By: Aidan Champion


Saturday’s contest featuring the greatest rivalry in college football, No. 5 Michigan vs. No. 2 Ohio State, fittingly has just as much at stake as it ever has before. A top-five showdown, a spot in the Big Ten title game, a potential spot in the College Football Playoffs and much more is all on the line when the Buckeyes travel to Ann Arbor looking to conquer their rival from the north for the ninth time in a row.

The matchup on Saturday could change the course of recent history, though, as Wolverine coach Jim Harbaugh and his team will look to upset the Buckeyes and head to Indianapolis for a shot at the Big Ten title for the first time ever with Harbaugh at the helm. 

Here’s why Michigan will end the drought on Saturday:


Wolverine passing defense

This area of Michigan’s game will likely be the main determiner in Saturday’s showdown. Heisman Trophy front-runner C.J. Stroud just torched the Michigan State secondary last Saturday, having thrown for 432 passing yards and six touchdowns, even while sitting out for most of the second half. He is surrounded with some of the best receivers in the country in Chris Olave, Garrett Wilson and Jaxon Smith-Njigba, all of whom recorded 100-plus receiving yards in the blowout victory over the Spartans.

But the Wolverines could have the answer. Michigan ranks at No. 8 in the nation in passing yards allowed per game with 178.4. The Wolverines have held three of the top six passing offenses in the Big Ten under their passing yards average in their respective head-to-head matchups (Michigan State, Penn State, Maryland), all of which were on the road.

This will without a doubt be the key to Michigan containing the Buckeyes on Saturday, as Ohio State is sixth in the country in passing yards per game with 362.3.


The red zone

This is a key factor that some may be overlooking heading into this game. Michigan is No. 10 in the nation in red zone offense, scoring in the red zone almost 93% of the time. Ohio State’s red zone defense — as surprising as it may sound — is tied for 68th in the entire country.

Should quarterback Cade McNamara and the rest of the Wolverine offense be productive enough to enter into red zone territory on even half of its possessions this weekend, the Michigan offense could very well go toe-to-toe with Ohio State on the scoreboard.


The Big House

While the last 10 years of the rivalry suggest home field makes no difference in the matter, a game at the Big House in late November is always a promising advantage for the Wolverines. It’s one of the toughest environments to play in, and with all that is on the line, you can expect one of the most ecstatic crowds that Michigan Stadium has ever seen. 

The regular season conclusion for these two powerhouses kicks off at noon on Saturday and can be watched on FOX.


Written by: Aidan Champion

Aidan is an MSU Journalism Student and Spartan Football writer for:

Photo Courtesy of 247 Sports