For years, “The Game” was presented in a lack luster manner. Within recent history, more often than not the Buckeyes have been expected to handle the Wolverines regardless of The Game’s location. Even last season, Harbaugh’s squad closed as a two-touchdown home underdog while coming into The Game ranked #5 in the nation. Big home spreads have been a theme for the Buckeyes this season. We saw Ohio State close as a 17-point favorite hosting the Fighting Irish in Columbus during week zero. This season the story is being told far differently. Caesars Sportsbook currently has Ohio State favored by a touchdown; their smallest home spread this season.
This season, Michigan will not benefit from the homefield advantage that played a huge part in their victory over Ryan Day and the Buckeyes in 2021. While this Ohio State offense has proven to be one of the best in the country, on paper this is the closest that Michigan and Ohio State have ever been. The Buckeyes and the Wolverines wear #2 and #3 respectively in the College Football Playoff Rankings. However, the rankings aren’t the only place where Ohio State and Michigan top the nation. Heisman front runner CJ Stroud and his arsenal of weapons average 45.8 points per game, leading the nation. JJ McCarthy and crew are averaging a few points less at 42.2, coming in at #5 amongst FBS teams. This is where the matchup gets interesting; Michigan is a top 3 defense in the country, arguably #1 depending on which statistics you value most.
Michigan Defensive Rankings
Points Allowed per game - 3rd
Rushing Yards Allowed per game - 1st
Total Yards Allowed per game - 2nd
The big question coming into this game is as follows. Can Michigan’s defense subdue one of the most lethal offenses in the country? There might be one more question to ask; what’s the weather going to be like in Columbus on November 26th? Why could that be important? Think back to last seasons rendition of the The Game in Ann Arbor. It was a snow bowl that the 111,156 fans will never forget. Following the game, Ryan Day and his team made it known that the snow had something to do with offense being shut down. During a press conference over the winter, the Buckeyes Athletic Director, Gene Smith, made the following comments: “I want a clean environment. I don’t want a hard surface for the players,” and “I would prefer to have the indoor elements and have a clean field. If it was this year, I would want C.J. (Stroud) to have good weather. It’s just that simple”. Now last year’s snow isn’t the same thing as this year’s potential rain, but what if I told you that there’s a 60% chance of rain in Columbus during this season’s heated rivalry game? Does that make Michigan +7 sound interesting?