Three reasons Michigan could cause issues for Ohio State on Saturday

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It is here. We are on the doorstep of what many consider the greatest rivalry in all of American sport. And while Michigan hasn’t kept up its end of the bargain over the last twenty years vs. Ohio State, it’s still a game that many watch no matter where their allegiances lie.

But wait. Despite getting the football pulled out from under them by the Buckeyes on an annual basis, the Wolverines are feeling pretty optimistic this season because of a 10-1 record and No. 6 next to their name in the College Football Playoff Rankings. Michigan has looked like a much more physical, focused, and hungry bunch this season, and that can’t be taken lightly.

Each week here at Buckeyes Wire, we give you some reasons why the opposition might make life difficult on Ohio State, and this one seems sincere. Whether or not OSU once again administers a super-wedgie to the maize and blue once again remains to be seen.

Here are three things that could cause issues for Ohio State in the 117th meeting of these two old rivals.

Michigan's two defensive ends

Ohio State vs. Michigan: 3 reasons the Wolverines could cause issues
Ohio State vs. Michigan: 3 reasons the Wolverines could cause issues

Oct. 2, 2021; Madison, Wisconsin; Michigan Wolverines defensive end Aidan Hutchinson (97) rushes the quarterback as Wisconsin Badgers offensive lineman Logan Bruss (60) blocks during the third quarter at Camp Randall Stadium. Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

While the Ohio State offensive line has been very good this year and kept a clean pocket for quarterback C.J. Stroud, the tackles will be tested more than they have so far this year. That’s because the Wolverines have arguably the best defensive end tandem in college football with Aidan Hutchinson and David Ojabo. Both have a blend of speed and power and are have accumulated 10 sacks apiece, tied for No. 10 in the country.

If those two are wreaking havoc against Nicholas Petit-Frere and Dawand Jones, it could force some misfires, tackles for loss, and mistakes from Stroud. You have to believe one or both will win some of the battles on the edge, the anchors of the line just have to neutralize their effectiveness and win their side more often than not.

Physicality running the ball

Nov 20, 2021; College Park, Maryland, USA; Michigan Wolverines running back Hassan Haskins (25) reacts after scoring a touchdown during the second half H| at Capital One Field at Maryland Stadium. Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

If there’s a recipe for beating Ohio State, it most likely relies on keeping the Ohio State offense on the sideline as much as possible. Behind Stroud and the receiving corps, the Buckeyes are one of the most efficient offenses in the country, and are for sure the most explosive — leading the nation in points and yards per contest.

If it can execute, Michigan has the ability to control the clock with the running game, behind the duo of Hassan Haskins and Blake Corum. There’s nothing more the Wolverines would like than to go on long, extended drives that are capped off with touchdowns so they don’t have to get into a laser light show on offense.

They have the personnel and ability this year, it really comes down to which unit can execute at the point of attack. It didn’t work out so well with Michigan State.

A renewed outlook

Oct 2, 2021; Madison, Wisconsin, USA; Michigan Wolverines head coach Jim Harbaugh walks on the field during warmups prior to the game against the Wisconsin Badgers at Camp Randall Stadium. Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

There’s something different with “The Game” this year when listening to players and coaches. There’s a sign in the weight room that asks, “What have you done to beat Ohio State today?” There is also a 9-on-7 drill called the “Beat Ohio” drill. More than that, it seems the players are more or less saying the right things to make you think that this is now more than just another game.

Ohio State has owned this rivalry as of late largely because of talent, but also because it sleeps, eats, and breathes hating all things maize and blue in preparation, drills, mindset, and more — every single day of the year.

It seems Michigan has taken to that finally and is trying to do the same. Will it work on the field? I guess we’ll see Saturday afternoon.

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