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Sunday Observation: Michigan November 27, 2011 Source: BuckeyeSports.com - Ohio State's regular season came to an end with a loss for the first time in eight years. Get the full breakdown of the Buckeyes' 40-34 loss to the Wolverines in the latest version of Sunday Observation...Defense was atrocious — The point total, the yardage total and just the complete overall inability to slow down Michigan’s offense was apparent. That said, there needs to be something said about how many playmakers this team lost throughout the year on defense. Add in the injuries of Orhian Johnson and Ryan Shazier against the Wolverines and the OSU defense was practically playing its third string. That’s not an excuse because any pulse of a defensive effort would have likely resulted in an Ohio State win. I just think it is worth pointing out that the personnel on the field was only a shell of what it was supposed to be Saturday...Dan Herron didn’t make impact — Coming into the game I thought it was going to be Herron’s time to continue to be a Michigan killer. Though he scored a touchdown, making it his fourth game against the Wolverines in which he found the end zone, Herron carried the ball 15 times for 36 yards. The inability to get Boom going was really the only tragedy of the day for Ohio State’s offense. But perhaps the squad paid the ultimate price by not getting the running game going with its primary back like it has in years past against Michigan...
10 Things We Learned: First Loss to Michigan in Eight Years November 27, 2011 Source: The Ozone - 3. Play-calling actually does make a difference. All year, this coaching staff has been talking about mistakes and execution on offense, but Saturday’s game proved yet again what a little ingenuity and creativity in the play calling can do. The Buckeyes expected to find themselves in a little bit of a shoot-out, so they came out aggressive in the early stages of the game. Braxton Miller threw the ball on each of the first three first downs against Michigan, which is probably more than he has thrown on first down all season. The coaches clearly added some new things—and saved some other stuff—for this game, and it showed. For the first time all season, the offense actually had some balance. In fact, they were a passing attack in Ann Arbor, racking up 235 yards through the air compared to just 137 yards on the ground.
4. It was too little, too late for the 2011 Buckeyes. Unfortunately, Jim Bollman and his staff waited 11 games too long to start getting creative. They showed a glimpse of it in the first half of the Nebraska game, but then it went away for the rest of the year. In the meantime, the Buckeyes became a 6-5 football team and they were desperate for a season-saving victory against Michigan. Had the coaching staff decided to use a little of that creativity earlier in the year, maybe Ohio State would have been in a different position heading in to this game. Now we will never know.
5. This team never quit. This is not going to be one of those seasons Ohio State fans hold onto in their memories for years to come, but the one thing that should be remembered is how this team kept fighting. They weren’t the most talented. They didn’t have a lot of leadership. They were playing without their coach and without their star quarterback. They had very little balance and they couldn’t put together 60 minutes against a quality opponent all season long, but this team never gave up. Whether it was the Miami (Fla.) game early in the year with Joe Bauserman, or the final minutes of the Michigan game, this group kept fighting...
6. Braxton Miller is ahead of schedule. No one embodied that more than the team’s young quarterback. It just seemed like he was always going to make a play when they needed it most, and it certainly helped that he remained calm under pressure in every single situation he faced. Ever since he became the starting quarterback in week four, we have seen Miller become more and more comfortable running the offense. He has become a dynamic runner throughout the course of this season, but Saturday we saw a different side of Miller’s game...He finished with 335 yards of total offense, including 235 through the air, in his first every Michigan game. It took both Troy Smith and Terrelle Pryor until their third seasons at Ohio State to put up those kind of numbers in the Michigan game. This is only the beginning, but we saw a glimpse of the future Saturday, and it looks bright.
7. It’s a shame we didn’t get to watch DeVier Posey the player all season. There are plenty of people who would have been perfectly happy never seeing DeVier Posey in Scarlet and Gray ever again after his two five-game suspensions for violating NCAA rules. He hurt his team in the worst way and some people thought he should have been kicked off the team. Regardless of your personal feelings surrounding Posey, it sure was a pleasure watching him play receiver on Saturday. It certainly appears like Posey has gone from being a pretty good receiver last season to being almost uncoverable at the college level. Officially, he had three catches for 58 yards and a score, but anyone who saw the game knows that Posey was running open down the field all afternoon against Michigan’s secondary...
9. Ryan Shazier is one tough kid. It’s impossible to know what the game might have looked like if Shazier never gets hurt Saturday. The freshman linebacker was flying around the field making plays, and he was the only one on Ohio State’s defense with enough speed to track down Denard Robinson in the open field. It looked like the Buckeyes were going to be in big trouble after Shazier had to be helped off the field with a knee injury. He came back in, but didn’t quite look like himself. He stayed with it, though, and gutted it out for eight tackles Saturday despite pain in his knee that he called a "7 out of 10." This kid is not only fast, but tough. Those are two of the best qualities to have in a linebacker. He will be a starter and a playmaker for the Buckeyes in 2012.
10. John Simon will be back next year. There isn’t much to be said here except that Simon was the best player on Ohio State’s defense all season, and getting him back will be huge for next year. Simon should have more guys around him who can make plays in 2012, which should helped prevent the late-season drop-off we saw in his production this year. He is only going to continue to get better, and this is a huge start to the rebuilding process that must take place next season...
5 Things We Learned from Ohio State's Loss to Michigan November 26, 2011 Source: Eleven Warriors - Bullets misfire once again: The Luke Apologists spent all year hanging their hat on the fact Fickell had no say in the offensive staff and therefore couldn't be blamed for the struggles to score points. Obviously, there were other factors like suspensions and such but we'll talk about that later. The point here is that Fickell is a defensive guy and the defense was again a huge reason this team couldn't win one game over the final three. Yesterday, the Bullets surrendered 277 yards on the ground for average of roughly six yards a pop. Combined with the 239 they allowed to Penn State, that's 516 yards rushing in TWO GAMES against an Ohio State defense. I know, I know. Injuries were definitely a factor. Apparently, so was the inability to develop linebackers and safeties. The one hire Luke did make, Mike Vrabel, didn't seem to have much of an impact on paper this year. Sabino continued to be a terrible tackler, Klein only seemed to get wider in the midsection and Sweat didn't appear to improve as the season wore on before finally getting hurt. The much hyped Curtis Grant was a non-factor all year. Ryan Shazier is the lone LB who actually improved under Luke/Vrabel leadership...
5 Things We Learned from Ohio State's Loss to Michigan November 26, 2011 Source: The Bleacher Report - The Buckeye Run Defense Has a Lot to Ground to Make Up Next Year...Luke Fickell Isn't the Guy for This Coaching Job...Braxton Miller Is Going to Be a Star...The Rivalry Hasn't Faded...This Was a Season Better Forgotten...
FINAL: No. 16 Michigan’s Denard Robinson is one of the best tailbacks in the Big Ten, and he proved it against Ohio State on Saturday, carrying the Wolverines to a 40-34 victory at Michigan Stadium. Robinson, who came in ranked No. 5 in the conference in rushing yards at 993 on the year, rushed 26 times for 170 yards and two touchdowns. Braxton Miller was a bright spot in defeat for Ohio State (6-6), as he rushed for 96 yards on 17 carries and scored one touchdown. Michigan (10-2) and the Buckeyes put on an entertaining offensive show. The Wolverines and Ohio State rode their powerful offenses to a combined 812 total yards. Michigan’s offense finished the game having gained 444 yards. The Wolverines complemented Robinson’s passing with 278 yards rushing on 50 attempts. Robinson threw for 166 yards while completing 14 of 17 passes for Michigan. Robinson finished the game with three touchdowns and no interceptions. The Buckeyes’ offense finished the game having gained 368 yards, including 236 passing yards on 14 completions. Ohio State’s running game proved effective, netting 132 yards on 32 rushes. The Buckeyes’ Miller was good for 236 yards during the game, completing 14 of 25 passes. Miller tossed two touchdowns and one interception.
FOURTH QUARTER: Michigan ran for 88 yards in the quarter, and the Wolverines kept Ohio State at bay for a 40-34 victory. Michigan held the Buckeyes to just 14 rushing yards in the quarter. Ohio State capped a 28-yard drive when Drew Basil drilled a 21-yard field goal to make the score 30-27. The Buckeyes squandered an opportunity to score a touchdown, missing a chance to score from the Wolverines’ two-yard line before settling for the field goal. Ohio State started in good field position at Michigan’s 32-yard line when the Buckeyes recovered a fumble. The Wolverines opened up the lead, 37-27, after Denard Robinson tossed a four-yard touchdown to Kevin Koger to end a seven-play, 75-yard drive. Ohio State made the score 37-34 after Dan Herron turned a handoff into a four-yard touchdown to finish off an 80-yard drive. Michigan made its lead 40-34 when Brendan Gibbons kicked a 43-yard field goal on the last play of an 11-play, 54-yard drive. The Wolverines’ drive stalled at the Buckeyes’ one-yard line and Michigan settled for a field goal. The Wolverines’ Fitzgerald Toussaint hit 100 yards rushing for the game in the quarter, part of his 121-yard rushing performance. Ohio State’s Braxton Miller hit 200 yards passing for the game in the quarter, part of his 236-yard passing performance.
