Saturday, November 17, 2007

OSU/Michigan liveblogging pregame

By Rick Morris

We will have liveblogging coverage of the Big Game today in Ann Arbor. Here's the keys to the game for each team:

For Ohio State:

^ Avoid turnovers. The best hope for the underdog in this game is to replicate the damaging turnovers Illinois inflicted on Ohio State last week.

^ Work Brandon Saine into the offense. For all the talk about spicing up the game with Ted Ginn Jr. prototype Ray Small, screen passes to Saine would work even better because they would be so out of character for the Buckeyes. My FDH partner Jason Jones has been screaming for this element all year long, rightfully so.

^ Get Malcolm Jenkins back playing at the level of his potential. He's had a tough November and is facing a hot Mario Manningham, perhaps the best wide receiver in the country. If he has a "Shawn Springs circa 1996 moment" against the Wolverines, his team may not survive.

For Michigan:

^ Have "healthy quality" play from Chad Henne and Mike Hart. If these two play up to the level they did last year, Michigan could well win. Last year, both offenses achieved near-perfect balance, keeping the defenses on their heels the whole way. Ohio State is likely to play a well-balanced offensive game; Michigan must do the same.

^ Channel the emotion of what's likely to be Lloyd Carr's last OSU/Michigan game. 20 years ago, a less talented Buckeye team went into Ann Arbor and shocked their archrivals in Earle Bruce's last game at the helm. Today, a lesser team on paper (especially defense) looks to do the same.

The prediction? With a Rose Bowl berth at stake, an Ohio State team that has been better prepared and usually more talented since 2001 does what it did last year -- match a raised level of play from Michigan and prevail on ability. The Buckeyes go to Pasadena with a 26-20 win.

No comments: