No. 2 Ohio State at No. 3 Michigan: Preview, Props and Prediction

Field Level Media

November 22, 2023 at 8:19 pm.

Thirteen weeks into the regular season, our first College Football Playoff knockout match arrives with a spot in the Big Ten championship game on the line.

This epic Buckeyes-Wolverines rivarly serves as a virtual CFP play-in game given the likelihood of a victory next week against Iowa.

An unbeaten Big Ten champ would not be denied a final four position. A one-loss division runner-up might sweat it out on bowl selection Sunday.

There is no shortage of storylines in “The Game.”

The dueling quarterbacks aren’t elite, and the talented pass rushers are likely to cause problems.

Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh is serving the last of a three-game suspension, having been sidelined by the Big Ten because of the sign-stealing scheme organized by former recruiting analyst Connor Stalions.

Harbaugh is allowed to coach and prepare the team during the week, but offensive coordinator Sherrone Moore is the acting head coach on game day, as he was for wins over Penn State and Maryland.

Has Moore shown enough tendencies to help the Ohio State coaching staff game planning process? And which of the top playmakers figure to have game-changing performances?

We have stats, news, quotes and betting predictions for our college football (betting) game of the week.

–Kickoff: noon ET
–Television: Fox
–Location: Michigan Stadium, Ann Arbor, Mich.
–Point Spread, Total: Michigan -3.5; Total 46.5 (BetMGM)


Michigan is pursuing a third consecutive win over Ohio State, and the home field can’t hurt.

But pass protection could be a problem for the Wolverines. Not only are Michigan’s offensive tackles on the shaky side, the Buckeyes defense is among the nation’s best. Recent trends show Michigan trying to run the ball – a lot – avoiding the idea of trusting quarterback JJ McCarthy too much.

That conservative approach is likely to be mirrored by Ohio State, whose quarterback, Kyle McCord, isn’t as established.

At midweek, FanDuel reported the Buckeyes were garnering the majority of total bets as well as overall handle for the moneyline and against the spread (ATS).
This season, Ohio State holds an edge ATS, 7-3-1 vs. 5-5-1 for Michigan.

McCarthy has struggled completing only 19 passes in 31 attempts (with no touchdowns) since Harbaugh left the sideline.

Ohio State defensive lineman Tyleik Williams has 10 sacks in 2023 while linebacker Tommy Eichenberg paces the team in activity at 8.1 tackles per game.

Both defenses, as mentioned, have been shutdown champs against their inferior Big Ten opponents.

So is the best playmaker Michigan running back Blake Corum or Ohio State wide receiver Marvin Harrison Jr.?

Harrison is the more problematic for the Wolverines defense, and he will make just enough key plays (including a backbreaking third-down conversion or two … or more).

We like the first-half under (22.5) as an additional possibility, but the game should open up in the second half as Michigan sees its running game minimalized.

The pick: Ohio State 28, Michigan 24

The bet: Parlay at +125 (BetMGM), teasing Ohio State to +7.5 with a teased over 40.5.


Harbaugh’s stand-in, Sherrone Moore, realizes the gravity of the rivalry.

“We all know what it means,” he said. “It’s The Game. It’s the one you practice, you play for, you work for all year. So, we all know the stakes. And that would give us a chance to go to repeat our Big Ten title.”

The Wolverines (11-0, 8-0 Big Ten) seek their third straight win against the Buckeyes for the first time since 1995-97.

“We are in a position to be in position. That’s what we know,” Harbaugh said. “(We’re) 11-0, they’re 11-0. Everything, all focus and preparation, is on this game — as it should be.”

The Buckeyes (11-0, 8-0) are out for revenge after dominating The Game for years. They won eight in a row from 2012-19 before the COVID-19 pandemic forced cancellation of the 2020 game.

Since then, the Wolverines won 42-27 at home in 2021 and 45-23 last season in Columbus.

“There are guys with scars, and I’m one of them,” Ohio State coach Ryan Day said Tuesday. “It just drives you every day to work harder and make sure you do everything possible to win the game.”

The Wolverines are first nationally in scoring defense (9.0) and total defense (234.8 yards per game).

The Buckeyes are second in scoring defense (9.3) and third in total defense (252.9).


“They’re going to provide a challenge, but we’re always up for a challenge. They’re fundamentally sound. They play good as a unit and they fly around, so I think it will be a good game. We just have to have a good week of preparation and prepare for a top defense.” –Michigan running back Blake Corum

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