THIRD QUARTER: Denard Robinson led Michigan in the quarter. He threw for 57 yards and one touchdown and ran for 42 yards, and the Wolverines have taken the lead 30-24. Robinson’s 20-yard touchdown pass to Martavious Odoms gave Michigan the lead 30-24 after a 10-play, 80-yard drive. The Wolverines’ Robinson hit 100 yards rushing for the game in the quarter, part of his 124-yard rushing performance thus far. Ohio State is poised to score with the ball on Michigan’s five-yard line to start the fourth quarter.
SECOND QUARTER: Ohio State put up 17 points in the second, and the Buckeyes have taken the lead 24-23. Ohio State finished with 63 yards through the air and 72 on the ground in the quarter. The Buckeyes made the score 16-10 after Drew Basil drilled a 45-yard field goal to finish off a 27-yard drive. Pass plays were an afterthought for Ohio State, as the Buckeyes threw just two passes during that march downfield. Braxton Miller’s 19-yard touchdown run gave Ohio State the lead, 17-16, and was the final play of a three-play, 31-yard drive. The Buckeyes began the drive with good field position after Ohio State recovered a fumble. Denard Robinson’s six-yard touchdown run gave Michigan the lead 23-17 after a nine-play, 80-yard drive. The Wolverines’ drive was keyed by Fitzgerald Toussaint’s 46-yard run. Miller’s 43-yard touchdown pass to DeVier Posey put the Buckeyes on top 24-23, the final play on a six-play, 66-yard drive. Ohio State ran just one time on that drive. Michigan will have possession to start the second half.
FIRST QUARTER: No. 16 Michigan racked up 65 rushing yards in the first, and the Wolverines lead 16-7 at the end of the first quarter. Michigan stuffed the run, giving up just nine yards on the ground in the quarter. Ohio State has given up the last 16 points. The Buckeyes scored when Braxton Miller found Corey Brown open for a 54-yard touchdown pass to finish off a six-play, 80-yard drive, giving Ohio State the game’s first lead. The Wolverines tied the game at seven after Denard Robinson took a quarterback draw all the way for a 41-yard touchdown run to end a two-play, 47-yard drive. Michigan started in good field position when the Wolverines returned a punt. Michigan opened up the lead, 16-7, after Robinson and Junior Hemingway combined for a 26-yard touchdown to end an eight-play, 52-yard drive. The Wolverines will start the second quarter with the ball on their own 11-yard line.
Source: Big Ten Network
Ohio State-Michigan Key To The Game: Linebacker play November 26, 2011 Source: Cleveland Plain Dealer - Ohio State freshman Ryan Shazier's second-quarter knee injury Saturday changed the game in a lot of ways and couldn't have cast a greater light on the linebackers, even more than we thought going into the game.
Already replacing senior Andrew Sweat, who might have been recovered from his concussion but was out after hurting his left elbow in practice on Wednesday, the Buckeyes couldn't afford to take Shazier off the field. This despite the fact that he said the pain of his left knee sprain was a seven on a scale of 1 to 10.
"It was killing me out there," Shazier said, "but I knew I had to do what I can to help this team get a victory."
Shazier finished with eight tackles, but he said he wasn't close to his old self after the injury, with a brace on the knee. "I don't feel like I was the same player after the injury as I was before, but I still felt I brought a lot of key components to the team," he said.
The next weakside linebacker up after Shazier probably was a former walk-on, illustrating what we've known to be a lack of linebacker depth this year. Playing Etienne Sabino and Storm Klein, the two Buckeyes who share the middle linebacker spot, together just wouldn't have given the Buckeyes the speed and tackling they needed. So Ohio State was forced to deal with plays like Michigan running back Fitzgerald Toussaint's 46-yard run in the second quarter, when Shazier was ready to make a tackle attempt and just fell to the ground, admitting his knee gave out.
It wasn't the only injury, as the Buckeyes were also without starting safety Christian Bryant because of injury, and his replacement, Orhian Johnson, also went out for a while after getting hurt.
"It says a lot about their toughness and what this team means to them and tells about their character," senior defensive back Tyler Moeller said of Shazier and Johnson getting back on the field.
Starting just his second game of the season, it was obvious how much Shazier already means to this defense. If the linebacker had played healthy, the defense may have looked a little different.
And the Game Ball Goes to…
Braxton Miller: Miller will regret the overthrows, especially the final miscue that would have given the Buckeyes a 41-40 lead with roughly a minute remaining. That play will scar his memory, serving as a reminder of what can happen if he’s not 100% on his game. But it will also motivate him. And other teams around the Big Ten ought to be very concerned.
Miller, with a little more practice and some chemistry with his wideouts, is going to be an excellent quarterback. He has the mobility of Terrelle Pryor, but a better pocket presence and passing arm. With time, he could become one of the program’s best QBs ever.
Even in defeat, Miller is electric to watch, and his never-say-die attitude is critical in close games. Source: isportsweb
It’s hard to believe the Buckeyes had control of their Big Ten destiny just a month ago. They finished the regular season on a three-game losing streak Saturday following a 40-34 setback to Michigan. It’s the first time they have dropped three straight to end the regular-season since 1999 when they went 6-6. Prior to that you have to go back to 1971 when Woody Hayes went 6-4. ...
Freshman quarterback Braxton Miller notched season highs in total offense (335 yards), completions (14) and passing yards (235)
Running back Dan Herron scored a fourth-quarter touchdown. He became the first Buckeye to score a touchdown in four Michigan games.
Safety C.J. Barnett led the Buckeyes with 12 tackles. Linebackers Etienne Sabino and Ryan Shazier each had eight tackles.
Source: Cleveland Plain Dealer
Corey "Philly" Brown (WR) - Though he later dropped what would have been a stellar catch, Brown earned his first touchdown and gave the Bucks a 7-0 lead. He added another key grab later, finishing with 76 yards and the score.
DeVier Posey (WR) - Posey had a long score of his own in addition to drawing plenty of defensive attention all game long. That helped keep the line of scrimmage open for Miller to work.
Drew Basil (K)- Basil hit a pair of field goals, including a 45-yarder that kept the game within reach early. His leg gives the Buckeyes a long-range weapon that every struggling offense prizes. Source: isportsweb
Just wondering: What happened to the stick-figure play-calling? It was impossible to watch and not ask why, why, WHY the Buckeyes offense waited until the last game, and within that the last seven minutes, to run a 21st century offense.
Turning point: On Ohio State’s last possession with less two minutes to go and trailing by six, DeVier Posey broke open behind a Michigan defensive back, but Braxton Miller’s pass was 5 yards too far. Five plays later, Miller was intercepted, and The Game was over.
Exposed: Chasing Robinson is no easy task, and the Buckeyes’ problems at linebacker exacerbated that. After Ryan Shazier was banged up, especially, they had no one who could spy and close on Robinson consistently — not even Shazier, who limped back out there and gave it his best try.
Stat that matters: Michigan had five touchdowns, Ohio State four. Having to settle for that second field goal from Drew Basil turned out to be the difference, at least when added to the safety the Buckeyes suffered when Mike Adams was called for holding in the end zone in the first quarter.
Repercussion: Ohio State’s seven-game winning streak in the rivalry is done. Michigan is likely headed to the Sugar Bowl. The Buckeyes want to go bowling, too, but in the meantime await the expected announcement of Urban Meyer as their next coach. It’s going to be a weird month.
They said it: As heard on TV: With Urban Meyer bowing out of the booth, Chris Spielman teamed with Dave Pasch to deliver a mostly seamless broadcast. Credit Spielman for burying his Buckeyes bias where viewers won’t see it, to the point of suggesting that Michigan’s offense might want to attack OSU linebacker Ryan Shazier, who was hobbled with a leg injury. But Spiels can’t mask all his OSU loyalty. At one point he referred to Michigan coach as Brady Hokey. Freudian slip?
As heard in stands: Chants of "Beat O-HI-O."
