Originally posted on The Sports Bank  |  Last updated 11/22/11

It’s rivalry week in college football, and to quote Bugs Bunny “of course you know, this means war.” Only one of these rivalry games can truly claim an actual war in the history of the geographic region it covers.

That’s the Michigan Wolverines vs. the Ohio State Buckeyes, or “THE GAME,” as it’s called.

(Well, maybe two rivalries can claim actual battles: also Kansas-Mizzou, as they had the abolitionist vs. slave state skirmishes known as “Bleeding Kansas,” in the 1850s.)

What a difference a year makes, OSU DESTROYED Michigan last year, but the Wolverines are looking like big favorites this year. UM can knock the Bucks down the bowl ladder with a win, while Ohio St. can keep the Wolverines out of a BcS bowl. Yes, it sounds crazy given how terrible the Big Ten has been this year, but Michigan, and only Michigan can be the Big Ten’s at-large bid if they finish 10-2.

You know, it’s all politics, and only Michigan has the cachet to get to the Sugar Bowl if they win this one.

Michigan (9-2, 6-2) synopsis:

Denard Robinson has regressed as a passer this season, especially if you look at the two games versus Northwestern and Notre Dame where he actually did make plays. Those plays were inaccurate jump balls bailed out by his receivers. But he’s still a good “playmaker” as he was named Big Ten co-player of the week.

He accounted for four touchdowns and more than 260 yards of total offense in Michigan’s win over nationally ranked Nebraska on Saturday. Denard threw for 180 yards and two touchdowns, moving him into a seventh-place tie in school history with former quarterback Tom Brady with 35 career touchdowns passes.

Rushing for 83 yards and two scores, gave him 33 career rushing touchdowns to move into sixth place in program history

Fitzgerald Toussaint is developing into a stellar starting tailback now. F. Scott Fitzgerald said “Action is Character.” Fitzgerald becoming a “feature back,” or “work horse back” has defined his character this season.

He now has 891 yards rushing this season. Coolest thing about this team is they have both a Fitzgerald and a Hemingway among their offensive skill position players.

“Play Michigan football,” be a “Michigan Defense;” those are common catch-phrases within the team.

After allowing 35.2 points per game in 2010, Michigan’s defense is allowing 15.6 points per game through 11 games in 2011, ranking 2nd in the Big Ten and 6th in the nation in scoring defense. Hard to believe this is just one year after Michigan was ranked near the bottom in almost all relevant defensive categories among all FBS teams. What a difference a change in Gregs makes! Mattison is has been a total 180 from Robinson as a defensive coordinator.

tOSU (6-5, 3-4) synopsis:
Ohio State has won the last six meetings with Michigan and 9 of the last 10 overall. Of course, this year their offense moves slower than Mark Mangino’s metabolism. (Hey hey! Remember to tip your bartenders. Thanks, I’ll be in Ann Arbor all week).

The best part of this rivalry may have been the game notes email from the SID. It said: “here’s the info from our friends up north.” Because everyone affiliated with tOSU only refers to UM as “that school up north.” But when even the most PR-friendly of professionals do this, you know the rivalry is serious.

linebacker Ryan Shazier has been named the Big Ten Conference freshman of the week. The league announced the honor Monday based on Shazier’s personal-best 15-tackle performance Saturday against Penn State.

Shazier, making his first collegiate start, had a game-high seven solo tackles to go along with eight assists. The 15 tackles represents the most by a Buckeye since linebacker Ross Homan recorded 15 in 2009 vs. Wisconsin. The last Buckeye to top 15 tackles was linebacker James Laurinaitis; he had 17 in a 2007 game vs. the Badgers

In the loss to PSU, OSU QB Braxton Miller notched 188 total yards on 18 rushes for 105 yards and one touchdown, while throwing a very ugly 7-of-17 for 83 yards and one touchdown. The 105 rushing yards matched his career high, first set Nov. 5 vs. the Indiana Hoosiers.

Prediction to be taken with a grain of salt (actually make that a whole truckload of salt)

Mich 21,  OSU 7 (pick record 36-19)

Congratulations to the Michigan Wolverines, as we conclude another regular season of BHGP, you’ve been our “most featured team!” You made the cut 7 times this season!

Today, this rivalry is civil (no more militia warfare like in 1835-6) as the two schools collaborate on numerous initiatives, including organ donation drives. There’s a mutual respect; because the two men who built up this bloodfeud, Woody Hayes and Bo Schembechler, are essentially soul-mates underneath it all. No one else understood each other like they did, despite always being at each others’ throats.

Ever play the old Nintendo video game Zelda II: the Adventure of Link? Remember, conquering the game entailed defeating your shadow at the end. It’s kind of like that.

Ohio State is reeling right now, and don’t look very good. Don’t expect that to change this week. Emotion can only carry you so far.

Paul M. Banks is CEO of The Sports Bank.net, a Google News site generating millions of unique visitors. He’s also a regular contributor to Chicago Now, Walter Football, Yardbarker, and Fox Sports.

A Fulbright scholar and MBA, Banks has appeared on live radio all over the world; he’s also a member of the FWAA, USBWA and SPJ. The President of the United States follows him on Twitter (@Paul_M_BanksTSB) You should too.

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