Under The Hood: Michigan @ Ohio State

Well, unfortunately for Longhorn fans, this year?s title game won?t feature Texas as a participant. But you know as well as I do that ya can?t win ?em all. And it doesn?t take anything away from the excitement that is this college football season. And we?ve got a pair of huge national games that everyone?s sure to be talking about. We?ll warm things up with the Big One, Michigan at Ohio State. Analysis to follow statistical overview:

Ohio State margin of victory: 28 points
Michigan margin of victory: 17.3 points

Ohio State's opponents have a combined record of: 48-52
Michigan's opponets have a combined record of: 58-44
As another rough guide, Jeff Sagarin lists Ohio State's strength of schedule as 49th in the country and Michigan's as 29th. How are these two teams performing statistically? Below are tables of each team's season totals, with national rank in parentheses.

Michigan By The Numbers: Offense


****************************************************************************************************************************


Ohio State By The Numbers: DefenseMichiganBy The Numbers: Defense


The next, final, step, is to put those numbers into context. The following chart shows the national rank in total offense and total defense for each of Ohio State and Michigan's 2006 opponents.

Ohio State-Michigan Opponents' Positional Ranks
Ohio State By The Numbers: Offense
Rush YPG Rush YPC Rush TD Pass YPG Pass YPA Pass TD QB Rating Total Offense Scoring Offense
179.5 (20) 4.61 (20) 22 (10) 221.9 (37) 8.6 (10) 27 (7) 166.3 (5) 401.3 (19) 35.8 (8)
Rush YPG Rush YPC Rush TD Pass YPG Pass YPA Pass TD QB Rating Total Offense Scoring Offense
194.6 (12) 4.48 (27) 18 (20) 178.4 (82) 7.7 (30) 18 (31) 144.8 (24) 372.9 (35) 29.4 (26)
Rush YPG Rush YPC Rush TD Pass YPG Pass YPA Pass TD Total Defense Scoring Defense
90.2 (11) 3.19 (22) 3 (t1) 171.5 (23) 5.5 (t8) 6 (6) 261.7 (8) 7.8 (1)
Rush YPG Rush YPC Rush TD Pass YPG Pass YPA Pass TD Total Defense Scoring Defense
29.9 (1) 1.32 (1) 3 (t1) 201.5 (65) 5.5 (t8) 11 (43) 231.5 (3) 12.1 (5)
Total Offense Rank tOSU Opponent Total Defense Rank -- Total Offense Rank Michigan Opponent Total Defense Rank
33
Northern Illinois
96
--
43
Vanderbilt
72
18
@Texas
24
--
31
Central Michigan
76
77
Cincinnati
41
--
23
@Notre Dame
59
56
Penn State
13
--
26
Wisconsin
7
39
@Iowa
62
--
46
@Minnesota
108
51
Bowling Green
63
--
45
Michigan State
86
45
@Michigan State
86
--
56
@Penn State
13
80
Indiana
105
--
39
Iowa
62
46
Minnesota
108
--
90
Northwestern
89
55
@Illinois
37
--
57
Ball State
117
90
@Northwestern
89
--
80
@Indiana
105
53.6
Average
65.8
--
48.7
Average
72.2

Charts? Charts.

So, is there anything that should jump out at us? I'll tell you one thing: as evenly as these teams are matched, that 6.5 point opening line looks a little high, no? Let's take a closer look at the data, though:

*I think you have to give the nod to Michigan for the superior resume at this point, if only barely. They've more or less neutered some otherwise effective offenses. Still, just about everywhere you look, these teams are neck and neck.

*Michigan has given up more yards through the air than Ohio State, but that's why we look at yards per pass attempt. Turns out the two teams are equally impressive in that category; the additional yardage Michigan gives up is because teams have had absolutely NO success running the football. Without any ability to run, Wolverine opponets just keep chucking it..

*One of the things that I think makes Ohio State such a great team is the balance they have on offense. But what happens if Michigan shuts down the Buckeye ground attack? Can Troy Smith beat Michigan all on his own? I think that's too tall an order; watch closely on Saturday to see how well Pittman's doing in the early going. If he's not gaining any yards, the Buckeyes are in trouble.

*Conversely, what made me think Michigan was so strong in the first half of their season was their ability to pop you for the big pass at any time. Run with Hart. Run with Hart. Lull you to sleep. BAM! There goes Manningham. If that ability to stretch the field isn't there Saturday, Michigan becomes equally one-dimensional, and equally vulnerable. They've -got- to get some big plays to keep the Buckeyes honest. It was a good sign for Michigan this past Saturday that they connected on some big plays against Indiana.

*There aren't any obvious weaknesses on either team, which means more than ever, turnovers will be decisive. Not surprisingly, both teams have been exceptional in that department this season. The Wolverines are enjoying a +12 turnover margin this season; the Buckeyes +14. One thing to keep an eye on - Ohio State leads the nation in interceptions gained with 21. Big test for Henne.

*Ohio State has won four of the last five in this series, but Texas fans know that you can throw that kind of thing out the window. The Wolverines won't be intimidated on Saturday, and Jim Tressel doesn't "own" Lloyd Carr any more than Bob Stoops "owns" Mack Brown. Both coaches will have their teams ready; these things come down to execution, turnovers, and special teams.

I'm not ready to venture a guess on the outcome of this one just yet, but as the hype drums start to kick into overdrive this week, here's your starter kit for all your Big Game analysis.

[Previous "Under The Hood" Articles: Wisconsin, Rutgers, Kansas State]

--PB--

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