For every Michigan football fan the world over, the biggest game of the year has arrived. End the losing streak against the enemy. WIN. THE. GAME.
Well, folks, this is what we have all been waiting for. It’s game week. Not just any game week, THE GAME week.
The most storied rivalry in all of sports is where it rightfully belongs. Back in Ann Arbor, Michigan with everything on the line for both teams.
Don’t listen to the national narrative putting Ohio State on the golden throne after dismantling the (literal) worst passing defense in college football last week. Michigan State had that coming, and it finally caught up to them.
We are all aware of Ohio State’s dominance in this series — that goes without saying. But this year’s Buckeyes, well, they have flaws.
Flaws that for once feels like Michigan football actually can take advantage of. And for once where it feels like our beloved Maize n’ Blue has a puncher’s chance at pulling off.
What do the Wolverines need to do to win this game? Do they really have as good of a shot as I’m laying it out to be?
Our final regular-season edition of “3 Keys” answers those questions for us.
Let’s get into it.
First Key: Keep them between the 20s
For Michigan to win, they have to keep them out of the end-zone despite giving up big plays. That’s why keeping them between the 20-yard lines is so crucial to winning.
Ohio State is going to “get theirs” so to speak on offense. They will still hit big plays and be explosive. There’s no doubt about that.
Inevitably when the Buckeyes hit on a big play it cannot result in a touchdown. When they get in the red zone they have to be held to field goals, not touchdowns.
Penn State and Nebraska followed that model. It nearly worked for both of them as well.
The Nittany Lions did lose 33-23, and they did surrender 305 yards through the air. But they held the Buckeyes to field goals four out of the seven times they were in scoring position. The Cornhuskers performed even better in regards to their defense.
Despite losing by the same margin as did Penn State (9), Nebraska held them to 4 field goals (the same as Penn State) but also only surrendered 2 touchdowns. The commonality?
Both these teams were in it until the VERY end of the game.
Despite them surrendering a combined 710 yards through the air, they held their ground when it was scoring time. Michigan football has an opportunity to do the same as those two teams — even better.
The Wolverines rank better in nearly all defensive categories than the Cornhuskers and the Nittany Lions. And while that doesn’t guarantee that Michigan gets a win, it does bode well for the Wolverines’ chances.
Let them eat up all the yards they want, but when it comes down to the red zone it’s simple.
Keep them out.