The #3 Michigan Wolverines (11-0, 6-4-1, ATS, 3-8 O/U) collide with the #2 Ohio State Buckeyes (11-0, 5-5-1 ATS, 8-3 O/U) in a battle for the top spot in the Big Ten East on Saturday afternoon. The winner of this game will play in the Big Ten championship game.
The Wolverines escaped the upset with a home win against Illinois last week. The Buckeyes defeated Maryland to stay undefeated. Last year it was Michigan registering a dominating 42-27 home win against Ohio State. Michigan leads the all-time series 59-51-6.
Wolverines Beats Illinois to Remain Undefeated
The Michigan Wolverines enter the regular season finale with an undefeated record. Many of the wins this season have been by large margins. Six of their 10 Big Ten victories have been by double digits highlighted by a 41-17 win against Penn State. Last week’s bout was their closest game of the season. Michigan was labeled huge 17-point favorites in a narrow 19-17 home win against Illinois. The Wolverines have covered the spread in two of their three conference road games this season.
Michigan runs more than a majority of squads and J.J. McCarthy doesn’t light up the scoreboard as a result. The sophomore QB has reached the 300-passing yard mark once all season in the win against Indiana. McCarthy has amassed 1952 passing yards and a 14:2 TD-to-INT ratio.
Wolverines’ #1 RB Blake Corum injured his knee last week and is questionable. The junior RB is having a dominant season, collecting at least 100 yards in eight consecutive games, and has accumulated 1457 rushing yards on 5.9 yards per carry. If Corum does not play Donovan Edwards (471 yards) or C.J. Stokes (268 yards) will see plenty of action.
Michigan has one receiver with at least 500 yards in Ronnie Bell. The senior WR has made nine catches in his last three games and has logged 641 receiving yards. The Michigan offense has registered at least 30 points in all but three games and last week’s 19-point output was its lowest of the season.
The Wolverines stifling defense makes them a legit national championship contender. They have limited their opponent to 17 or fewer points in seven of their eight conference games and rank #1 in the fewest yards allowed per game. The unit allowed 326 total yards against Illinois last week. They rank fifth against the pass and second against the run. Michigan is scoring an average of 39.4 points, landing them ninth in the country. They are limiting foes to only 11.7 points, good for second in the FBS.
Buckeyes Remain Perfect in Win vs. Maryland
The Ohio State Buckeyes are looking to reach the Big Ten championship game after missing out on the big game last year. Ohio State has been projected as a favorite to go all the way since the beginning of the season and has not disappointed. The Buckeyes earned a win against Notre Dame in week one and recorded several blowout wins in Big Ten action including a 54-10 victory against Iowa. Last week, Ohio State was a 25-point favorite in a 43-30 road win at Maryland. The Buckeyes have covered the spread in three of four conference home games.
C.J. Stroud is a Heisman candidate. The junior QB has eclipsed 300 passing yards four times this season and has not tossed an interception in four straight games. Stroud has collected 2991 passing yards complemented by a dazzling 35:4 TD-to-INT ratio.
OSU has three capable running backs who are capable of doing big damage. Miyan Williams has rushed for over 100 yards in back-to-back games and leads the squad with 783 rushing yards on an average of 6.7 yards per carry while TreVeyon Henderson has amassed 571 yards. Marvin Harrison Jr. is an exciting player. The sophomore WR has made at least five receptions in all but one game and has registered a remarkable 1037 receiving yards. The Ohio State offense has consistently produced all season. The only game where they didn’t exploit the defense was a surprising 21-point output against Northwestern.
The Buckeyes' vaunted defense has been outstanding in a majority of games but has encountered some trouble on a few occasions this season. They squandered 31 against Penn State and allowed 402 total yards on 30 points against Maryland last week. The pass defense is marked 11th while the rush defense is 15th. Ohio State is posting an average of 46.5 points, ranking them second. They are holding foes to only 16.9 points, placing them 10th in the FBS.
Best Bets for this Game
Full-Game Side Bet
The winner of these undefeated squads earns a berth in the Big Ten championship game. These foes are very even in many categories and rank very similarly in EPA (expected points added) in all areas. The Michigan Wolverines are just as good as Ohio State and this spread is favorable in the Wolverines' favor. The Buckeyes' defense has shown a few cracks. They surrendered 482 total yards against Penn State and 402 yards against Maryland last week.
Furthermore, the Wolverines' defense has not shown any cracks. They have allowed the fewest total yards per game in the entire FBS and have held their foes to 17 or fewer points in 10 of their 11 games. Michigan features a stifling pass defense that is limiting opponents to 161 passing yards per game. They definitely have the ability to contain C.J. Stroud. The star QB has not been quite as accurate as usual recently, connecting on 60% or fewer of his passes in three straight games. I expect Wolverines' RB Blake Corum to have a big impact, assuming he plays. The RB is one of the best in the country and has propelled Michigan to an average of 243 rushing yards per game. No one has contained him.
Full-Game Total Pick
These are two of the best defensive teams in the entire FBS and I expect a defensive battle in what is essentially a playoff game. The Wolverines only attempt a pass in 38.51% of their total plays and will be running frequently. Michigan won’t have much success against a pass defense that ranks 2nd in EPA/game and their best chance to generate yards will be on the ground with Corum or Edwards.
In addition, this is definitely the best defense the Buckeyes have seen this season. The Wolverines limited Penn State to 17 points and have allowed an average of only 13.7 points in their three conference road games. Obviously, the Buckeyes have an elite QB in Stroud but only attempt a pass in 45.3% of their total plays. They continue to run frequently and the Wolverines' rush defense ranks 2nd in the country. The under is a convincing 8-3 in the Wolverines’ 11 games on the season.