Numbers for dummies 1: Ohio State’s first loss to Michigan in nine attempts after scoring 34 points or more
3: Overthrown passes by Braxton Miller that likely would have been touchdowns
By the numbers 2: Catches by Ohio State tight ends Jake Stoneburner and Reid Fragel, both coming on the 4th qtr touchdown drive
4: Number of Michigan games in which Ohio State running back Daniel Herron had at least one touchdown
6: Ohio State’s losses, the most in a season since 1999, the last time the Buckeyes didn’t play in a bowl game Source: Columbus Dispatch
Bollman said they wanted to come out early and be aggressive throwing the ball after the last 3 weeks.
Bollman said Michigan does a great job of blitzing on passing downs, so they wanted to throw more in running situations.
Boom Herron said they added a few new plays to the playbook for this week.
Bollman said we have no idea how much of a difference Posey makes, even seeing him get open as much as he did today.
Bollman said Braxton had a pretty good day...the near misses were things that will come with experience.
Braxton Miller said his main focus right now is watching film and getting better for next year.
Defensive Notes: John Simon also said that he will definitely be back next season.
An Emotional Luke Fickell:
Fickell was asked about his future and Urban Meyer. Declined to comment out of respect for the Ohio State-Michigan game.
Fickell was asked again, he slammed his fist on the table. Said the only thing I know is we're getting on the bus...and trying to get better.
Win One for Tressel?:
A number of players confirmed after the game that Jim Tressel addressed the team earlier this week.
The players said it was emotional to hear from Tressel and they wanted to win this one for him, Fickell and Joe Daniels.
Center Michael Brewster called it "an honor" to hear from Tressel again. Said for a minute it was like everything had just been a bad dream.
Source: The Ozone
It was over when... Ohio State couldn't score on its last drive after Michigan had to settle for a field goal.
Gameball goes to... Michigan QB Denard Robinson had 5 TDs, passing for 3 and running for 2 more. Robinson is the fourth Michigan QB to throw three touchdowns against Ohio State. The last player to do it was Drew Henson in 2000. He also ran for the third-most rushing yards by a Michigan player in the rivalry.
Stat of the game... 7. Michigan's victory snapped a seven-game win streak by Ohio State in the storied rivalry. Source: ESPN
CFN Analysis November 26, 2011 Source: CollegeFootballNews.com - There it is, Michigan, You’re long nightmare is over – at least until Urban Meyer is hired in Columbus. … Denard Robinson came up with the most effective game of his great career, running 26 times for 170 yards and two scores, while completing 14-of-17 passes for 167 yards and three touchdowns. … And no interceptions. … The defense couldn’t seem to get a good grip on Braxton Miller, but no one can. Dan Herron was swarmed over every time he touched the ball. … The secondary was fortunate on a few key plays late. The OSU receivers got deep after the Wolverines sold out to get into the backfield, and Miller missed his targets. … An at-large BCS game should be a given now. The Sugar Bowl is the most likely option.
Braxton Miller was tremendous. He kept the offense rolling in a shootout with his legs, and shockingly, with his arm. … DeVier Posey only caught three passes for 58 yards and as score, but he took all the attention away from the other Buckeye receivers. … Dan Herron only ran 15 times for 37 yards and a score. Miller was the only other Buckeye to get a carry. … 31 runs, 26 carries. That’s not how the game was supposed to play out. … The defensive front seven couldn’t contain the speed and quickness of Denard Robinson and Fitzgerald Toussaint. The linebackers always seemed a step out of place. … Losing to Michigan might stink, but it was a good performance and should set the tone for a big 2011. The pieces are in place for Urban Meyer – potentially - to step in and rock right away...
NET YARDS RUSHING
Average Per Rush
Yards Gained Rushing
Yards Lost Rushing
NET YARDS PASSING
Average Per Attempt
Average Per Completion
TOTAL OFFENSE YARDS
Total offense plays
Average Gain Per Play
Average Yards Per Punt
Net Yards Per Punt
Average Yards Per Kickoff
Net Yards Per Kickoff
Punt returns: Number-Yards-TD
Average Per Return
Kickoff returns: Number-Yds-TD
Average Per Return
Fumble Returns: Number-Yds-TD
5 of 12
5 of 11
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Sacks By: Number-Yards
Signals get crossed on ill-timed spike November 26, 2011 Source: Columbus Dispatch - On the sideline, Ohio State coach Luke Fickell waved his arms in a circular motion, signaling quarterback Braxton Miller to run the next play. But Miller either interpreted it differently or heard differently, and spiked the ball. That play, on third-and-6 at the Ohio State 35-yard line with 45 seconds remaining, left the Buckeyes with only one chance to continue their last-ditch drive. When Miller’s fourth-down pass was intercepted, Ohio State’s 40-34 loss to Michigan yesterday was sealed.
Fickell said the Buckeyes wanted Miller to spike the ball on second down, but the quarterback threw a short completion to Devin Smith. Fickell certainly didn’t want Miller to spike it on third down. But that’s what Miller thought. "We had a play called and I was looking to the sideline and coaches were telling me to spike it," Miller said.
The Buckeyes were out of timeouts after using their final one earlier in the drive. "You can go back over it and say, ‘Hey, I’d like to have another down,’" Fickell said. "But that’s for a different time."
Saturday's report card from Ohio State-Michigan November 26, 2011 Source: Cleveland Plain Dealer - The Buckeyes' handling of the Urban Meyer talk -- A..., Ohio State's wristbands -- B They weren't quite the "Earle" headbands that the Buckeyes sported for the Michigan game after coach Earle Bruce was fired in 1987, but several Buckeyes did acknowledge some coaches with initials on their wristbands..., Penalties -- C...
The Bottom Line November 26, 2011 Source: Columbus Dispatch - Ohio State Report Card Offense (3 leaves) Braxton Miller is pure dynamite on two wheels, the Buckeyes’ best player with the ball in his hands. When it leaves his hands is another story. The touchdown tosses were sweet, the missed TD throws sour, and the scales won’t tip until someone coaches him up. But he is a building block, Defense (2 leaves)..., Special teams (3 leaves)..., Coaching (3 leaves) The Buckeyes declined every opportunity to crack under the pressure applied by a hungrier, more talented team, and there is something to be said for that. Good, too, was that the playbook creaked open long enough for some pass plays to sneak out. Was OSU too conservative on fourth down?, Opponent (4 leaves), Officiating (2 leaves)...
Strategically speaking: Offensive coordinator Jim Bollman evidently tossed his past three game plans in the trash because the Buckeyes came out intent on throwing as much as running. A 54-yard touchdown pass to Corey Brown on the opening drive was a stunning eye-opener. It was the mix the Buckeyes needed to stay in the scoring race with the Wolverines. But as Woody Hayes and Darrell Royal used to say, three things can happen when you throw, and two of them are bad. If Miller had connected on a couple of those long throws he missed, Ohio State’s winning streak in The Game might have endured.
Open game plan: OSU offensive coordinator Jim Bollman was the subject of derision among many fans this season for some of the game plans that appeared to treat pass as a four-letter word. But yesterday the Buckeyes came out throwing, and the pass could have been their salvation had Miller connected on some golden opportunities, including a deep shot to DeVier Posey on the last possession. "DeVier opens up a lot for us," center Michael Brewster said. "I think they were expecting run, and we were airing it out. … I thought (Bollman) did a real nice job."
Source: Columbus Dispatch
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Ohio State at Michigan: Inside 'The Game' November 26, 2011 Source: Cleveland Plain Dealer - Five years ago, Michigan defensive coordinator Greg Mattison stopped Ohio State. But not for the Wolverines. He did it for Urban Meyer...Then, Mattison had six weeks to prepare for the Buckeyes and two tremendous defensive ends as weapons. Now, as the first-year defensive coordinator at Michigan under good friend Brady Hoke, Mattison has had a week and doesn’t have that level of talent. But he does have the Michigan defense playing like a new group...Mattison was at Michigan as the defensive line coach and then defensive coordinator for five years (1992-96). This time around, he has added ideas brought from his most recent job as defensive coordinator of the Baltimore Ravens...
THE EMOTIONAL: Battling Mattision will be Bollman, whose 11-year career at Ohio State is certainly coming to a close. More than anyone, Bollman has taken the blame for a lot of the Buckeyes’ shortfalls this year, his first calling plays without Jim Tressel’s input. (By the way, he said he has talked to Tressel "very infrequently" this season.) Loved by his offensive linemen for years, the bigger responsibility has added more heat, and Bollman knows it...
