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Random Thoughts are heavy on Ohio State-Michigan this week (and food)

Everyone having a happy holiday weekend? I hope so! With the hours until the 115th edition of the Ohio State-Michigan game winding down, here are some random thoughts on that… and other things. 

  • Most games have 2-3 most likely potential outcomes. Ohio State-Michigan is no exception. I think the one that passes through my head most often has Ohio State’s offense having some success but the defense just not being able to derail the Wolverines down the stretch. Maybe kind of like the 2003 game Michigan won 35-21. (I picked 30-20 in the paper.
  • One of the big problems I’m having trying to pick The Game 2018 is that I don’t feel like the Buckeyes have played well against Michigan (relative to competition level) very often recently despite winning almost every year. Ohio State exceeded expectations in 2015 and (while losing) in 2011. Michigan has played better than expected in probably four of the last six years. Are we due for a correction, or are the Wolverines coming loaded for bear while Ohio State is just kind of there?
  • Maybe Ohio State will benefit from the opportunity to flush everything that’s happened before now. Maybe Saturday will be more of the same. 
  • This is starting to feel like a classic ‘90s Ohio State-Michigan matchup, but not in the way you probably think. No, not because the Wolverines actually have a good chance to win but because one of the teams has a chance to put a happy face on a year that otherwise feels a little disappointing. That team would be Ohio State. The Buckeyes can do something Michigan did regularly in the last decade of the last century, turning so-so seasons into solid campaigns by upsetting Ohio State at the end because they remembered they had more talent than they probably showed for swaths of the season. 

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  • When it comes to maximizing personnel over the last four years, there’s no contest between Jim Harbaugh and Urban Meyer. Michigan has been far better, though of course the difference in personnel has been significant the first three years. Necessity is the mother of invention, but that is no excuse for how unimaginative Meyer has been much of the time since Tom Herman left.  
  • What if the positives from Ohio State’s offense at Maryland outweigh the negatives of the defense? Maybe that’s a stretch... but not as much as you might think. Dwayne Haskins showed some serious toughness mentally and physically last week. The offensive line and running backs have responded well to having more put on their backs since the bye week. Will it carry over?
  • One of the most important lessons a college football team can learn through the course of a season is to play through adversity. The Ohio State offense has done this. The defense has not. The most alarming thing about the Maryland and Purdue games is the dreadful fourth quarters. Otherwise it would be easier to say well that was a bad quarter or a bad half or even just a bad game. They never stopped the bleeding in those games and in fact got worse as the game went on in West Lafayette. 
  • I feel like Shea Patterson is going to swing the Ohio State-Michigan game 14 points but I’m not sure which way.
  • Meanwhile, the Battle of Ohio is this weekend. No, not Ohio State-Cleveland State in basketball Friday night but the Browns at the Bengals on Sunday afternoon. 
  • The playoff push is as good as over in Cincinnati, but I’m bullish on the 2019 Bengals offense. Why am I looking that far ahead? The Bengals certainly gave Marvin Lewis a two-year contract intending him to be here both years, so let’s assume he’s back in 2019. They are trending in the right direction, but there was a long way to go. Changes on offense have been good for Andy Dalton, Tyler Boyd and Joe Mixon. The offensive line is better but still a player or two away. 
  • As for the Bengals defense? That makeover is still a major work in progress with the biggest concern being the steep decline of defensive line seemingly overnight. 
  • All things called salad that are not lettuce-based must be banned for the good of humanity. 
  • Remember when The Black Keys were a badass gritty rock-blues band and not just another random group making the same poppy alternative dreck as everyone else on the radio? It was wild, man! (BONUS: Remember when alternative meant, like, guitars and stuff?)
  • Memphis really needs some sort of ribs-themed alternate uniform. Blues, too. 
  • I’d also like to see a Texas school hold Bovine University Day. 

“Random Thoughts” is a semi-regular feature here at blog. While most of our other coverage is concentrated on news and analysis, this is a place to share opinions and have some fun. Have your own thoughts? Send them along to marcus.hartman@coxin.com or find us on Twitter or Facebook. 

About the Author

Marcus Hartman has been a digital sports columnist and reporter at Cox Media Group Ohio since 2016. 

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