Michigan and Ohio State are rivals on two completely different paths. It’s strange to hear, because of Michigan’s lack of success as a national contender in recent years, but the Wolverines are the ones that are in the driver’s seat for the Big Ten and the College Football Playoffs. Meanwhile, the Buckeyes let their earlier mistakes catch up to them, and were dealt their first conference loss. Michigan, on the other hand, has none.
At the beginning of the season, Michigan lost to Notre Dame and many wrote them off. It seemed understandable. Not a lot of people predicted Notre Dame to be this good at this point in the season, and Michigan is in one of the toughest division’s in the country. But since then, they haven’t lost a game, and their wins include every conference game that they’ve played so far.
Ohio State started off much stronger, but their out of conference schedule wasn’t anything special and they would have more adversity when they faced Penn State. The higher ranked Buckeyes team won but they played a sloppy game where their offense just didn’t execute consistently and their defense allowed big plays. They only did just enough to win, and absolutely nothing extra.
Some thought their problems in that game would be fixed, but yesterday, the Buckeyes lost to Purdue and allowed 49 points to give the Boilermakers their highest scoring game of the season. Ohio State was the second ranked team in the nation, while Purdue was unranked and only had a record of 3-3. In other words, the loss was the type that kills morale and, more importantly, looks bad to the Playoff committee.
Devin Bush was ruining the Michigan State logo at midfield before the game. pic.twitter.com/dx7GqdwplX
— Jordan Heck (@JordanHeckFF) October 20, 2018
Michigan’s fate on Saturday was the opposite. They played their local rivals from Michigan State, and didn’t falter despite a bad recent history against this team and despite an altercation before the start of the game raising the intensity level a bit. They only put up 21 points, but their defense proved their credentials by shutting down quarterback Brian Lewerke.
Michigan State had their worst offensive performance since 1947, with only 94 yards. It makes Michigan’s defensive performance contrast with Ohio State’s even more.
Going into The Game, everyone thought just a few weeks ago that OSU would be the favorite. Now, it’s impossible to see things that way. Their offense just doesn’t do enough against top teams, and the running game is showing that it isn’t as advertised despite better performances against weaker teams.
Ohio State had a number of times during the Purdue game where they weren’t far from the end zone but couldn’t come away with scores. That’s not going to do when they face Michigan at the end of their season. And after their first conference loss, they’ll need the Michigan win if they want to stay in contention for the playoffs.
It turns out Ohio State couldn’t make adjustments quickly enough after their poor showing against Penn State. And now, just like that, they’ve lost their position at the top that they spent all season building up. A strong Michigan team means that they have no cushion or room for a loss here… Because of this result, the road to Indianapolis is going to run through Ann Arbor, and Ohio State can’t blame anyone but themselves.