THE PHYSICAL: The Buckeyes must chase down the Michigan running game. Quarterback Denard Robinson has been relied on less as a ground threat lately, running for 273 yards on 80 carries in his past five games after running for 674 yards on 94 carries in his previous five games. Still, the biggest threats on either side of the ball are the legs of the quarterbacks. A couple of big plays by Robinson or Miller could decide the game. That makes OSU freshman linebacker Ryan Shazier extra important for the Buckeyes when it comes to chasing down ballcarriers, especially Robinson, in the open field.
THE FUN: The last word goes to former Ohio State defensive back Malcolm Jenkins, who now has a Super Bowl ring with the New Orleans Saints. Jenkins was the kind of solid citizen, but with a hard edge, that the Buckeyes could use more of right now. He was at the Buckeyes’ loss to Penn State last week, and he sent this message about playing Michigan, while remembering the way he took down Michigan receiver Greg Mathews at the end of a play during his last Michigan game in 2008. "I feel it’s to a point now where, if you’re a defensive back or a receiver, if you don’t get into some scuffle within the first 10 plays, you’re not doing something right," Jenkins said. "It has to happen. That’s just what it is. You come out and you set the tone. That’s what kind of game it is."
KEY TO THE GAME: Linebacker play: Emotion will go a long way, and Luke Fickell and Brady Hoke, in the first battle of first-year coaches in this game since 1929, can give their teams a leg up by getting them on edge. But that will last only so long. When it gets down to blocking and tackling, the linebackers must prevent regular runs from turning into big plays on both sides. And there are a lot of young guys on the line. Ohio State freshman Ryan Shazier jumped onto the scene with 15 tackles last week, but two of Michigan’s three starting linebackers are freshmen as well. And they’ve been handling themselves...
What to Watch for Saturday: Ohio State’s run defense. If the Buckeyes hope to continue their run of dominance over Michigan, the defense will need to win the game. And the unit has been spotty this year. Penn State ran for 239 yards last week against the Buckeyes. If Denard Robinson and Toussaint Fitzgerald are having their way on the ground, it will be a long day for the Buckeyes. Source: Big Ten Network
Legend Difference <25 in National Rank = Push Difference >25 in National Rank = Ohio State Difference >50 in National Rank = Ohio State+ Difference >75 in National Rank = Ohio State++ Differences >100 in National Rank = Ohio State+++
Michigan football team gobbles up two running QBs, ready for another in Ohio State's Braxton Miller November 25, 2011 Source: AnnArbor.com - The fulcrum of Ohio State's offense is a running quarterback. Could that be an advantage for the Michigan football team? The past two weeks, the Wolverines have faced Illinois' Nathan Scheelhaase and Nebraska's Taylor Martinez , two of the Big Ten's best mobile quarterbacks outside of their own Denard Robinson. Michigan was suffocating both times, and steamrolled both offenses en route to easy wins. "He’s just flat-out a playmaker, if he’s going back in play-action or whatever it might be," Wolverines coach Brady Hoke said this week. "He’s a tremendous athlete. He’s a rather big guy and has great feet. "He’s difficult to defend." Yet, Michigan (9-2, 5-2) has proven to be capable of defending quarterbacks such as Miller. The Wolverines were successful two weeks ago against Scheelhaase, sacking him four times and limiting him to 184 total yards -- including just 14 rushing. Last week, Martinez completed just 9-of-23 passes and needed 16 rushes to gain 49 yards. Michigan held Illinois to 214 yards, 162.2 off its season average, and Nebraska to 260, 131 yards off its season average. Those are encouraging numbers heading into another matchup against a team that relies on a mobile quarterback...
KEYS TO THE GAME: Ohio State will need to force Michigan QB Denard Robinson into mistakes to have the upper hand here, since that is what made the difference in Michigan's losses to Michigan State and Iowa. "Turnovers. I think in both the Michigan State and Iowa games, the thing is they battled and battled and got turnovers down in the red zone, and made some plays," Ohio State coach Luke Fickell said.
KEYS TO THE GAME: Michigan is aware that turnovers have played a huge role in the outcome of this game. "I think it's like every game: you've got to take care of the football," Michigan coach Brady Hoke said. "You can't give the football to the opponent — ball security, the decisions that you make, reducing the number of big plays, your field position that you gain or lose in the special teams. To me, it's all that kind of stuff."
SCOUTING THE OFFENSE: It is week 12 of the season and the Buckeyes are still searching for some kind of consistent passing game. The return of senior WR DeVier Posey from 10 games worth of suspensions helped a bit last week against Penn State, but Ohio State averages just 114 passing yards per game, right near the bottom nationally. Although the meetings with Michigan have not historically been passing competitions, the Buckeyes need some balance to keep the Wolverines from loading up against the run.
SCOUTING THE DEFENSE: Ohio State gets to match up with Michigan QB Denard Robinson, who brings a lot of momentum into the game after a couple recent strong performances. "He poses a lot of problems," Ohio State coach Luke Fickell said. "Anytime the quarterback's got the ability to keep plays alive, running the football, it makes you struggle a little bit on defense with some things you can do and the chances you can take." If the Buckeyes can limit Robinson's impact plays, they have a much better chance of being successful in Ann Arbor.
SCOUTING THE OFFENSE: The Wolverines have their offense clicking coming into the season-finale. QB Denard Robinson had 263 yards of offense in last week's win over Nebraska, accounting for two rushing touchdowns and two more passing. RB Fitzgerald Toussaint had two touchdowns while carrying the ball 29 times for 138 yards. With Toussaint running effectively, Robinson's dual threat abilities do the most damage to the opposition.
SCOUTING THE DEFENSE: Michigan's defense is trending in a very positive direction. The Wolverines knocked down six passes against Nebraska, sacked the quarterback three times and had six tackles for loss. Michigan faces a difficult assignment in slowing Ohio State freshman QB Braxton Miller, who is a threat to break a big play with each snap. "It's a tough job," Michigan coach Brady Hoke said. "I've gotten to watch five games now. He's impressive. He does a great job for them. I think the way he handles himself, I think how he's played under pressure. I think he's done a tremendous job." Source: USA Today
OSU's defense not up to Wolverines' standards November 25, 2011 Source: Mansfield News Journal - The defense hasn't been historically bad, like Michigan's defense in 2010, but put it this way: Ohio State is looking up at its archrival in virtually every statistical category. Remember last season, when the Wolverines gave up an average of 35 points and 451 yards and forced only 19 turnovers? This season they rank 14th in the nation in total defense (312.6 ypg), sixth in scoring defense (15.6 ppg) and 11th in takeaways (26). They not only ranked ahead of OSU in those categories, but also in rushing defense, pass defense, pass efficiency defense, sacks, third-down conversion defense, fourth-down conversion defense, turnover margin and red zone defense...
Ohio State Football: How the Buckeyes Can Extend Their Win Streak over Michigan November 25, 2011 Source: The Bleacher Report - Michigan hasn't been in this position in quite some time, and now they need to beat Ohio State or else they will have failed to live up to expectations. On the other side, a Buckeyes team that has been used to beating Michigan does have some more incentive to get up for the game, being the underdog. The big thing Ohio State needs to do is to be able to start fast, which is something they haven't been able to do much of all season long. But with a good running attack led by senior RB Dan Herron and freshman phenom Braxton Miller, they will have a chance to control the tempo which is something they need to do. They will need to carve out some semblance of a passing game, or even the imitation of one (which at times they have failed to do), to get Michigan's blitzing defense off balance, opening up running lanes for Miller. Luckily, Ohio State understands what it takes to beat their biggest rival to the north, and the intensity level it takes to earn the famous Gold Pants...
1. Fast start: Ohio State has fallen behind in each of its past four games, the last three by 10-0 margins. The Buckeyes must avoid another slow start. Michigan — and its crowd — will be at a fever pitch, and an early Wolverines lead could snowball. Because of its feeble passing game, Ohio State is not well-suited to having to rally. OSU’s best chance will be to jump on the Wolverines early and remind them why they’ve lost seven straight in the series.
2. Spy Robinson: Michigan’s dynamic QB Denard Robinson was reined in earlier this year as coach Brady Hoke installed a more-conventional offense. That was done in part to minimize the hits on Robinson. But late in the season, the Wolverines have relied more on the junior’s legs. Ohio State would rather Robinson pass than run, and the Buckeyes must contain his scrambles. The best player to do that is freshman linebacker Ryan Shazier, who has the necessary speed and hitting ability.
3. 'Boom' time: Daniel "Boom" Herron has rushed for 358 yards and three touchdowns in his career against Michigan, averaging 7.3 yards per carry. This Wolverines defense is vastly superior to the previous ones, but another big game by Herron is needed. If he gets on a roll, that will make Braxton Miller much more effective. The quarterback draw with Miller can’t be the only play the Buckeyes turn to when in trouble.
