“It's a highlight. It's a controversial play, and something that was a defining moment in our season. The play could've gone either way. It could have been a defining moment either way. The work that went in behind it on both sides of the ball, whether you're on their side or our side, whatever type of work you put into it -- that was a defining moment in the game.”
- Billy Price via Bill Landis, Cleveland.com
Everyone remembers last season’s edition of The Game. Ohio State and Michigan were both ranked in the top three in the country and played a close game wire-to-wire until overtime was forced - incredibly, the first overtime series history. And in double overtime, Ohio State would face a fourth-and-one from Michigan’s 16-yard line.
The rest is history.
J.T. Barrett would just edge over the first down marker, and after a close review, “The Spot” was, in fact, good. One play later, Curtis Samuel raced into the endzone to give the Buckeyes a walk-off win over Michigan.
That fourth down play helped define the 2016 season for Ohio State, with all the ups and downs the Buckeyes faced. The late-season loss to Penn State, and then the eventual win over Michigan helped push Urban Meyer’s team into the College Football Playoff. Now Ohio State is in a similar position and a spot in the Big Ten championship locked up.
Will the Buckeyes make some more memories in Ann Arbor?
“The Buckeyes have already clinched the East, but if they lose in Ann Arbor to rival Michigan on Saturday and then beat the Badgers to win the conference championship game, the Big Ten might be left out entirely.”
- Heather Dinich, ESPN
Heather Dinich of ESPN went through the dream and nightmare scenarios for each Power Five conference and the Big Ten’s scenarios are pretty clear-cut. The dream scenario would be for Wisconsin to win out the remaining schedule and be included in the top four for the College Football Playoff. That would mean defeating Minnesota and then Ohio State in the Big Ten championship game. The nightmare scenario has Ohio State losing to Michigan (nightmare indeed) and proceeding to the Big Ten championship game and upsetting an unbeaten Wisconsin team that is already on the fringe of the playoffs.
Of course, these two situations also don’t show another outcome - both Ohio State and Wisconsin win out to the Big Ten championship game and then the Buckeyes defeat the Badgers. They would still need some outside help, which is why this isn’t the dream scenario for the Big Ten, but Ohio State could certainly greatly improve their resume for the College Football Playoff.
“Michigan's best receivers this season have been tight ends. But when Ward is out covering a receiver, the guy he'll likely be assigned to most often is Peoples-Jones.”
- Tim Bielek, Cleveland.com
The Game is just days away and Tim Bielek looked at a key matchup for Saturday’s game: Ohio State cornerback Denzel Ward against Michigan wide receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones. The 6-foot-2 receiver provides plenty of headaches when it comes to mismatches with the small secondary that the Buckeyes have, but Ward could have the speed to make up for it as Peoples-Jones isn’t known for his burst. And to add to that, the Wolverines have struggled throwing the ball - especially to the wide outs. The best receivers on the team are tight ends, but Peoples-Jones is capable of making big plays as seen against Wisconsin and Air Force.
On the season, Peoples-Jones has only 16 catches for 219 yards but does have three touchdowns to his name. Meanwhile, Ward has been the Buckeyes’ best defensive back this year and has played well when it counts. He blocked a punt against Penn State to help spark a comeback, and also has an interception as well. This matchup could help define how well the game goes for either team and will be one to watch.
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