolverines lost 62-39, and that score was flattering. But when you look back at that mess of a game, the one thing that stands out was that QB Shea Patterson wasn't the problem. He threw for three touchdowns, had just one pick, and didn't make a ton of mistakes. It wasn't perfect, and it obviously wasn't enough, but it was solid. Something to build on. And this year Patterson has made real strides - at least in the second half. It was a long time coming, but he is playing with real confidence, and you don't feel the urge to cover your eyes every time he takes a key snap. He completely destroyed Michigan State in Michigan's second biggest rivalry game, and you could see the fire in his eyes and his leadership throughout - something that we haven't always seen. Now, the Buckeyes are a dramatically better team, and they have three defensive players - Chase Young, Malik Harrison, and Jeff Okudah - who are as good as any in the country. But Patterson did fine in this game last year, and he is much better this year, so it is at least possible he can have a big game this year. And he sure needs to.
Ohio State at Michigan Odds and Betting Trends
The game opened with Ohio State favored by 8.5 points, and that has since jumped up to nine in early betting action. Three of every four bets have been on Ohio State, so the line movement is not surprising, and there could be more still to come. The total opened at 52 and has fallen steadily to as few as 49.
The Buckeyes are 8-2 ATS in their last 10 overall, and last 10 in the conference, and are 9-1 ATS in their last 10 against teams with winning records. They are, however, just 4-9 ATS in their last 13 November games. Michigan has covered the spread in their last five overall and their last four at home. The underdog is 5-1 ATS in the last six meetings of these teams. The Buckeyes are 5-2 ATS in their last seven games in Ann Arbor.
Ohio State at Michigan Predictions and Picks
This is the best team that Jim Harbaugh has had in Michigan - at least the version of the team we have seen in the last month. His problem, though, is that this is also the best Ohio State team in that time. By quite a bit. The Wolverines will fight, and they will keep it interesting. But they are in it tough. My heart wants what it wants, but my head knows what it is what. I don't see a clear choice to bet when it comes to the spread. On the total, though, I like the over. We'll make a rare total pick, then, and leave the spread to others.
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