4. Find Posey: Buckeyes receiver DeVier Posey made an impressive return last week from his 10-game suspension, and a one-handed sideline catch was the highlight. He caught four passes, and it would behoove the Buckeyes to get Posey the ball as much as possible when they have to throw. It’s not as if Ohio State has a surplus of receivers who can consistently get open and catch the ball, so Miller needs to get it to the one who has shown he can.
5. Maintain poise: The Buckeyes have a talented freshman class, but they haven’t stepped into a hostile environment like they’ll face today. It will be crucial for them to embrace the moment but not get so hyped that they play out of control. This is less an issue for Miller than it is for the other youngsters. Miller already has shown unnatural calm under pressure. Others must follow suit.
Ohio State QB Braxton Miller vs. Michigan defense. The freshman has failed to connect on half of his passes in three straight games and is connecting on 48.6 percent overall this season, getting pushed into a starting role to replace the departed Terrelle Pryor. If the Buckeyes are going to pull off an upset, Miller will likely have to be accurate on his throws and surpass his career high of 132 yards passing. Michigan, of course, will want to rattle Miller with pressure from its front seven and make plays in the secondary. (Source: Detroit Free Press)
Lots of upsets in The Game’s 107 meetings November 24, 2011 Source: Associated Press - Being a favorite doesn’t mean much whenever Ohio State and Michigan meet. The history of this heated rivalry is littered with upsets and surprises...In other words, don’t count out the Buckeyes, who are seven-point underdogs...
Herron Looks to Etch Name into Rivalry Lore November 24, 2011 Source: The Ozone - Herron has been a part of four Ohio State victories against Michigan since coming to Columbus in 2007. He played in the last three and has already made a name for himself as one of the rivalry’s top-performers. In three meetings with the Wolverines, Herron has tallied four touchdowns while averaging 117 yards per game on the ground. He went for 80 yards and two scores on just eight carries as a redshirt freshman in 2008...A year ago, Herron had his breakout game in the series, rushing for 175 yards on 22 carries. That included the 89 yard run (officially) that led to Ohio State’s first touchdown, as well as a 32-yard touchdown run of his own in the third quarter. "This game here is The Game. It's a one-game season. You are remembered by what you do in this game," Herron said. "I want to go out there and try to have a great game."...
DeVier Posey, Solomon Thomas, Tyler Moeller, Boom Herron & John Simon message for Ohio State fans.
Game Data: Ohio State at Michigan November 18, 2011 Source: Bucknuts - The renaissance of the Michigan defense has been nothing short of amazing. The guys have finally grown up and have outstanding coaching from coordinator Greg Mattison. They are third in the Big Ten in points allowed (15.6 ppg). With each week, this defense shows more improvement and confidence. OSU has rolled up big point totals in recent years against UM’s sadsack defenses. But that does not figure to be the case on Saturday...Ohio State simply makes too many mistakes on each side of the ball to be taken seriously here – and that’s an amazing notion, given where these programs were just a few short months ago. The only saving grace is the Buckeyes have been in all four of their Big Ten losses and probably could have won three of those games (i.e. the ones where they didn’t play Penn State, which outplayed OSU six ways from Tuesday at Ohio Stadium). OSU has lost those four games by a combined 19 points – an average of 4.7 points...
X's and O's: Breakin' down the Wolverines November 24, 2011 Source: Along the Olentangy - I have decided to provide a schematic look at the Michigan offense and defense. I will preface this by saying that--simply on talent alone--Michigan is not 8.5 points better than Ohio State. Michigan has been playing better football, however, and have had the breaks go their way this year (one of which was avoiding Penn State and Wisconsin and playing Nebraska, Notre Dame, and OSU at home). Momentum can often build upon itself, and can be the difference between winning and losing. That being said, there are not many positions where you would take the Michigan starter over his OSU counterpart. The most obvious exception is at the Quarterback position, where Michigan has an experienced all Big Ten player while OSU is playing a true freshman. Even there, however, Denard Robinson has not performed at the same level as last season. The upshot is simply to state that Ohio State has a real path to victory Saturday...
Ohio State defense struggling November 24, 2011 Source: Columbus Dispatch - Inconsistent play put Buckeyes in hole past 3 games...Jim Heacock isn’t used to seeing the Ohio State defense repeatedly miss tackles and give up big plays. So it has been quite off-putting for the veteran defensive coordinator to deal with the inconsistent play by his unit this season, especially in recent weeks. Now comes The Game at Michigan on Saturday against the Wolverines’ multidimensional offense, led by dual-threat quarterback Denard Robinson. The Buckeyes hope to get things right from the start after three straight weeks of spotting the opponent 10-0 leads, eventually losing the past two games. Heacock said he can’t put his finger on a cause. "I wish I could," he said. "You try and look back through it, and I don’t really have an answer. I wish I did. I could tell you something...
Criticism just part of the job, Bollman says November 24, 2011 Source: Columbus Dispatch - Jim Bollman has been at Ohio State for 10 seasons and in coaching for 31. The Buckeyes’ offensive coordinator understands there are no guarantees in his profession, particularly when his unit has struggled and a new coaching staff is expected to be hired. But this is Michigan week, so Bollman is trying to put his own uncertain future out of his mind. "It is probably impossible, but you do the best job you can to stay focused on what the task at hand is," he said on Monday. "There have been plenty of good times and there are rough times, too. You have to do the best job you can to just stay focused. (Family members) are sometimes (what) we get more concerned about than ourselves because there is not a lot that they can do about it." Not that relatives also don’t chime in with criticism. He joked that his daughters occasionally question him as well. Because of former head coach Jim Tressel’s resignation in May, this is Bollman’s first season clearly in charge of the offense...
Head Coach Luke Fickell talked about the Michigan game, and NOT about his future or the future of the head coaching position at Ohio State.
Fickell Does Not Address Coach Reports November 23, 2011 Source: BuckeyeSports.com - In his last scheduled press appearance of the week Wednesday, Fickell did his best to keep the focus on the squad’s next task, a season-ending clash with archrival Michigan, despite reports continuing to surface that someone else will be in his place next year...
"You can salvage any season by beating Michigan. It's the biggest game of the year for us. ... Losing five games isn't great, but beating Michigan, that's what really counts." - Junior TE Jake Stoneburner
Ohio State Michigan: The best Rivalry in Sports
Key to The Game: Talent or passion? November 22, 2011 Source: ESPN - Sorry, folks. Never bought that argument. Michigan lost to Ohio State because Michigan wasn't good enough to win. When Michigan had the better team, it would start beating the Buckeyes more often. Why bring this up now? Because of what Ohio State coach Luke Fickell had to say Tuesday about The Game.
"It's about passion and will," Fickell said. "You don't win these types of games based on talent."
Really? Superior talent certainly appeared to be a factor in Ohio State's seven-game win streak against Michigan. The Wolverines didn't seem to lack passion or will when they missed countless tackles against Ohio State during the last three seasons. "There's a fine line between better teams in college football sometimes," Fickell said. "It still comes down to playing. When you have the rivalries and the different things and two obviously great programs, they've got players on both sides. Whether one side's playing better than the other, it's still not about talent. It's about a team. It's about a passion. ...Take talent and those things out of it."...
Up next: Michigan, which because of its resurgence could be in line for a BCS game bid after a rash of upsets over the weekend. There was concern that Hoke had made Denard Robinson too much of a pocket quarterback as the season progressed, but Robinson returned to his big-play ways in the Wolverines’ dismantling of Nebraska on Saturday. And Michigan is playing defense again, just like in the pre-Rich Rodriguez days.
This week’s challenge: There will be plenty of talk by OSU players and coaches about how it’s never difficult to get up for The Game, no matter the circumstances. Now they get a chance to prove it. The Buckeyes have a seven-game winning streak over Michigan and have won nine of the past 10 in the series. But they are on a two-game losing streak this year, and with all the coaching rumors swirling, they are trying to avoid their first 6-6 season since 1999. Source: Columbus Dispatch
Inexperience is a challenge still shadowing Ohio State's defense entering Michigan Week November 21, 2011 Source: Cleveland Plain Dealer - "We just don't have a real confident group right now," Heacock said Monday. "You're probably not going to when you have four or five freshmen out there and some young guys. When something goes wrong or it doesn't look real good at a particular time, they kind of panic a little bit. "I think that's where if you had some of those guys we had last year, they would take care of it and be fine and everything would be all right."...Ohio State’s defense has far less experience in its expected starting lineup on Saturday than it did a year ago against Michigan. Here are the career starts from last year at this time compared to this year...Total games of experience: 237 in 2010, 129 in 2011...
