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Ohio State will have to deal with the best Michigan team in years

The revenge tour the Wolverines have adopted has its sights set on the Buckeyes.

NCAA Football: Ohio State at Maryland Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

“It’s not who’s favored and who is not. I didn’t know that. And I don’t imagine our team really does, I guess. If they are (aware), then they’re looking at the wrong stuff. They ought to be working on how to win an individual battle against a good team.”

- Urban Meyer via Doug Lesmerises,

It’s well known that when it comes to The Game, records and recent play get thrown out the window. That doesn’t change the fact that Ohio State is getting ready to host the best Michigan team that Columbus has seen in years. The Wolverines enter the game in the top four in the country and are actually favored to win against Urban Meyer’s Buckeyes. Ohio State meanwhile, has stumbled their way into a 10-1 record and have looked vulnerable since their win over Penn State. The defense has been historically bad for a program of this caliber, and the offense has had trouble at times staying consistent.

Michigan, on the other hand, started off the season slow with an early loss to another top four team (Notre Dame) and has since rattled off 10 consecutive wins. The Wolverines’ defense has been one of the best in the country and their offense led by quarterback Shea Patterson has seemingly improved every week they play. All signs point to a Michigan victory, but it’s never that easy. The Buckeyes will have to be at their best as another shot at a Big Ten championship berth awaits the winner.

“This year’s contest between a pair of 10-1 teams feels, for several reasons, destined to produce an inflection point, especially for the two high-powered coaches who have been tasked with returning their annual rivalry to its most heated glory days.”

- Dan Murphy, ESPN

There’s never a time where the Ohio State-Michigan game isn’t important, but after the past several encounters, it might mean even more this season. Not only is there a spot in the Big Ten championship on the line, but it could alter the future of the programs. Jim Harbaugh is 0-4 against the Buckeyes as the head coach of the Wolverines, meanwhile Urban Meyer has yet to take a loss in The Game. There have already been classics, despite Ohio State’s recent dominance in the rivalry, including in 2016 where the Buckeyes came away with a double overtime win.

But with Meyer’s future swirling with rumors and Harbaugh finally seeming to get his team to an elite status, this game could have a larger impact outside of the season and more so into the future of these two programs.

“I think all four of them in practice have been kind of what we thought in terms of their productivity and how capable we thought they could be. Especially the two guards (Muhammad and Washington) because that’s where we had less depth. They were going to be forced into the issue earlier than the other two.”

- Chris Holtmann via Stephen Means,

Ohio State basketball is picking up right where it left off last season under Chris Holtmann. The Buckeyes are 4-0 after two big wins over Cincinnati and Creighton, and are now already ranked No. 23 in the AP Top 25. A large reason for that is the play of several freshmen, including Jaedon LeDee, Luther Muhammad, and Duane Washington Jr. Muhammad has had perhaps the biggest impact thus far, starting every game for the Buckeyes and averaging nearly 10 points a game and defending at a high level.

Kaleb Wesson has also been tremendous for Ohio State and is helping both on and off the court for the younger players. In all, this has been a promising start to the season in Holtmann’s second year. And with the young guys playing well early on, it’s easy to see why there’s excitement building in Columbus around this team.