Originally written on isportsweb.com  |  Last updated 11/16/14

ANN ARBOR, MI - SEPTEMBER 05: Tate Forcier #5 of the Michigan Wolverines celebrates with Denard Robinson #16 after Robinson ran for a long first quarter touchdown against the Western Michigan Broncos on September 5, 2009 at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

The 16/17 ranked Michigan Wolverines (9-2, 5-2) will host Ohio State (6-5, 3-4) on Saturday at the Big House. The game will kickoff at noon and be televised on espn. What a difference a year makes. At this time last season, Michigan entered the Ohio State game on a freefall with little tangible hope of beating the Buckeyes. 12 months later the Wolverines are surging and Ohio State is freefalling. Michigan is the decided favorite this year while the Buckeyes are the ones left wondering who their coach will be next season.

Ohio State still has a strong defense, but their offense has been a disaster. They rank 108th in total offense and 118th in passing offense. There are only 120 teams in FBS and the Buckeyes passing attack is better than just two teams; Army and Navy. Dan Herron has been solid at running back with 556 yards in the 5 games since his return from suspension.

The Wolverines have dropped 7 straight games to OSU and despite their role as the favored home team; they won’t be taking anything for granted. “We have the same expectations in practice, in their film study, in their preparation,” Brady Hoke explained on Monday. “I may look at this different, but this is fun. Are you kidding me — our kids, this has got to be fun.”

Fitzgerald Toussaint and Denard Robinson

It seems that the only way Michigan will lose this week is if they self-destruct. That seems highly unlikely to happen considering the week-to-week improvement this team has made all season long. They are coming off their two best defensive performances (Illinois and Nebraska) and the offense has gone through some growing pains, but is much more balanced than it was to start the season.

The emergence of sophomore RB Fitzgerald Toussaint has provided the perfect compliment to Denard Robinson’s rushing ability. Both runners should eclipse the 1,000 yard barrier this season (Robinson enters the game with 993 yards, Toussaint with 891).

In amazingly short order, Hoke and his staff have returned the Wolverines to the Golden Age of Michigan Football. They have transformed a once hapless defense into a menacing, swarming group of confident and hard-hitting players. They have developed a featured running back who is a star in the making in Toussaint. They preserved their most talented player, Robinson, by cutting back on his carries and thus reducing the number of hits he absorbs. Through 11 games last year Robinson had 227 carries and had missed large portions of multiple games due to injury. Through 11 games this year he has 182 carries and has missed minimal time.

Ohio State has yet to play against a healthy Denard Robinson. Not only is Robinson healthy for The Game this year he is supported by a rising star at RB and backed by a stout defense.

Prediction: Back in August, I charted a course for Michigan to finish the season at 10-2. I thought they would lose to Michigan State and Nebraska. The Iowa loss set my prediction behind schedule, but last week’s convincing win over Nebraska has it back on track. Many thought I was simply being a homer when I projected that 10-2 record. I’ll admit I do look at things in a light most favorable to Michigan, but I also use known facts, logic, and common sense. 10-2 seemed like the best case scenario, but it definitely seemed possible. So here we are with Michigan one win away from reaching that mark and possibly earning a trip to a BCS Bowl game.

Michigan is determined and focused, while the Buckeyes are in a state of flux, trying to figure out whether or not Urban Meyer will be their next head coach. There is no uncertainty surrounding the Wolverines. They are playing at home, where they are 7-0 this year, and playing their best football in a long time. Michigan wins 35-10

You can follow me on Twitter @isportsRob


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