It’s hard to believe, but OSU/UM week is already upon us. I can’t remember a season that seemed to fly by so quickly. It seems like just yesterday that OSU started the season at number one. It also seems like just yesterday that UM had its annual bowl loss. Now, our lil’ rival is all growed up, and the clown cars are being gassed up for Friday’s trip to Columbus.
Of course, the best news for OSU fans this year is that Lloyd managed to cobble enough wins together to keep his job for the foreseeable future. This ensures that Buckeye fans will continue to benefit from Tressel’s 80%+ victory percentage against the village idiots from Ann Arbor.
But even though we know UM is nothing more than one long expectoration, history dictates that, on occasion, those children-of-siblings from that state up north find a way to eke out victories against their superior foes to the south. With that in mind, we’d be remiss if we didn’t honestly consider every advantage — tangible or otherwise — that the grooming monkeys from Michigan might have over OSU this Saturday.
Not that we toot our own horn here at MotSaG, but to refresh your memories, it was us who predicted on August 15th:
[We] believe that this is the season when we really find out who coach Carr is… Our personal prediction is that UM “returns to form” this year. We wonder what state of chaos the national title picture would be in if UM and OSU met on November 18th, both undefeated…
Amazingly, that’s precisely what’s going to happen.
Later this week we’ll discuss why OSU will beat UM; but for today, let’s drink the Kool-Aid and list some reasons:
Why OSU will Not beat UM
UM will be healthy, with Ecker and Manningham back (who were not playing during UM’s sloppy mid-season games). The fact that Ecker and Manningham have been out (1) gives OSU less film to work with regarding the plays designed for those two players, and (2) is advantageous to UM because Arrington and Breaston have become much better in the meantime. UM will be entering the game with more depth & experience at receiver than they’ve had all year.
Conversely, OSU is as banged up as it has been all year. For the past few weeks, Sweatervest has been juggling the offensive line to account for the injuries to one player or another. Also, Smith has been battling a hand injury, apparently (see below for more on the subject).
UM’s front four will probably stone any iso play. Rushing yards will have to depend on the speed of the OSU backs going around the end, something that’s happened here and there, but not consistently. Beanie’s style of play will not be as successful against the Blue Wall, so it’s not likely he’ll have a good game. That leaves Pittman and Smith to carry a bigger rushing load than usual, or more time will have to be given to the underachieving, but speedy, Maurice Wells. Aside from that, Tressel will have to depend on a lot of screens… and even though UM is horrid at defending them, relying on them too much can be dangerous. (Remember OSU’s loss to UM in 1997 was largely due to a bunch of poorly executed screen plays… UM ate those plays for breakfast that day.)
OSU’s two-back rushing option plays probably won’t be successful (see above). Expect to see the three-back or two-back/one-WR option in its place. Sending enough players downfield to make a toss threat leaves fewer in the backfield for protection during the sweep, however.
Statistically, a UM victory is long overdue. The teams are 50/50 over the past 60 years… and Carr is on the short end of a 20/80 ratio against Tressel.
UM is playing better away from home this year than in the Big House.
Carr’s usual chokie-ness has been mitigated a bit by the new coaching staff.
UM’s seniors only have one victory over OSU, and that was at home in 2003, when most were freshmen and not even playing as backups. They’ve never beaten OSU as starters, and they’ve never won in the ‘Shoe. And after losing to the Bucks in the final minute of the game last year, this year’s matchup carries an extra revenge factor for the UM players.
OSU’s young defense, having performed above expectations all year, will still face a pressure/environment they haven’t seen before, one that even very experienced veterans find hard to deal with.
Big Ten officiating. OSU’s opponents are the least penalized in the Big Ten. This is not opinion, but fact. This doesn’t mean that OSU commits more penalties, it means that when OSU plays another team, the other team “magically” stops committing the penalties it’s been charged with all season long. It’s unfair, but for some reason Big Ten officials tend to ignore offenses committed by OSU’s opponents. If this year was the only aberration, so be it… after all, someone has to be last. But this has been the case year after year. So, clearly, opponents of OSU will always have an advantage with the officiating. What does this mean for the game? UM will probably be allowed to hold the OSU linemen all day long.
If the game comes down to FGs.
Troy Smith’s thumb. (I don’t care what the “official” line is about his throwing hand being fine. Troy hasn’t been able to throw the deep ball for three weeks now, the same number of weeks he’s had his thumb and wrist taped. He’s underthrowing every deep ball, forcing Ginn to slow down to get under it, effectively removing the weapon that torched OSU’s opponents for the first half of the season.)
Troy Smith’s feet. Smith’s mobility has been the bane of UM’s defense for the past two years. This year, however, Tressel has reigned in Smith’s scrambling and made him more of a pocket QB. Of course it’s likely that his running & throwing skills are still there, but whether or not Tressel turns him loose is unknown at this point.
If bad weather occurs.
Okay, you’ve seen why OSU will lose to Michigan. Now read why OSU will BEAT Michigan.
And trust me, they will beat them.