Ohio State-Michigan offers a big stage for the biggest heroics November 21, 2011 Source: Cleveland Plain Dealer - Ohio State-Michigan in the Big House is the perfect forum for a conference devoted to spectacle. The Big Ten promises players a big stage and a big life. Saturday, everyone in Ann Arbor will be living large. This is our shared epic, both in The Heart of It All and Up North. Woody Hayes spoke the very word "Michigan" only under duress, preferring the compass designation, "That School Up North." As in north to Alaska. Or, in this case, north to unfounded arrogance and ugly helmets. Brady Hoke, the new Michigan coach, has had a transformative effect on a downtrodden program not seen since the early days of Bo Schembechler. Hoke calls Ohio State "Ohio," which means schedules possibly are being frantically re-worked in the Hocking Valley right now... (with videos)
Not many people are giving the Buckeyes (6-5, 3-4) much of a chance in this one. They are riding an eight-game winning streak over UM (seven not counting last year’s contest) but are eight-point underdogs in Vegas.
However, Fickell has a good understanding of the rivalry and knows you can throw the records out when the Scarlet and Gray and the Maize and Blue clash.
"It’s always been a one-game season regardless of the records," Fickell said. "And that’s the thing we reiterated to our guys when they came in on Sunday. It’s a one-game season and that’s what we have to focus on. I think our guys have put everything else behind us. The season it what it is this year, but now it’s all about this week and our guys are excited about that."
Later, Fickell expounded on what "The Game" means to the Buckeyes
"It’s still the Ohio State-Michigan game," he said. "It’s still the greatest rivalry in all of sports and we wouldn’t attack it any other way. That’s how you’re remembered and we understand that. Our guys understand that. Regardless of whatever else is going on – whether it’s my 10 years now as a coach here or my five years as a player – when you come here, you know what it’s about. That’s why I think 70 percent of our guys are from that 250-mile radius and have been born into it and understand what this rivalry is all about better than most." Source: Bucknuts.com
Ohio State (6-5, 3-4 Big Ten) enters Michigan week as up to an 8.5-point underdog, trying to save a winning regular season while the Wolverines (9-2, 5-2) are looking to put themselves in great position to earn their first BCS bowl berth in five seasons. For an Ohio State team that has won seven straight on the field against the Wolverines (though vacating last year's win over NCAA violations), the Buckeyes know this time the expectations rest with Michigan.
"I'm looking forward to it. A bad season -- throw it out the window," senior center Mike Brewster said. "You beat Michigan and people forgive you for some of that. That's how I'm looking at it, and let's get this one."
During Jim Tressel's 10-year tenure, the Buckeyes were underdogs three times and won twice, in 2001 and 2004. According to Pregame.com, since 1980 Michigan has been favored in 18 of 31 games. The Buckeyes have won six of those 18 games as underdogs, and tied another. For the players on this team, though, entering the Michigan game this way is foreign, as much of this season has been.
"It's something we're not used to," freshman linebacker Ryan Shazier said. "Everybody's used to being the big dog. Right now we've just got to go in there strong and get these gold pants."
Ohio State vs. Michigan: Roles reverse again in rivalry November 22, 2011 Source: Columbus Dispatch - Improved Wolverines now favored, and Buckeyes are struggling... Not since 2004 has Ohio State been an underdog to Michigan. Not since 2003 have the Buckeyes lost to their archrival...
Buckeyes, Wolverines have switched places November 20, 2011 Source: The News Herald - Ohio State has won an unprecedented seven straight in the storied series, dominating its archrival during the Rich Rodriguez era and the end of Lloyd Carr's career. A scandal has changed the story. Jim Tressel was forced to resign nearly six months ago, Terrelle Pryor bolted for the NFL and current players served suspensions that have led to a lot of losses for the Buckeyes. Beating the Wolverines, though, would heal some wounds. "I don't know if Woody Hayes said it, somebody said it, ‘We can lose every game but as long as we beat Michigan that's all that counts,' " Ohio State linebacker Ryan Shazier said. "I know it's a really big game that can turn the season around." Michigan, meanwhile, would have its bounce-back season spoiled if it gets upset...
The Joke's on Hoke - This Year's Game Not Pivotal for Rivalry November 21, 2011 Source: The Ozone - One of the most unusual Ohio State football regular seasons in memory will end Saturday with the Buckeyes in an unusual position – out of the Big Ten title race, and a big underdog to archrival Michigan. It also has the Buckeyes in an incredibly rare spot; playing the Wolverines with almost nothing to lose. Sure, a loss would cost OSU fans a chance to watch the "Days Since Michigan’s last win over OSU" ticker roll past 3,000. Some third graders in Ohio would learn for the first time in their lifetimes that a Buckeye win over Michigan isn’t quite as automatic an autumn event as the changing of the leaves. It would also help salvage the way this season is remembered years or decades from now. But in the more immediate future, Saturday’s result won’t meaningfully change the Buckeyes’ bowl destination one way or the other. It likely won’t change who’s in charge of the program next season, and contrary to the wishful thinking of many fans up north, it won’t meaningfully change the tide of the rivalry, either...
The Buckeyes and the Wolverines will meet for the 108th time Saturday at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Mich., in a 12 noon game that will
be televised nationally by ABC. Ohio State is 6-5 overall and 3-4 in the Big Ten Conference Leaders Division. Michigan is 9-2 overall and 5-2 in the
While Michigan holds the overall lead in the series against Ohio State with 57 wins against 43 losses and six ties, Ohio State has won six consecutive games over Michigan. And over the last 60 years, dating to the 1951 season and the first year of coach Woody Hayes’ 28-year run as head
coach, Ohio State actually leads the series 31-26-2 with one win vacated by Ohio State. (Note: Ohio State’s 2010 victory over UM in Columbus, 37-7, was vacated. All series records, streaks, etc., in this release do not include the result of the 2010 game).
Ohio State is 20-30-4 vs. Michigan in Ann Arbor and 23-27-2 in games played in Columbus...
This week's captains: Dan Herron, Andrew Sweat and Tyler Moeller
Across The Web: THE GAME November 25, 2011 Source: The Buckeye Battle Cry - What’s your favorite memory of The Game? On the other end of the spectrum, what play or game gives you nightmares?...Many Ohio State fans are frustrated by our current Athletic Department’s decision to commercialize football and basketball games. With M*ch*g*n making similar decisions regarding "special" uniforms and weddings at the Big House, are you concerned that some of the "soul" of gameday experience is being compromised?...
OHIO STATE AT MICHIGAN Source: Big Ten Network WHY YOU SHOULD WATCH: Do you really need a reason? It’s Ohio State-Michigan, one of the nation’s most iconic rivalries. This year’s meeting drips with intrigue, as the Wolverines are trying to end the Buckeyes’ seven-season winning skein in this storied rivalry. A Michigan triumph not only would stop the bleeding for the Wolverines, but it also will enhance the team’s chances in its bid to earn a BCS at-large bowl slot.
KEEP AN EYE ON: Ohio State QB Braxton Miller. Like any true freshman, Miller has been up and down. He ranks sixth in the conference in passing efficiency, hitting 53 percent of his attempts for 762 yards with nine touchdowns and three picks. But he paces the Buckeyes with 595 yards rushing. Miller needs to hit just enough passes to keep a surging Michigan defense honest. The problem: Miller is struggling. He has completed less than half his passes in each of the last three games (20-of-46 for 270 yards with three touchdowns and a pick), as the Buckeyes have gone 1-2 to see their division title hopes vanish.
KEY MATCHUP: Michigan run game vs. the Ohio State front seven. The Wolverine ground game is strong with QB Denard Robinson at the controls. But it’s even stronger when RB Fitzgerald Toussaint is clicking, as he was in running for 138 yards last week vs. Nebraska. A strong Buckeye front seven must contain Toussaint, putting the rushing burden on Robinson and then hitting him as early and often as possible. In the loss to Penn State, the Buckeyes could not stop the rush, as the Nits ran for 239 yards.
KEY NOTE: Robinson has passed former Texas star signal-caller Vince Young on the all-time NCAA quarterback rushing list, and needs just seven yards to reach 1,000 yards for a second consecutive season.
