Look for Ohio State to come out throwing to set up the run, as they have most of the year. Ohio State likes to spread the field with QB Troy Smith in the shotgun—he has 26 touchdowns and only four interceptions this year, by the way—and three or four wideouts in the game. Our wide receivers are extraordinary: There's the sprinter speed of Ted Ginn, the impeccable hands of Anthony Gonzalez (surely you recall his back-breaking catch near the goal line in Ann Arbor last year), and the wise coach's son play of Brian Robiskie, whose father is an NFL lifer. The Wolverines will have no choice but to roll a safety over to double Ginn—everyone has all year—leaving the soft middle open for the slant to Gonzalez and Co. Forget three yards and a cloud of dust, the slant pattern to Ginn's opposite side has been our go-to play in 2006.
Your defensive line will be looking for the sack, but it's easier said than done with Smith in the shotgun. He's nifty with his feet, and his lower-body strength allows him to throw downfield with guys hanging on him. Sure, Ohio State could turn the ball over a bunch, and Mario Manningham is good enough to single-handedly turn the game in your favor. Heck, maybe there will be a torrential downpour that will really improve your lot. But those boys out in Vegas were trying to tell you something when they made Ohio State a seven-point favorite.
In the fourth quarter with the game in doubt, rivalry football comes down to quarterback play and a coach that excels—not chokes—under pressure. We have Troy Smith and Jim Tressel, you have Chad Henne and Lloyd Carr. Troy has won two in a row against Michigan, and our coach has won four of five against yours. I like our chances. Ohio State by 10.
By the way, I have a pair of tickets to the game. And they're not for sale.
Jonathan: A few final points:
1. You're right that Michigan gives up a lot of passing yards, but that's only because their opponents pass the ball a lot. Michigan's defense gives up exactly as many yards per pass as Ohio State. A lot of sportswriters have called Michigan's pass defense a weak spot, but that's just a sloppy use of statistics.
2. Mike Hart is indeed small. In fact, he's not even fast. But he does not need lanes to run through. He needs crevices so tiny they often cannot be detected by the human eye.
3. I remember the last time Michigan was a touchdown underdog. The result was this.
Aaron: Let me sum up this game as succinctly as possible: We have Troy Smith. You don't.