Get the points with the Wolverines

Turkey, stuffing, pumpkin pie, at least one relative overstepping their welcome and…Michigan vs. Ohio State.

Thanksgiving weekend just wouldn’t be the same without these traditions. And this year, the latter tradition is evolving into one for eternity.

For only the third time in the 117-year history of their storied rivalry, No. 3 Michigan and No. 2 Ohio come with the top three national rankings in The Game. They also enter Saturday’s fight with unblemished 11-0 records. And — like last season — a guaranteed spot in next month’s College Football Playoffs is dependent on the result.

Although both teams are undefeated, the bookies give the Buckeyes a decisive advantage, favored by more than one touchdown at home.

Will the Wolverines, who stunned Ohio State 42-27 as a 6.5-point home underdog a year ago, be disregarded again? Or are the Buckeyes poised to avenge last year’s loss with their fifth double-digit blowout of Michigan in their last seven games?

Here’s our Michigan vs. Ohio State prediction for this colossal duel of college football powerhouses.

Note: The odds were updated on November 24th at 01:00 ET.

Let’s start with the similarities, because there are many.

In addition to their unblemished straight-up overall records, both Michigan (6-4-1 ATS) and Ohio State (5-5-1 ATS) have averaged bettors. And both sit just behind undefeated team and No. 1 Georgia on the national championship odds board.

Ohio State has won all of its games by double digits (including six by 30+ points). Michigan has nine double-digit wins (including five by 30+ points). And yet both teams got very scared last week.

The Wolverines needed a last-second field goal to beat Illinois 19-17 as a 17.5-point home favorite while Ohio State struggled to the end in Maryland and 43-30 as a 26.5-point road favorite won. (The Buckeyes only led 33-30 with less than a minute to play.)

And finally — and most importantly — both are grappling with key injuries in their respective offensive backfields.

Wolverine’s tailback and Heisman Trophy nominee Blake Corum — who has averaged 132.5 yards per game and notched 18 touchdowns — injured his knee late in the first half against Illinois. He returned for two snaps and then left for good.

Additionally, Donovan Edwards – who is Corum’s primary backup – sat out last week’s game with an undisclosed injury.

Meanwhile, Ohio State’s Miyan Williams and TreVeyon Henderson, who have combined for 1,354 rushing yards and 19 TDs, are battling lower-body injuries.

» READ MORE: Michigan vs. Ohio State Odds: Who’s the Better Bet to Win It All?

Not surprisingly, both Buckeyes coach Ryan Day and Wolverines coach Jim Harbaugh have been silent on the status of all four players this week. So it’s really unknown who (if any) will be on the field at Ohio Stadium on Saturday.

However, one group we absolutely know will be on the field is Michigan’s incredibly dominant defense.

The Wolverines lead the entire FBS in total defense (241.3 yards per game allowed); They are second in scoring defense (11.7 points per game allowed) and rushing defense (79.5 ypg); and fifth in pass defense (161.7 ypg).

It’s a stopping unit unlike any state in Ohio this season. Of course, you could flip that and say the Buckeyes’ prolific offense is unlike anything Michigan has ever seen.

That is absolutely true. But as the old saying goes, defense wins championships. And the fact is, only one team has scored more than 17 points against the Wolverines. That was Maryland, who lost 34-27 in Week 4 in Ann Arbor.

However, the Terrapins only had 13 points going into the fourth quarter. They also scored a meaningless touchdown with 45 seconds remaining in the game.

Without question, the best offense Michigan has faced this season has been Penn State, which is averaging 36 points per game (19th-best in the nation). The Nittany Lions have at least 30 points in nine of 11 contests (including 31 against Ohio State).

However, in mid-October, they only scored 17 points against the Wolverines — and seven of those came on an interception return for a touchdown.

Granted, Ohio State’s offense – which ranks in the top 15 nationally in every major category – is better than Penn State’s. And quarterback CJ Stroud, who shredded the Wolverines for 394 passing yards in last year’s loss, will be the best player Michigan’s D has seen this season.

But while Stroud is sure to make some big plays on Saturday, the Wolverines’ stoppage unit is vastly superior to the one he faced 365 days ago in Ann Arbor. And even though this game is Columbus, we know defense travels.

» READ MORE: Heisman Trophy Odds: USC’s Williams overtakes Ohio State’s Stroud

Because of that, our only concern in supporting Michigan revolves around their offense — namely, Corum’s potential absence.

The junior running back is a true playmaker and game changer. And he takes a lot of the pressure off a lazy Michigan pass “attack” that barely averages 200 yards per game.

However, the Buckeyes’ defense showed some serious weaknesses both last week in Maryland and in a 44-31 win at Penn State (a game far closer than the bottom line would suggest). In fact, Ohio State has been surpassed in three of their last four games despite their high-flying offense.

Bottom Line: We totally disagree with the odds maker’s take on this showdown as these teams are much more even than the point spreads suggest. And we could easily see Michigan’s defense making a handful of big, dynamic plays that give the offense short field.

Also note this: While Ohio State had won eight straight meetings in this rivalry prior to last season, the underdog has covered the points spread for four of the last five years and six of the last eight.

The Wolverines were the underdogs in seven of those eight clashes. And they went 5-2 ATS.

Get the points with Michigan at FanDuel — and don’t be surprised if Harbaugh’s troops are capable of winning it late in the fourth quarter.

  • Point distribution: Michigan (+7.5) @ Ohio State (-7.5)

  • money line: Michigan (+235) @ State of Ohio (-295)

  • In total: 56.5 points (Over -105/Under -115)

» READ MORE: Full sports betting coverage from The Philadelphia Inquirer

The Inquirer is not an online gambling operator or gambling site. We provide this sports betting information for entertainment purposes only.

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