7 things to know about the Ohio State-Michigan matchup and series

COLUMBUS — The eyes of college football figure to be fixed on Ohio State and Michigan this week.

As the second-ranked Buckeyes and third-ranked Wolverines are getting ready for their 119th meeting, here are seven things to know about a rivalry that began in 1897:

1. Michigan is 11-0 for the second year in a row.

That hasn’t happened since 1901-02.

The Wolverines opened the season by beating East Carolina, UNV and Bowling Green in the nonconference by an average score of 32-5.3.

They beat Rutgers 31-7 then thrashed Nebraska, Minnesota, Indiana, Michigan State and Purdue by an average of 47.8-7.4.

In the last two weeks, things have been much tighter as Michigan beat ninth-ranked Penn State 24-15 and downed Maryland 31-24, both on the road.

2. The Wolverines have been engulfed in scandal for most of the year.

Head coach Jim Harbaugh served a school-imposed suspension for the first three games of the season after being accused by the NCAA of committing minor recruiting violations and then allegedly misleading investigators when questioned about it.

That case is still pending, but a new one came to light in October when the NCAA informed the Big Ten it was investigating allegations a staff member had sent people to scout and record play signals of future opponents at their games, which is against NCAA rules.

As a result, the Big Ten suspended Harbaugh for the rest of the regular season after ruling the program violated its sportsmanship policy, and linebackers coach Chris Partridge was fired last week after reportedly interfering with the NCAA’s investigation in some way.

Offensive coordinator and line coach Sherrone Moore, who was already the play-caller, has been the acting head coach the last two games with Harbaugh absent, and that will continue to be the case this weekend.

3. Both defenses have been dominant this season.

Michigan leads the nation in scoring defense (9.0 points per game) and total defense (234.8 yards per game) while Ohio State is second (9.3) and third (252.9), respectively.

Both teams also rank in the national top three in pass efficiency defense and the top two in passing yardage allowed, but neither has displayed a great pass rush.

Michigan is 38th in the country in sacks (2.45 per game) while Ohio State is 83rd (1.9).

4. The Michigan offense has been more efficient than explosive.

The Wolverines are 11th in the country in scoring (38.3 points per game) and 53rd in total yards (399.6) with the No. 49 run offense (171) and No. 63 passing offense (228.6).

Junior quarterback J.J. McCarthy leads the nation in completion percentage (73.8). He also leads the Big Ten in passing efficiency (178.3) while ranking third in passing yards (212.3 per game) and second in yards per completion (13.4).

His top target is Roman Wilson, a senior receiver with 612 receiving yards and 20 touchdowns.

Senior running back Blake Corum leads the nation in rushing touchdowns (20) and points (120) while ranking third in the Big Ten with 80.7 yards per game.

5. Northmont graduate Rod Moore is Michigan’s only full-time starter from Ohio.

A junior safety, Moore has 19 tackles this season with one interception and a pair of pass breakups.

He was an honorable mention All-Big Ten selection last year but missed the beginning of this season with a leg injury. The 6-foot, 198-pounder worked his way slowly back into the starting lineup but is one of the Wolverines’ most-experienced defenders.

More broke into the starting lineup as a true freshman in 2021 and is looking to be part of the first Michigan class to beat Ohio State three times since 1997.

A.J. Barner, a senior tight end from Aurora, is Michigan’s No. 2 tight end but has started eight games after transferring from Indiana.

Overall, Michigan has eight players from Ohio, down from 16 in 2019 but two more than last year.

Harbaugh is also an Ohio native, having been born in Toledo and lived briefly in Xenia as young boy.

6. Michigan leads the all-time series 60-52-6.

Prior to 2021, Ohio State had narrowed the series to its closest point since the forward pass was legalized in 1906.

Since then, the Wolverines have reversed their fortunes in The Game with a pair of dominant wins in a row.

The hosts enjoy a 32-24-4 advantage in games in Ann Arbor, including a 24-22-3 mark at Michigan Stadium.

The teams have met as fop five teams 12 times with Ohio State holding a 7-4-1 lead in such games, and 25 times as top 10 teams. The Buckeyes have a 12-11-2 mark in the latter.

7. Upsets are back.

The underdog won eight of 12 meetings from 1993-2004, including four wins for each team, but the higher-ranked team won the next 13 games in the series.

That came to an end when Ohio State scored an upset in 2018, and three of the last four games have been upsets counting that contest.

Ohio State is ranked above Michigan, but the Wolverines are favored by about a field goal this week.


Ohio State at Michigan, Noon, Fox, 1410

About the Author