Ohio State vs Michigan Odds, Predictions | The Rivalry Spread to Bet
Getty Images. Pictured (left to right): Ohio State quarterback CJ Stroud and Michigan quarterback JJ McCarthy.
Ohio State vs Michigan Odds
|Ohio State Odds
-115o / -105u
-115o / -105u
The message from Jim Harbaugh at Big Ten Media days was clear. Fresh off an appearance in the College Football Playoff, the Michigan head coach stated his three goals: Beat Michigan State, beat Ohio State, win the Big Ten and win the national title.
The Wolverines were successful in their quest to avenge Michigan State, but they now find familiar territory as touchdown underdogs to Ohio State at the Horseshoe. This comes one year after they beat Ohio State for the first time in the College Football Playoff era.
The Buckeyes have put together the quietest undefeated season in recent history, as only four games have been decided within two touchdowns. Ohio State has never trailed in the fourth quarter of any game, as the wins have been piled on with points.
Head coach Ryan Day has directed an offense that has scored 40 points in all but two games.
With a Heisman contender at quarterback and a retooled defense, the Buckeyes are looking to seal their spot in the Big Ten Championship and national semifinals.
When Michigan beat Ohio State last season, Day took the chance to alleviate concerns that stuck with the defense all season. The Buckeyes looked to implement a 4-2-5 scheme with a "bullet" hybrid position last season, but a lack of pressure and inefficient coverage kept Ohio State out of the playoff.
Jim Knowles was targeted as the defensive new coordinator after elevating Oklahoma State's defense to one of the best in the nation. Now, the vaunted 4-2-5 scheme has prepared all season for one single game against Michigan.
The Buckeyes have improved in every facet, as top-20 ranks in tackling and Havoc has supplied the offense with extra possessions.
Like Michigan, Knowles' defense ranks top-10 in Success Rate, generating plenty of punts from opponents. The biggest difference is that Ohio State is rarely caught off guard in defending the run despite Iowa, Penn State and numerous other Big Ten offenses using motion and pistol.
Safety Ronnie Hickman is the best run-stopper of all defensive backs on either side of the ball. The key to beating Michigan is having the discipline to keep contain on the edge and for safeties to fill holes at the point of attack against the run.
If Stroud loses the Heisman to Caleb Williams, a subset of numbers from the Iowa and Penn State game likely will have contributed.
The sophomore has been nearly mistake-free in his past two games with no interceptions and just two turnover-worthy plays. However, in consecutive games against the Hawkeyes and Nittany Lions, the Heisman contender committed six turnover-worthy plays while seeing 17 total pressures.
The biggest difference in Stroud's game this year is a falloff in adjusted completion percentage in dropbacks with pressure.
IOWA STRIP SACK ON CJ STROUD FOR 6 😤
— Bleacher Report CFB (@BR_CFB) October 22, 2022
Stroud has dropped from a 71% adjusted completion percentage in pressured passing attempts from last season to 47% this year despite a small uptick in pressure-to-sack ratio.
The mission objective is clear for the Michigan defense: Generate pressure on Stroud to force Havoc plays.
Health is also a concern for Ohio State's skill position players, specifically in the backfield.
Miyan Williams missed the Maryland game, while TreVeyon Henderson tallied just 10 rushing attempts. The attempts for Henderson were beggarly, as he failed to create a missed tackle while averaging just 1.4 yards after contact.
Dallan Hayden filled in admirably with 146 yards rushing against the Terrapins, but there's no element of elusiveness with the senior running back.
The emergence of Marvin Harrison Jr. at wide receiver has been a shining light since Jaxon Smith-Njigba suffered an injury in Game 1 against Notre Dame. With 99 targets on the year, Harrison is a Biletnikoff finalist who averages 3.3 yards per route run.
Any number over two yards per route run is considered explosive. Ohio State has both Harrison and Emeka Egbuka posting those numbers, with Egbuka averaging 3.1 yards per route run from the slot.
This is the most explosive wide receiver duo in college football with the ability to beat man coverage on the outside and zone coverage on crossing routes.
There's no guesswork as to what Michigan wants to do offensively in this game.
Harbaugh set out to build the greatest rushing attack in college football, and new co-offensive coordinator Sherrone Moore has built an offensive line that creates wide holes.
