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Kornacki Preview: Michigan at Ohio State

Friday, November 25, 2016 17:42
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(Before It's News)

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There are probably too many things in this world that I don’t like. What can I say, I’m a particular man. I don’t like people taking selfies at the gym. I hate it when the car in front of you waits until the light turns green to use their left turn signal. I don’t like up-speak. I don’t like straws, can’t stand EDM and I’m not sure why James Franco is still allowed to make movies. 

But at the top of my list of things I don’t like, right below insufferable political ideologies and violent criminals, is Thee Ohio State University (notice how I use their full title, unlike those buffoons who can’t use the letter M, and they usually manage to screw that up).
There isn’t a single thing I like about the institution. In fact, I view it as the antithesis of everything I love and admire about The University of Michigan. About the only thing that is comparable between the schools in my opinion is the quality of their respective football programs, and this year’s teams are two of the more evenly matched in the entire history of the rivalry. So what are the advantages, if any, that each team has going into Saturday’s game? Let’s break them things on down!

Ohio State Offense
It’s no secret to anyone who follows college football that Ohio State is known for having a well balanced spread offense. They run often and early in games, working in a large dose of bubble screens to stretch a defense, and then once the opposing safeties start to inch closer to the line of scrimmage, they air out a deep pass to a speedy wide receiver and all of the sudden they’ve got you on your heels.

Tomorrow’s approach isn’t going to be any different. This is a very good offense, but it’s not as dangerous as the one they had last season. The offensive line isn’t nearly as good, and they no longer have Ezekiel Elliot. They do however still have J.T. Barrett at QB and one of the best pure athletes in college football in Curtis Samuel. If the triple threat of Barrett, Samuel and Mike Weber struggle to pick up rushing yardage on the stout Michigan front seven, Barrett will be forced to beat the outstanding Wolverine secondary with his arm, and I’m not sure he’ll be able to do it…

Ohio State Defense
This is a very talented defense, but similarly to the OSU offense, it’s not quite as good as last year’s group. They can help the offense by being able to put points on the board as well as any defense in the county, with the exception of Alabama’s. But their front seven isn’t as stingy as they were last season.

Linebacker Raekwon McMillan (71 tackles, 4.5 TFLs, 1 sack) and defensive end Tyquan Lewis (27 tackles, 10 TFLs,7.5 sacks) are definitely formidable front seven players, but they don’t strike fear into your heart the way some past Buckeyes have. Marshon Lattimore is one of the better cornerbacks in the Big Ten, and Malik Hooker is one of the top two or three safeties in the country, but there are definite weakness to be exploited…

Michigan Offense
The most obvious question concerning the Michigan offense going into Saturday’s matchup is who’s going to start at quarterback. I think we’re going to see Wilton Speight, John O’Korn and Jabrill Peppers all take several snaps. I’m expecting to see an offensive scheme unlike anything we’ve seen in the last two seasons from Harbaugh and Co. I’m guessing that they’ve been saving almost an entire other playbook for this game. 

After last week’s performance from De’Veon Smith, I’d expect to see him get the bulk of the carries at running back. Look for a lot of sweeps and reverses with the receivers to keep OSU wide on defense, particularly with Eddie McDoom. But the two performances that I’m anticipating will stand above the rest for the Wolverines on offense will come from native Ohioan Jake Butt and the alpha dog on any college football field Jabrill Peppers.

Michigan Defense
Of the facets of this game that I think will have the largest impact, I believe that it will be UofM’s defense that will leave the largest imprint. This is truly a special group. The only weakness that they’ve shown all season has been their play on the edge, but I was encouraged by several things I saw last Saturday versus Indiana, especially from Mike McCray.

I’m betting on the front seven to win the battle in the trenches against the fairly inexperienced Buckeye O-line, and for the secondary to cause all sorts of problems for J.T. Barrett (not to mention the problems Barrett will face with Peppers probably being used as a spy on him for a lot of the game) holding OSU to their lowest point total of the season.

Special Teams
Special teams have the potential to play a major role in this game. Kenny Allen has been lights out as of late, and don’t be at all surprised to see him hit the biggest field goals of his career. Ohio State also has a dependable kicker in Tyler Durbin, who’s 16 of 17 on the season with field goals, but he’s also missed 2 extra points… This could also be a game that sees the tradition of potential Michigan Heisman Trophy winners returning punts against OSU continue, and no punt return would be more timely for the program.

Lastly, the one major and distinct advantage that I think Michigan holds over the Buckeyes is experience. This is a hungry, disciplined team filled with upperclassmen, and that could pay huge dividends in tomorrow’s matchup with everything on the line for both teams.

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