Preview: Ohio State vs. Michigan November 26, 2011 Source: Associated Press - Key matchup: Ohio State QB Braxton Miller vs. Michigan defense. The freshman has failed to connect on half of his passes in three straight games and is connecting on 48.6 percent overall this season. If the Buckeyes are going to pull off an upset, Miller will likely have to be accurate on his throws and surpass his career high of 132 yards passing. Michigan, of course, will want to rattle Miller with pressure from its front seven and make plays in the secondary...
Hatin’, 2011: That Team Up North November 25, 2011 Source: Our Honor Defend - That Team Up North’s Defense: Has Greg Mattison put the B1G TEN on notice? I think so. I knew he’d be great; I just didn’t anticipate him being a miracle worker. In spite of retaining much of the same talent as his predecessor, Mattison has turned the 110th ranked total defense from last year into the 14th ranked total defense of this year. It almost cost him the game against Notre Dame when the Irish got what it thought would be the game-winning touchdown, but that play call on defense — the one that assumed he still had Ed Reed when, in fact, he had Jordan Kovacs — lets me know he’s going to be a terror in the future. Once he gets the personnel he wants? Oh dear. And don’t underestimate how easy it will be to recruit kids for that scheme. What makes the turnaround for the Wolvereenies that much more miraculous is that it’s still a team without linebackers and with a meek secondary...
2011 TSUN Wolverines Game Preview November 24, 2011 Source: ESPN - The Wolverines enter this contest looking for a third consecutive victory after pounding then-No. 17 Nebraska 45-17 last Saturday. Denard Robinson threw for two touchdowns and rushed for two more. Robinson, however, is just 10 for 22 for 90 yards and no TDs through the air in two games versus Ohio State. He did rush 18 times for 108 yards in last season's 37-7 loss at Columbus. Running back Fitz Toussaint ran four times for 16 yards against the Buckeyes in 2010, but is a more prominent part of the Wolverines offense this season. The sophomore has rushed for 558 yards with five TDs on 92 carries over the last four games, including 138 on 29 rushes and two scores versus Nebraska. During that victory, Michigan fans began chanting "BEAT O-HI-O! BEAT O-HI-O!" "It's exciting," Hoke said of that moment. What Hoke should be excited about is his improving defense that has allowed 17 or fewer points in three of the last four games. Hoke hopes the Wolverines can continue their strong defensive play against an Ohio State squad that is looking to avoid its first three-game losing streak since 2004...
Wolverines will be a TD better than Buckeyes, predicts Doug Lesmerises Source: Cleveland Plain Dealer
2011 TSUN Wolverines Game Preview November 24, 2011 Source: Buckeye Planet - If the Buckeyes are going to beat the Wolverines to salvage their season, they are going to have to stop an offense that enters the game rated in the top 35 nationally (434.5 YPG/ T33). Despite the Pro-Style background of Head Coach Brady Hoke, it is probably still not surprising given their personnel that Michigan have been more effective running the ball this year, ranking 12th at 236.1 yards per game. The passing game hasn't been good, but it hasn't been awful moving the ball (211.7 YPG, T86). Where the Wolverines have struggled is throwing INTs (15, T7 most in the country) and in general pass accuracy (52.6% completions, 106th nationally). Given Robinson's mobility, it is not surprising that they haven't given up too many sacks (14). At 33.6 points per game, Michigan has scored plenty of points to keep them in games over the course of the season (26th nationally). The Wolverines have mixed numbers when it comes to moving the chains, as they have a relatively low number of first downs on the year (219, 63rd) but have been able to move the chains respectably on third down (44.2%, T22). All in all, the Wolverine offense has been relatively good on the year, despite being turnover prone, and because of the number of big plays they make, they can pile up points in a hurry. It will be incumbent on the Buckeyes to get pressure on Robinson early and get him out of rhythm. If they can force him to scramble and create some turnovers, they can reproduce the last 2 games against him, where they controlled the field for significant portions of the game. However if Robinson gets going early and is able to hit a couple of downfield throws, then the long losing streak to the Buckeyes might finally come to an end...
Ohio State at Michigan November 22, 2011 Source: CBSSports.com - Michigan (9-2, 5-2) has been outscored 218-108 while losing seven in a row against Ohio State dating to a 35-21 home win over the Buckeyes on Nov. 22, 2003. The Wolverines, however, have been reborn under first-year coach Brady Hoke and remain in the mix for a BCS bowl game. Their resurgence combined with Ohio State's issues on and off the field, open the door for the tide to turn in the series. "This is a special week because you play in the greatest rivalry there is in sport," Hoke said. "When you get the chance to play or coach in this game, it's always a fun week."...
Week 13 Preview - Ohio State at Michigan November 23, 2011 Source: CollegeFootballNews.com - Why Ohio State Might Win: How, exactly, did a mediocre Iowa team pull off a win over a Michigan team that’s good enough to bounceback and blow Nebraska out of the water? The Hawkeyes pounded away up front, and defensively they forced Denard Robinson into a pocket passer. Ohio State can do both. The Wolverines did a good job against Nebraska’s ground game, but the Husker O line is more of a finesse group than one that powers away – at least against everyone but Ohio State. The Buckeyes have to get mean and nasty from the start, and they have to get their backs in space right away. Michigan only turned it over once against Nebraska, but OSU can count on at least one pick. The Wolverines have thrown 15 interceptions on the year with nine in the last six games to go along with three fumbles in the last three weeks. The OSU defense doesn’t force fumbles, with only one taken away in the last six games, but the secondary has stepped up with three picks and allowed just one touchdown pass in the last three games...What Will Happen: It’ll be a cathartic moment for the Michigan program. The offense will start clicking from the start with Robinson and running back Fitzgerald Toussaint tearing off a few big early runs on the way to early scoring drives. Ohio State will have to try to throw, and Miller will connect with Posey on a home run to make it interesting, but it won’t be nearly enough. CFN Prediction: Michigan 34 … Ohio State 14...
Ohio State vs. Michigan November 24, 2011 Source: The Ozone - The Wolverines are averaging 231.9 yards rushing per game, and that's where their offense will start on Saturday. Unlike last season, however, they get their rushing from more than just quarterback Denard Robinson. To his credit, Robinson has amassed 947 yards rushing on the season, but of late it's been tailback Fitzgerald Toussaint who has carried the Michigan running game. He's averaging 139.5 yards rushing per game over the Wolverines last four games and has carried the ball 92 times in that span. His cutback ability will be an issue all game long for the Ohio State linebackers, as well as the safeties who gradually approach the line of scrimmage. Missed tackles cannot be tolerated against the runners that Michigan will put on the field...
Michigan-Ohio State football preview capsule November 24, 2011 Source: Detroit Free Press - Michigan has a chance to win 10 games for the first time since 2006, when it won 11 games before losing to Ohio State in the season finale and then falling to USC in the Rose Bowl. ... The Buckeyes have lost their Big Ten games by an average of 4.7 points. ... The Wolverines have given up 15.6 points a game, ranking among the nation’s best, after allowing 35.2 on average last season to rank among the worst defenses in college football...
OHIO STATE at NO. 15 MICHIGAN November 22, 2011 Source: ESPN - Brian Bennett: The streak ends. These two teams are trending in vastly different directions, and Ohio State's offense does not match up well with a Michigan defense that's playing lights out right now. The Wolverines get off to a quick start behind two Denard Robinson touchdowns and start dreaming about the Sugar Bowl. ... Michigan 24, Ohio State 14
Adam Rittenberg: Sorry, Luke Fickell, but it is about talent, and Michigan, for the first time in a while, has more this season. It's also about motivation and the Wolverines seniors want this game real bad after being embarrassed against their archrival. Mike Martin and Ryan Van Bergen lead a strong defensive effort and Fitzgerald Toussaint turns in another 100-yard rushing performance. ... Michigan 27, Ohio State 13
Preview: Ohio State at #17 Michigan November 25, 2011 Source: Eleven Warriors - The defense remains as confusing as ever. Despite worries that he might not play, Hankins looked deep within himself and managed to perform pretty well against Penn State. The loss of Sweat hurts, but really it's going to be younger guys like DT Joel Hale and LB Ryan Shazier who will have to be on point and stick to their assignments in an effort to shut down the Michigan running game. The secondary still concerns me. When in zone, they still seem perplexed by who has what assignments, and their third and long defense has somehow gotten even worse. Man coverage is probably the best move here, but then you run the risk of getting eaten alive if the defensive line can't hold its ground. Because of this, the defensive line must dictate the flow of the game. Rotate Simon around until he finds a weak spot, line up Hankins at end, blitz Bryant a billion times it doesn't matter. Just do whatever needs to be done so that OSU lives up to its billing as the 17th ranked defense in the country from the first snap, and not after halftime...
