TTUN’s first true test of the season came this past Saturday at Penn State at its whiteout game. The Wolverines may have pulled out the win, but they didn’t look the greatest while doing so. Meanwhile, the Buckeyes looked absolutely dominant against Michigan State. This bodes very well in preparation for The Game in just two weeks.
Michigan relied almost entirely on its run game in order to take down the Nittany Lions. J.J. McCarthy went 7-of-8 and only threw for 60 yards. 60! Meanwhile, Blake Corum rushed for 145 yards on 26 carries, and Donovan Edwards added another 52 yards on 10 carries. At one point in the game, they ran the ball 32 straight times.
It is highly unlikely that the Wolverines will be able to do that against Ohio State, or that they will try to do so. They can, but they definitely won’t experience the same success as they did against Penn State — at least I would hope. Jim Knowles has gotten this defense into shape, and that includes the run defense.
The Buckeyes held six different opponents under 100 yards rushing this season, including holding Penn State to under 50 yards on the ground, while allowing just three rushing scores. However, they did allow Rutgers’ Kyle Monangai to rush for 159 yards against them, but look... the Bucks still won. Corum may not be as efficient as he was a season ago, but he has still averaged 5.2 yards per carry with 18 rushing touchdowns and will provide another stiff test for the Ohio State run defense.
The good news for Ohio State is that they looked to find a bit of a groove on offense last time out. Marvin Harrison Jr. and Kyle McCord looked phenomenal Saturday against Michigan State. I realize it was against the Spartans, which doesn’t mean much, but it definitely was comforting to see how capable of greatness that duo is. We all knew this about Marv, but to see McCord have such a strong performance was a confidence booster to both fans and him.
Now, Michigan does currently have the top overall defense in the nation. Drew Allar and the Nittany Lions still managed to put up two touchdowns, scoring 15 points against the Wolverines compared to 12 against Ohio State. Both teams finished their games allowing nearly identical yardage to Penn State, with Michigan giving up 238 total yards and Ohio State giving up 240. The Buckeyes, however, allowed just one touchdown, which came in the final minutes with the game already in hand.
Ohio State’s offense has a much higher ceiling than Michigan’s when fully healthy, especially considering they can lay claim to the best wide receiver in all of college football. Assuming TreVeyon Henderson, Harrison Jr., Emeka Egbuka, and Cade Stover all play, Michigan will certainly have their hands full. Penn State was the best offense they have played all year — which isn’t saying much — and they gave up 15 points, so it’s not impossible to think the Buckeyes can have success if they execute their game plan.
So, my main takeaway from the Michigan/Penn State game? Michigan is beatable, especially against this Ohio State team. I don’t put a ton of stock in the fact that Michigan has the No. 1 overall defense because they haven’t played really any good offenses besides Penn State. Are they talented? Of course. A bit overrated? Definite possibility.
Meanwhile, if the Buckeyes have a game like they did against MSU this Saturday against Minnesota, I think they will be peaking at just the right time as they head to Ann Arbor. Only two more weeks, my friends!