2012 College Football Odds and Picks: Michigan @ Ohio State Vegas Odds and Predictions – Free College Football Picks 11/24/2012: One of the biggest rivalries in sport will add another chapter this weekend when the fourth-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes (11-0, 7-0 Big Ten) host the 19th-ranked Michigan Wolverines (8-3, 6-1 Big Ten). For OSU, a victory would secure an undefeated regular season and keep the Buckeyes in the thick of the AP national title hunt. Meanwhile, the Wolverines can not only ruin Ohio State’s perfect season, but they can keep their own hopes of a conference title alive. With a win Saturday and a Nebraska loss, the Wolverines can clinch the Legends Division and play in the Big Ten title game with a BCS bid up for grabs. In the always-heated rivalry, the Buckeyes are 3 ½-point favorites in Columbus.
These teams are really mirror images of each other on both sides of the ball. Both offenses rely heavily on the run, and both revolve around dual-threat quarterbacks. The Buckeyes are led by Heisman candidate Braxton Miller, and the Wolverines are using converted receiver Devin Gardner under center while Denard Robinson recovers from injury. Robinson instead will be splitting time between running back and probably a few other positions. Overall, the Ohio State offense has been the more effective of the two, ranking in the top 10 in rushing and in the top 20 in scoring.
Defensively, both teams have had their ups and downs. Michigan has been the more consistent of the two units, allowing less than 20 points per game. However, they have had issues stopping the run at times. Meanwhile, the Buckeyes have been gashed at times, allowing 49 points to Indiana and 38 points to Nebraska. On the flip side, the locked down Wisconsin and Michigan State on the road.
The Wolverines Win If:
Regardless of how Michigan deploys Gardner and Robinson Saturday, minimizing turnovers will be crucial for the Wolverines’ offense. The Ohio State offense has been piling up points, and giving the Buckeyes a short field and extra possessions will be a death sentence. Defensively, Michigan needs to limit the big plays Miller makes both with his arm and his legs. Despite the gaudy offensive numbers, the Buckeyes have had issues consistently moving the ball up and down the field. If the Wolverines can limit their turnovers and limit the big plays of the Ohio State, they can take this rivalry game for the second year in a row.
The Buckeyes Win If:
With the revolving roles of Gardner and Robinson, the Ohio State defense will have to be ready for anything. The last thing the Buckeyes want is for the Wolverines to start hitting a bunch of big plays and getting drawn into an offensive shootout. If OSU can instead make this game about which offense can execute better, the combination of Miller and Hyde behind an ever-improving offensive line should give them an edge. Michigan will likely come out swinging in an attempt to take the crowd out of the game, but if the Buckeyes can weather the early storm, they have the offensive firepower to take advantage of a suspect Michigan defense and keep their undefeated season intact.
This is the exact opposite scenario that most people expected when the college football season began. The Wolverines were supposed to be in contention for a national title while the Buckeyes were supposed to view the matchup as their postseason in light of their postseason ban. Instead, it is Ohio State looking at a perfect season and a possible AP national title while Miller is looking at a potential Heisman Trophy run. Yes, Michigan still has a shot at winning its division and playing for the conference crown, but this game is really about the Wolverines upsetting their rival and ruining OSU’s title chances. There isn’t really a better motivating factor than that, and Michigan will ride its duo of versatile playmakers to outscore the Buckeyes in Columbus.
Prediction: Michigan State Wolverines (+3 ½) Cover the Spread
Michigan @ Ohio State Vegas Odds and Total
Line: Ohio St -4
Total: Over/Under 54
Television: 12 PM EST on ABC
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