Ohio State (12-0, 8-0 B1G)
TTUN (8-5, 6-2 B1G)
We won, they lost. They were still celebrating their one game winning streak as Braxton Miller and Carlos Hyde steamrolled them on their way to completing a perfect season. Devin Gardner comes back to visit the Devin Gardner shaped impression in the Horseshoe turf in the exact spot where Zach Boren planted him with authority.
Brady Hoke thought he had the beginning of something special. A win over an interim head coach was just the thing he needed to proclaim “Michigan is back.” Because apparently Michigan had gone on vacation to Tibet or Kalamazoo. That was before Urban Meyer came to Columbus to rebalance the Force.
At this point in the season, Ohio State should be looking at 23-0, ready to go into Ann Arbor and make it to the B1G Championship Game for the first time. This is the game that everyone will be looking at to see if Miller has his “Heisman Moment,” and god-willing, he won’t disappoint. Miller should have the award wrapped up by this point, but a good to great showing in The Game should cement that trophy as the 8th in school history.
TTUN will be relying on the hands and feet of Gardner (unless he has injuries, to which TTUN QBs are prone) as well as the legs of Fitzgerald Toussaint after Vincent Smith left on a walkabout to find his helmet from the Outback Bowl. TTUN also looks to replace Roy Roundtree, while Ohio State is returning all of their skill position starters as well as bringing in more playmakers who, at this point in the season, should have found their stride.
Ohio State does replace a lot of starters on defense this season, but with 11 games under their belts, everything should be firing on all cylinders. The players will know their jobs, their assignments, and their specific Wolverine to destroy.
Meanwhile, TTUN is without All-Everything Linebacker Jake Ryan for the year and is without Craig Roh or Jordan Kovacs due to graduation. They did sign a heck of a recruiting class and if some of those guys can make an instant impact, they may make a difference in the game. Dymonte Thomas should fall right into the empty spot left by Kovacs, but he will still be a true freshman playing in his first Ohio State/Michigan game and should be tested early and often.
Thin, in shape, coaches always prevail over overweight ones. It’s science. It’s why Charlie Weis and Mark Mangino have been utter failures and men like Urban and Nick Saban have always enjoyed success. If Hoke wants to win against premier competition, he needs to hit Curves at least 3 times a week. Or get some clandestine sessions from Body By Marotti.
All fat jokes aside, Hoke embraces everything that The Games represents, which always makes for a better rivalry. His predecessor felt no emotional ties to the last Saturday in November, and it showed in his team’s performances on the field. His “Ohio” jabs are just the thing that the rivalry needs from a coach from TTUN. It doesn’t matter that he’ll only back it up once in maybe 10 years, it’s the thought that matters. Don’t get this misconstrued. There is no “new 10-year war” going on here. Bo and Woody were nearly equals. Urban Meyer is much better than Brady Hoke.
Meyer wins championships. Hoke never has. Meyer has two crystal balls to his name, Hoke has none. It really all comes down to having a premier coach to one that just came up from a Mid-Major to coach with the Big Boys.
It’s the last game of the regular season on the path to a National Championship, so that leads me to believe that Ohio State will be more than ready. But it’s in Ann Arbor, so there is that factor as well. The fetid atmosphere won’t keep the Buckeyes out of Indianapolis, but I’m calling a close one with Ohio State winning a 36-32 game.