College football has reached the final week of the regular season and with the number of storylines happening across the country, this week will surely be exciting for everyone. The two biggest games of the week include Alabama visiting Auburn in the Iron bowl and Ohio State traveling to Ann Arbor to face Michigan in “The Game”. ESPN’s College Game Day will broadcast live from the Iron Bowl as the winner of that matchup will face Georgia in the SEC championship game.
While Ohio State has already clinched the Big Ten East, securing their spot to face Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship game on December, anything can happen during rivalry week. A blowout win by Ohio State could be the icing on the cake for their resume to show the committee that they are contenders. However, a loss to Michigan will not help the Buckeyes’ playoff hopes.
According to ESPN.com, Ohio State has an 80.1% chance of being victorious over the Wolverines. Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett will look to pad his stats on his record-setting career in Columbus. On the season, Barrett has completed 214 of 320 pass attempts, totaling 2698 yards, 32 passing touchdowns and only throwing seven interceptions. Barrett has also rushed for a total of 605 yards on the season while scoring eight touchdowns with his feet. For anyone that has watched Ohio State this season Barrett’s passing numbers are impressive given the lack of receiving targets he’s had available to him. Ohio State’s leading receiver for 2017 is Parris Campbell who has accrued 35 receptions for 518 yards and two touchdowns.
The rushing game from Ohio State has been the surprise factor this season. It was understood that the up-tempo offensive play calling of offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson would include Barrett airing the ball out more. However, no matter how many attempts there have been, the running game has been the saving grace of the Buckeyes’ offense. Freshman running back J.K. Dobbins has been the surprise breakout star for the 2017 season. Dobbins started the first game of the season against Indiana, taking the place of an injured Mike Weber. In that first game of the season, Dobbins rushed for 181 yards on 29 attempts. That was only the beginning as Dobbins has acquired 1089 yards so far on the season on 149 carries, scoring six rushing touchdowns.
Ohio State cannot take Michigan lightly as anything can happen in these big rivalry games, the first example being Ohio State’s comeback against Penn State followed by a blowout loss to Iowa the following week. The question being asked is which Ohio State team will show up on Saturday? Will Buckeye fans be able to celebrate victory over Michigan as they have grown accustomed to for most of the last 17 seasons? Or will Harbaugh finally figure out how to beat the Buckeyes? Saturday’s 114th meeting of “The Game” will give us the answer.
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