The Rivals, Part VI: The Coming Storm

Last week saw the return of Ohio State’s high-powered offense, which produced 500 yards for the first time since week one. The defense remained stout, reining in Western Michigan’s passing game and holding the Broncos to just 12 points. Michigan held steady production-wise, and managed to not turn the ball over at all while their defense manhandled BYU stunning shut out that landed the Wolverines at #22 in the AP poll, the same spot BYU held going into the game. Both defenses now rank in the top 10 nationally in terms of points allowed.

The Big Ten season opens for both teams today, and so begins the journey to The Game. Despite a couple of lackluster games, Ohio State is still in the driver’s seat for the national championship. Michigan’s strong non-conference showing has added a new sense of excitement for the season-ending clash. Michigan State is the primary hurdle for each team on the road to that face-off, but both will get the Spartans at home.

Today, both Ohio State and Michigan head out on the road again after three straight home games, all wins. The Buckeyes take on the somehow-undefeated Indiana Hoosiers, and Michigan pays a visit to the floundering Maryland Terrapins, reeling from last week’s beatdown by West Virginia.

The Michigan/Maryland game has been moved from an 8:00 kickoff to noon to avoid complications from Hurricane Joaquin. This is a significant blow to Maryland, who could have certainly benefitted from the electric atmosphere of a night game. While a Terrapins win would have still been a long shot, it’s almost an impossibility now. The weather will barely even impact Michigan’s game plan, which has settled into about a 60-40 run/pass split, and Jim Harbaugh probably wouldn’t mind leaning even more heavily on his running backs against a Maryland team that ranks 101st nationally in rushing defense.

There shouldn’t be much rain in Bloomington on Saturday, but Urban Meyer would like to unleash a storm of deep throws on the Hoosier’s dismal pass defense (#127 out of 128). That this was a point of practice emphasis following a rash of underthrows last week is a happy coincidence, and one that should be of utmost concern to Indiana. But Ohio State must take the Hoosier attack seriously too: Indiana ranks 18th nationally in total offense, higher than any team the Silver Bullets have faced so far.

If Ohio State and Michigan continue to progress throughout the Big Ten slate, then that meeting at the end of November—the 112th between the two programs and the first between Urban Meyer and Jim Harbaugh—will be the renewal of a rivalry that hasn’t been truly competitive in nearly a decade.


  1. Seth Gould says

    That last comment is an overstatement. Wolverines have played Bucks pretty tight albeit on losing end. Excited Harbaugh is at the helm playing spoiler this year.

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