The Path to “The Game”: Michigan & Ohio State’s Rest of Season
As we get deeper into the college football season and closer to December, we’re starting to get our first look at what teams will make the college football playoff bracket.
Inevitably, there will be representatives from the SEC and the Big Ten. The real question within that is how many teams from those conferences will be in the final 4 brackets. We’ve all seen those seasons of college football where SEC teams are playing rematches from the regular season in the college football playoffs.
Week 2 of the CFP rankings just came out. Right now, instead of two SEC teams sitting in the playoffs, there are two Big Ten teams: Ohio State & Michigan. Both teams are currently undefeated and on a crash course to meet at “The Game” on November 26th.
Let’s take a look at the path that each of those teams will take to November 26th.
Michigan: A Potential Landmine Before November 26th
Jim Harbaugh-led Michigan is undefeated going into their match-up this week vs Nebraska. Michigan has built its success this year around running and defense.
The Wolverines lead the Big Ten in rushing, averaging almost 6 yards per rushing attempt. Blake Corum is the featured running back for the Wolverines, and he’s having a Heisman-type season. He’s rushed for 1187 yards and 17 total touchdowns (16 rushing, 1 passing).
The Wolverines’ defense gives up the 2nd fewest points in the Big Ten. Their passing game is ranked in the middle of Big Ten teams, so it’s imperative that their defense & running formula works. They’re not the kind of team that wants to get into a shootout.
Their path to November 26th is a bit more challenging than the Buckeyes. Both games before Ohio State are at home, but their game vs Illinois could be a tough one. The Fighting Illini have had one of their most successful seasons in a long time, and much of it is bolstered by their league-leading defensive unit. It will certainly be a battle of styles on November 21st in Michigan Stadium.
Ohio State: Smooth Sailing to Ohio Stadium
Ohio State’s path to November 26th is pretty smooth. They play Indiana at home and go to Maryland to play the Terrapins.
The Buckeyes do not look like they’re slowing down in any way. Led by Heisman candidate C.J. Stroud, they have the highest-scoring offense in the Big Ten and one of the top 5 defenses in total points allowed.
Given their success this year, I would expect that Ohio State should open as at least a touchdown favorite vs the Wolverines.
“The Game” is a De Facto Playoff Game
As it sits now, I expect that the winner of “The Game” on November 26th will be guaranteed a spot in the College Football Playoff. I do not expect that both teams will make it into the playoff, and the loser will wind up going to the Citrus Bowl on New Year’s Day.
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