There are few college football rivalries as long-lived or exciting as U of Michigan versus Ohio State. Starting in 1897, this rivalry has been intense and often caused some fantastic football games. However, it has been relatively one-sided in the last 20 years, with Ohio State winning 18 of their games since 2001. Will this year be any different, or will Michigan repeat their surprising upset of 2021?
The Case for Michigan
Once the top football program in the nation for nearly a century, the University of Michigan has had many ups and downs over the last several years. Ever since their surprising loss to Appalachian State in 2007, the Wolverines have been up and down. Their years under otherwise successful coach Rich Rod were very poor and Brady Hoke did little to improve their program during its fallow years.
However, coach Jim Harbaugh has turned the team around quickly and is consistently getting Michigan in the top 10. For the last two years, they’ve consistently been in the top five and have been blowing out their early opponents. The fact that they beat Ohio State last year also shows that the team has some great chemistry and is looking to build on that success against their much-hated opponent.
Unlike Ohio State, Michigan also has a coach who’s been with the program for several years. While The Buckeye’s Ryan Day has done a fine job with the team in his four years, Harbaugh has been with the Wolverines longer. The Buckeyes are also coming off something of an identity crisis after coach Urban Meyer left the team and experienced embarrassment in the NFL as one of the shortest-tenured coaches of all time in that league.
While the Wolverines have heavily outscored most of their opponents through these early games, they struggled against Maryland and have yet to face a top-ranked team. In fact, their schedule is incredibly easy for much of the year beyond Ohio State, which could prove to be a problem for the team on November 26, when the Buckeyes are looking for some revenge.
The Case for Ohio State
Ohio State didn’t just lose to Michigan last year: they lost shockingly badly, nearly mirroring their 2019 56-27 victory over the Wolverines in a 45-27 loss. In that game, the Buckeyes seemed tentative and confused and Michigan’s defense and offense were on fire. The Wolverines and Harbaugh clearly had a point to prove, as it had been 10 years since Michigan pulled off a 40-34 victory on the team in 2011.
It’s hard to imagine that the Buckeyes will look the same against Michigan come November 26. ON paper, it may seem that the Wolverines have the advantage. They’ve outscored their opponents 200-44 through the first four weeks, while Ohio State has “only” outscored their opponents 164-64. However, the quality of opponents is important and Michigan has faced some comically inept teams so far.
The same can’t be said of the Buckeyes. They faced some powerful programs at Notre Dame in Wisconsin and dominated these teams easily. Yes, routing Toledo 77-21 is the kind of early-season laugher that should be ignored by fans as a sign of a team’s dominance. However, Ohio State has had some more challenging games than Michigan so far and has come out on top without difficulty.
Making the Pick
As always, it’s tough to know who to pick in games like these. Few would have predicted Michigan beating Ohio State in 2021, so it’s clear that anything is possible. That’s what makes college football picks so fun for the betting fan. They never quite know what to expect and can make big money by betting wisely!