Nov 24, 2021 - Sports

Preview: Buckeyes head to the state up north

Two Ohio State players shake hands in celebration after scoring a touchdown.

Chris Olave #2 celebrates scoring a touchdown with C.J. Stroud against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights earlier this season. Stroud has emerged as a leading Heisman Trophy candidate. Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images

Every Ohio State-Michigan football game is a huge deal, but this year the stakes are truly monumental.

Why it matters: A year after the pandemic canceled the 2020 rivalry game, this Saturday's contest in Ann Arbor will have major postseason implications for both schools.

State of play: The Buckeyes and Wolverines each enter with an impressive 10-1 record and a shot at reaching the College Football Playoff.

  • They're ranked No. 2 and 6 respectively in the latest AP Top 25 poll as well as No. 2 and No. 5 respectively in this week's CFP rankings.

Lightning preview: OSU has been powered by a high octane offense that leads the nation in scoring.

  • Freshman quarterback C.J. Stroud has overcome early doubts to develop into a Heisman Trophy candidate.

The other side: The Wolverine offense is capable of putting up big rushing numbers, but Michigan has been especially dominant on the defensive end — holding opponents to fewer than 20 points in nine of the team's 11 games this season.

The stakes: Saturday's winner heads to the Big Ten championship game and would be favored to win the conference title and a playoff berth.

  • The loser would have two losses and fall out of playoff contention.

The big picture: This rivalry has been particularly one-sided in recent years.

  • OSU has won the last eight contests and 15 of the last 16.
  • The Buckeyes have outscored Michigan 331-216 in those eight victories.

👋 Everett, editor for Axios Local, here. As a Michigan grad, falls have recently not been all that fun. This year is an exception, but even then, the threat of The Game looms.

  • So while this is my favorite Michigan team in about a decade, one that's the best reflection of coach Jim Harbaugh, I also live with the knowledge that some of the worst Saturdays of my adult life are a result of this rivalry game.
  • It's hard to get hopes up, but that's the beauty of college football. Go Blue and whatnot. Miracles do happen.

Yesterday, we asked readers to predict the game score. Here are a few guesses:

  • Matt S.: OSU 49, Michigan 21
  • John R.: Michigan 32, OSU 28
  • Tammy D.: OSU 18, Michigan 17

Email us at [email protected] and send us your score predictions.

  • The Axios Columbus newsletter subscriber with the closest guess wins some Axios swag!
Ohio State fans cheer during the 2006 game against Michigan in a stadium panorama shot.
Ohio State fans cheer during the 2006 matchup against Michigan, considered to be the "Game of the Century." Photo: Bill Frakes /Sports Illustrated via Getty Images

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