Ohio State will be looking for their eighth straight win over Michigan when they travel to Ann Arbor to take on the Wolverines. Spencer Tillman joins Jason Horowitz to break down this intense Big Ten rivalry. Source: CBSSports.com
Ohio State faces improved rival in Michigan November 25, 2011 Source: Detroit Free Press - Inexperienced OSU hopes confidence, energy will be enough to stop Robinson. Ohio State junior defensive tackle John Simon can see it in Denard Robinson's demeanor -- before he has a chance to make a play, even before his hands touch the ball. Ask for the difference between Michigan's dual-threat quarterback this season compared to a year ago, Simon offers one word: "maturity. He makes smart decisions," Simon said. "He doesn't give up the ball very easily."...
Toussaint and Robinson could both pass 1,000 yard mark against stout Buckeye defense November 24, 2011 Source: MichiganDaily.com - Do you think Michigan coach Brady Hoke knows The Game is won and lost on the ground? "Always," Hoke said. "Always — how you play up front on both sides of the ball. I told the kids, and they get tired of listening to me about it, but it’s like that in every game."...History says the Buckeyes should be able to stop the run, but they’ve had mixed results this season, allowing 130 yards per game. They were able to bottle up Michigan State’s Le’Veon Bell and Wisconsin’s Montee Ball, holding those two to reasonable totals. But Nesbraska’s two-headed monster of Taylor Martinez and Rex Burkhead combined for 221 yards. And Penn State’s stable of backs also topped 200 yards...
Michigan pass offense vs. Ohio State pass defense: Michigan junior quarterback Denard Robinson bounced back from consecutive poor outings with an 11-for-18, 180-yard passing day in the Wolverines’ 45-17 shellacking of No. 17 Nebraska last Saturday. But the passing game is still a work in progress, and the Buckeyes' secondary is no liability. Ohio State has registered 12 interceptions this season — five more than Michigan — and is led by redshirt junior safety Orhian Johnson and promising first-year cornerback Bradley Roby, who both have three interceptions. And Robinson is an interception machine, as he's thrown 14 picks on the season. Edge: Ohio State
Michigan rush offense vs. Ohio State rush offense: The emergence of redshirt sophomore running back Fitzgerald Toussaint to complement Robinson in the running game has given the Wolverines one of the most dangerous backfields in the nation. Robinson is seven yards from breaking the 1,000-yard mark this season, and Toussaint is 102 yards behind. Commanding the bulk of Michigan’s carries in the past four games, Toussaint has gained on 550 yards and five touchdowns on 93 carries in that time. Staring the running back down from across the line of scrimmage will be stud Buckeye defensive linemen John Simon and Jonathan Hankins. The pair anchors the Big Ten’s fifth-leading rush defense, which is allowing just 130 rushing yards per game. Still, Ohio State’s only chance to stop the two threats in Michigan’s backfield is to plug the holes in the middle and contain the outside. With Michigan’s veteran offensive line, that’s a stretch for any defense. Edge: Michigan
Ohio State pass offense vs. Michigan pass defense: Last season, Buckeye quarterback Terrelle Pryor had no problem embarrassing the Wolverines’ notoriously awful secondary. Pryor ran for 63 yards and added another 220 yards and two touchdowns through the air on 18-of-27 passing. But what difference a year makes. Pryor is in the NFL, replaced by true-freshman quarterback Braxton Miller. Miller took the starting job away from Joe Bauserman early this season, but he hasn’t impressed in the passing game. In 10 games, the mobile freshman has not eclipsed 19 passing attempts, with his completion percentage wavering dangerously at 48.6 percent. The Michigan secondary isn’t embarrassing itself anymore, either. The nation’s 14th-best passing defense is allowing just 184.3 yards per game, though Miller won’t likely test it much. Edge: Michigan
Ohio State rush offense vs. Michigan rush defense: This Michigan-Ohio State battle will be won on the ground. If Michigan’s Robinson and Toussaint have their way with the Buckeye defense, it could be a blowout in the Big House. But if Miller and running back Dan "Boom" Herron can break the Wolverines defensive front, it’s a toss-up. Herron was suspended early in the season and will only be playing in his sixth game of the season, but is averaging 111.8 yards per game since his return. The Wolverine defense has certainly turned a corner, and its ability to stop the ground game is a key component of the unit’s success. After struggling against quality backs early in the season, Michigan held Illinois to 37 rushing yards two weeks ago and Nebraska’s Rex Burkhead to a season-low 36 rushing yards last Saturday. Edge: Push
Special teams: Ohio State sophomore Drew Basil is money. He’s 13-for-16 on field goals for the season, but has missed just two from inside 50 yards. Safe to say there has been no drop-off after losing Devin Barclay last season. Redshirt sophomore kicker Brendan Gibbons can’t quite stand up to Basil’s mark, but his 9-for-13 is certainly an upgrade from last season. Michigan redeems itself on special teams by collecting three turnovers in the last two games on kickoffs and punts. Edge: Ohio State
Intangibles: Considering the Buckeyes’ seven-year winning streak over Michigan, giving the Wolverines the nod isn’t easy. But it’s happening. Michigan coach Brady Hoke and Co. are world-beaters at home, with a record of 7-0 and outscoring teams 267-65. Add that it’s the final appearance at the Big House for the embattled Michigan seniors, and there’s both emotion and momentum on the Wolverines’ side. Chalk this one up for the Wolverines. Edge: Michigan
Final Score: Michigan 24, Ohio State 10
Borges eyes turnover margin November 23, 2011 Source: ESPN - Denard Robinson has thrown 14 interceptions, already a career high... Michigan offensive coordinator Al Borges doesn't care about most statistics. But, there is one he puts stock in. "If you can take care of the ball and get more turnovers than you give up, you've got a great chance to win," Borges said. "It's one of those statistics that's relevant to winning." This season the Wolverines have put a focus on winning the turnover battle, and it has paid off, securing Michigan a plus-6 turnover margin. It's a huge improvement. The Wolverines ended the 2010 season with a minus-10 turnover margin, and they finished with a minus-12 turnover margin in 2009....
"I know there are a lot of Ohio fans who say they are the Ohio State University, (but) I think there’s a lot of schools in Ohio, so why are they the Ohio State University? I call them Ohio. That’s what Coach calls them." - Ryan Van Bergen, Michigan senior defensive end
This will be the 18th time that Michigan and Ohio State have played after Thanksgiving. U-M has compiled an 8-8-1
record against OSU after Thanksgiving.
The Wolverines have out-scored their opponents 298-109 from the second quarter on and 190-77 in the second half.
Michigan’s defense has not allowed more than 16 1st downs in the last five games, and has allowed 16 or fewer first
downs in six of seven Big Ten games, tops in Big Ten-only play.
In Big Ten play, U-M ranks 2nd in point differential (+121) and has allowed the 2nd-fewest points (121 points) and scored the 2nd-most points (242 points).
U-M has held Big Ten opponents to 26 of 91 (28.6%) third-down conversions.
After allowing 35.2 points per game in 2010, Michigan’s defense is allowing 15.6 points per game through 11 games in 2011, ranking 2nd in the Big Ten and 6th in the nation.
U-M has improved from 108th in total defense in 2010 (447.9ypg) to 14th in 2011, allowing 312.6 yards per game. U-M has
forced 26 turnovers in 2011, including multiple turnovers in nine of 11 games. The Wolverines’ 26 turnovers rank 1st in the Big Ten and tied for 11th in the FBS. Michigan ranks 2nd in the nation in red zone defense (21-32, 66%)...
Michigan's Denard Robinson seeking rematch with Ohio State, but as a different quarterback November 24, 2011 Source: AnnArbor.com - Denard Robinson says he's watched the Michigan-Ohio State game for years. Not long enough, however, to have seen the Michigan football team win it. Ever. The junior quarterback, who was a seventh-grader at Deerfield Beach Middle School the last the time the Wolverines beat the Buckeyes, does remember walking off the field last year after falling 37-7 in Columbus. "Everybody hates that taste in their mouth," Robinson said this week. "We still got that taste in our mouth. We want to change that."...
Denard Robinson plans to snack on Ohio State November 22, 2011 Source: Detroit Free Press - Michigan junior quarterback Denard Robinson has gorged himself in his past two games against Illinois and Nebraska. After a touchdown against Illinois two weeks ago, Robinson brought his hand to his mouth in an eating motion, as if he were scooping up food with a spoon. He has feasted during touchdown celebrations ever since. He's out for dessert against Ohio State on Saturday. "This program is starving for a while," Robinson said. "It's time for us to make something happen this year."...