Star running back Blake Corum has 88 rushing attempts in zone blocking and 157 in gap, where there's a defined point of attack. Corum has found himself in the Heisman conversation, averaging 3.4 yards after contact and creating 73 missed tackles.
However, he was injured against Illinois before returning to the field for one snap and getting the rest of the day off. Corum has stated he will be fine for the game against the team up north.
After leaving the game in the first half Michigan RB Blake Corum has returned. pic.twitter.com/uiNpjz4d9u
— Action Network Colleges (@ActionColleges) November 19, 2022
In five possessions without Corum, the Wolverines never scored a touchdown.
CJ Stokes and Isaiah Gash were serviceable at running back, but quarterback JJ McCarthy's issues in the passing game continue to stall the Wolverine offense.
Despite Harbaugh's desire to run from every down and distance, there will be passing downs where McCarthy must get production from his arm. Not all of the blame should fall on McCarthy, as the sophomore has logged just one turnover-worthy play in the last month compared to nine drops.
The health of Donovan Edwards is of utmost importance to the Wolverines, as the dynamic back has put up 2.6 yards per route run in limited play this season.
A change at defensive coordinator has not affected the production of the Michigan defense. The Wolverines rank top-five in numerous categories such as tackling, Success Rate and coverage.
Interior linemen Kris Jenkins and Mazi Smith are two of the highest-graded Power Five players in pass-rush productivity, per PFF.
Both DJ Turner and Will Johnson have thrived in zone coverage, which is Michigan's preferred look on more than 65% of opponent passing attempts. No other player on either team has forced more incompletions in any coverage scheme than Turner in zone.
Ohio State vs Michigan Matchup Analysis
Toggle the dropdowns below to hide or show how Ohio State and Michigan match up statistically:
Michigan Offense vs. Ohio State Defense
|** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)
Ohio State Offense vs. Michigan Defense
|** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)
Pace of Play / Other
|SP+ Special Teams
|Seconds per Play
Data via CollegeFootballData.com (CFBD), FootballOutsiders, SP+, Pro Football Focus and SportSource Analytics.
Ohio State vs Michigan Betting Pick
Michigan's offense is a fascinating watch with an offensive line that can pull all five players in space, led by center Olu Oluwatimi. McCarthy has been the perfect quarterback for a system that uses heavy motion, play action and run-pass options with a moving pocket.
One item that has been left off tape for numerous weeks is designed runs for McCarthy. The quarterback has 153 yards on designed calls this season but has tallied a net of just six yards over the past four games.
No matter how you slice the Buckeyes defense, Knowles has built a tremendous run-stopping group. Ohio State is one of the best defenses in the nation in allowing long rushing plays from scrimmage.
If McCarthy is unable to put together competent passing attempts, Ohio State may elect to bump its safeties closer to the line of scrimmage in an effort to take away the run.
McCarthy's average depth of target of 9.6 has been boosted by facing Rutgers and Nebraska, as seven other games have been well below the season average. Michigan hasn't added the deep ball to its repertoire, with a quarter of McCarthy's 36 passing attempts beyond 20 yards resulting in a target drop.
Because there's no vertical pass threat, McCarthy is seeing an increase in pressures. In a near upset, Illinois posted 10 pressures — the most the Michigan offensive line has allowed all season.
The bigger issue may be Michigan's defense in zone coverage. Outside of Turner, there has been a severe lack of interruption, as Gemon Green has posted the only other forced incompletion in zone coverage. This opens the door for Ohio State to exploit the back end of Michigan's defense.
Michigan is primarily a zone-coverage defense, with sagging ranks in man coverage.
Harrison enters as the third highest-graded wide receiver in all of college football against man coverage. If the Wolverines elect to stay in the familiar zone concept, Ohio State will hit plenty of explosive plays. Harrison also grades out as the fourth-best wide receiver against zone, while Egbuka enters the conversation as a top-20 target versus zone coverage.
The big difference in this game compared to last season is Ohio State's ability to defend the run. Knowles has implemented fundamentals so motion and pistol offenses don't confuse the front seven.
Improvement from the Buckeyes' safeties in terms of tackling at the line of scrimmage is the key on this side of the ball.
As for the Michigan defense, putting pressure on Stroud is the top priority. However, outside of Turner at cornerback, the Wolverines have no answers for Harrison and Egbuka.
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