The Ohio State Michigan game is one of the nation’s biggest rivalry games, attracting huge television audiences and filling up sportsbooks around the country. It is often referred to as the game that decides the national champion, as the two teams are widely considered to be among the top five teams in all of college football. The game was first played in 1894, and is one of the longest-running rivalries in American sports. This year’s edition will be played on Saturday, November 10th, with Ohio State trying to avenge last year’s loss and become national champions once again.
How Are The Teams Stack Up?
The two schools are among the big favorites this year for the national title, largely owing to strong seasons from both coaching staffs and the overall talent of the squads. Last year’s game was an outlier in terms of its unpredictability. Despite the Buckeyes prevailing by a comfortable margin (52–16), the Wolverines nearly upset the defending champions. As a result, many experts are predicting a much tighter contest in 2019. Let’s take a look at the strength of the teams competing for the title this year:
With the retirement of quarterback J.T. Barrett, who won three straight national championships at Ohio State, the burden of carrying the team has fallen on the shoulders of senior quarterback Darryl Stonum. While Stonum has proven to be a capable replacement, he is not exactly “Tebow material.” As a result, it is fair to say that the team has a slightly different look this year. Gone are the studs along the offensive line and in their place are more nimble outside linebackers and an unproven receiving corps. Nevertheless, with a schedule that contains only one hard game (Alabama), the Buckeyes should be able to navigate their way to a 10–2 regular season and a third straight Big Ten title. In fact, they are widely considered to be the best team in the conference.
The Wolverines reloaded in a major way this year. Starting quarterback Wilker Cardona stepped in and led the team to an undefeated regular season en route to the title. The reigning national champion returns eight starters on offense and seven starters on defense. The biggest impact, however, came at the other end of the ball, as the team brought in five-star defensive end Devin Bush and four-star linebacker Mike Danna, a move that sparked a defensive resurgence in Ann Arbor. Last year’s disappointing performance fell heavily on the shoulders of the defense, and experts are predicting sharp improvements from the unit.
Although the loss of Barrett will be felt most acutely in the passing game, fans in Ohio should also feel confident about the defense’s ability to serve as the team’s next signal caller. Bush and Danna are sure to wreak havoc in the backfield for Cardona, who will look to exploit Michigan’s thin defensive backs for quick strikes from the pocket. While the offense is returning to form, the defense should take the cake this year, boasting one of the best if not the best defenses in the nation.
Game Prediction: Ohio State Will Keep Their National Title Hopes Alive
The Buckeyes are arguably the best team in the country, and with good reason. They boast superior talent everywhere, and this year should be no different. The only question is: Can they finally end the long title drought and bring home the hardware? After last year’s upset, people are a little gun shy about picking Ohio State, but with another deep run in the playoffs seemingly assured, they should feel confident making a pick.
Michigan will be a difficult opponent, but the talent disparity is too great. The Wolverines are a good team, but not good enough to challenge Ohio State. The game will be close, but in the end, the defending champs will keep their hopes of another undefeated season alive. Ohio State will take the opener before a slightly louder and more hostile crowd than usual.