Originally posted on Crystal Ball Run  |  Last updated 11/21/12
No. 19 Michigan at Ohio State Saturday, 12:00 p.m., ABC Line: Ohio State -3.5 The Big Game may not be quite up to the magnitude of 2006's historic No. 1 vs. No. 2, but any time Michigan and Ohio State get together it is worth paying attention to. This year's edition of the storied Big Ten rivalry brings a unique twist to the series, with Ohio State looking to cap an undefeated season with no chance of playing for a Big Ten championship or in a bowl game. Michigan would love to hand their rivals the first loss of the season, but the Wolverines could also be playing for a spot in the Big Ten Championship Game, next week in Indianapolis against Wisconsin, if things work out in their favor Friday. If Nebraska should happen to slip up at Iowa Friday, a Michigan win would send the Wolverines to the Big Ten championship game. To do so against the undefeated Buckeyes would make it all that much sweeter.   For Michigan to win: Michigan's offense needs to be in sync early with so many variables going on. With no Fitzgerald Toussaint at running back it is likely Brady Hoke will call on Robinson to handle some running duties with Devin Gardner again leading the offense at quarterback, and sophomore running back Thomas Rawls could be given some handoffs as well. The Wolverines have generally been slow to start in terms of scoring this season, averaging just 4.7 points per first quarter this season (88th in the nation). For Ohio State to win: Braxton Miller will lead the Buckeyes, but try to make sure he doesn't have to be Superman in the process. Don't get me wrong, Miller is more than capable of putting on the red cape if and when needed, but Ohio State would be in better shape if they can get running back Carlos Hyde in rhythm and receivers Corey Brown and Devin Smith are mixing it up against Michigan's Big Ten leading pass defense. The big key in this game might be the special teams, which appears to be a clear advantage for the Buckeyes. Michigan's special teams defense ranks 115th in the nation in opponent field goals per game. The Wolverines have allowed 21 touchdowns this season, second fewest in the Big Ten (five were allowed to Alabama in week one), which means teams are having to settle for field goals more often. Ohio State has attempted just six field goals this season, converting on four. The Buckeyes also lead the Big Ten in punt return touchdowns, with three. Michigan has punted just 37 times this season, fewest in the Big Ten, so opportunities to change the momentum of the game could be rare for the Buckeyes. Taking advantage of any opportunity presented could be critical. Key Player, Michigan: We're going to keep this one simple. It is Denard Robinson for Michigan. Robinson is the leading passer and rusher for Michigan and last week Brady Hoke showed a few new wrinkles by using Robinson's legs in a variety of ways not just restricted to under center. Robinson started the game at running back, with Devin Gardner leading the offense at quarterback (quite successfully as well). Robinson led the ground game with 98 rushing yards and even caught a pair of passes for 24 yards. If nothing else, it gives Luke Fickell something to think about this week in game-planning the defensive schemes. Robinson was not going to win this game with his passing in all likelihood, but being able to have him add some versatility to the Michigan offense, if used properly, could make for an interesting match-up against a defense that has at times shown to be vulnerable (although lately Ohio State's defense has been playing well) Key Player: Ohio State: This is the Braxton Miller show for a reason. He is everything Denard Robinson has been for Michigan, but better. He has more passing yards, a higher completion percentage, more touchdowns and fewer interceptions and he has just as much of a chance to break loose on a big run as Robinson. Miller may still have some room to grow as a passer, as most sophomores will, which makes next season look a little extra scary when you start to look at Ohio State in 2013. This being the final game of the season for the Buckeyes though, we should expect to see a solid performance from Ohio State's quarterback. Miller will be facing the top pass defense in the Big Ten, with Michigan holding opponents to 1,673 passing yards and just 11 touchdowns, but the Wolverines have just seven interceptions this year, second fewest in the conference. Key Stat: Michigan has not won a game in The horseshoe since 2000, and the Wolverines have won in Columbus just three times dating back to 1990. In their last two trips to Columbus, Michigan has been outscored by a combined 79-14. And you wonder why Ohio State fans would have supported an extended tenure of Rich Rodriguez.   Kevin McGuire is the national college football writer for Examiner.com and host of the No 2-Minute Warning podcast. Follow him on Twitter, Google+and Facebook. Follow Crystal Ball Run on Twitter and Facebook.
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Dallas Cowboys' team employee bus involved in fatal crash

Aldon Smith posts video under a pseudonym of a blunt on Periscope

WATCH: Cam Newton get blocked by a girl playing volleyball

Russia avoids complete ban from Rio Olympics by the IOC

Report: Padres trying to move Andrew Cashner, Derek Norris


Baseball's top prospect called up to majors by Astros

Report: Braves 'aggressively' shopping Francoeur, Aybar

Report: Hue Jackson designing plays for Terrelle Pryor

Report: Darnell Dockett expected to announce retirement

Report: Yankees have not discussed releasing A-Rod

Report: D-Backs making Shelby Miller available via trade

Cristiano Ronaldo spars with Conor McGregor in gym

Adam Silver is the new standard-bearer for league commisioners

Iowa football player held at gunpoint by police while playing Pokemon Go

Eight most significant injuries going into NFL training camp

Man. U players banned from playing 'Pokemon Go?'

Ken Griffey Jr. put on backwards hat during HOF speech

Mike Piazza honors 9/11 victims during Hall of Fame speech

Jeremy Lin hints he is racially profiled by arena employees

Why did Rio mayor offer to put kangaroo in Olympic village?

Joe Maddon wastes no time cracking Chris Sale joke

Report: Lamar Odom walked out on family intervention

One Gotta Go: Do NBA players really love NBA2K?

College Football News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

One Gotta Go: Do NBA players really love NBA2K?

Effect of ban on Russia could span beyond the Olympic Games

One Gotta Go: NBA players hate Facebook too

QUIZ: Name every city to host the NBA All-Star Game

One Gotta Go: NBA players settle the fast food beef

One Gotta Go: NBA players make tough choices on their favorite rappers

One Gotta Go: NBA Summer League is not about that Game of Thrones life

The top NHL free agents available as offseason winds down

WATCH: NBA jersey sponsors that need to happen

Expansion draft playing heavy hand in the current NHL offseason

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Follow Yardbarker