Who will win? Experts make predictions for Ohio State vs. Michigan

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Ohio State football is one game away from the Big Ten Championship Game, two wins away from a sure spot in the College Football Playoff and a chance to play for the 2021 national championship.

So is Michigan.

The Buckeyes and Wolverines, with matching 10-1 records, play at noon Saturday in Ann Arbor in what is the biggest game of the Ohio State schedule.

It’s “The Game.”

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Ohio State has yet to lose in Big Ten play, while Michigan’s only loss has come against Michigan State in East Lansing. The Buckeyes bashed the then-No.7-ranked Spartans last week, 56-7, in one of most convincing wins of the season for any team.

So who wins the Ohio State-Michigan game?

Here’s what members of The Columbus Dispatch staff and Michael Cohen of the Detroit Free Press think:

Columbus Dispatch Ohio State football beat reporter Bill Rabinowitz photographed April 29, 2021 in the Columbus Dispatch newsroom.
Columbus Dispatch Ohio State football beat reporter Bill Rabinowitz photographed April 29, 2021 in the Columbus Dispatch newsroom.

Bill Rabinowitz

Ohio State beat writer

The Columbus Dispatch

Ohio State 38, Michigan 24

If the Buckeyes play the way they did last week, they'll win easily. But Michigan is more talented than Michigan State, and the Wolverines are highly, highly motivated. This would be the signature win in Jim Harbaugh's tenure. Michigan will want to shorten the game with its run game, but Ohio State's passing game is much more potent than Michigan's. A huge key will be the OSUs offensive line's ability to control star defensive ends Aidan Hutchinson and David Obajo.

Columbus Dispatch Ohio State football beat reporter Joey Kaufman photographed April 29, 2021 in the Columbus Dispatch newsroom.
Columbus Dispatch Ohio State football beat reporter Joey Kaufman photographed April 29, 2021 in the Columbus Dispatch newsroom.

Joey Kaufman

Ohio State beat writer

The Columbus Dispatch

Ohio State 38, Michigan 27

The X-factor in this matchup is new Michigan defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald, who was a part of Jim Harbaugh’s coaching staff overhaul last winter and has fixed a lot of issues for the Wolverines on that side of the ball. Ryan Day torched his predecessor Don Brown in the past two meetings in 2019 and 2018, scoring a combined 118 points. Will it take longer for Day to feel out Macdonald, who had been in the NFL with the Baltimore Ravens for most of his career? That matchup could set up a more competitive edition of The Game after recent blowouts, but the Buckeyes ultimately have too many playmakers for Michigan to contain.

Columbus Dispatch sports columnist Rob Oller photographed Thursday, Feb. 11, 2021.
Columbus Dispatch sports columnist Rob Oller photographed Thursday, Feb. 11, 2021.

Rob Oller

Sports columnist

The Columbus Dispatch

Ohio State 34, Michigan 24

Pretty simple, really. The Wolverines need to play flawlessly on both sides of the ball and force the Buckeyes into making mistakes. Michigan's defense has the means to make life difficult for C.J. Stroud, but I don't see that happening to the point of the Heisman hopeful making enough errors to undermine OSU's high-octane offense. Defensively, the Buckeyes will be tested by a UM offense that is both tough and talented. But if Michigan State could beat its rival, Ohio State certainly can, too. The winning streak reaches nine.

Michael Cohen - Newsroom Employee. Detroit Free Press U-M reporter
Michael Cohen - Newsroom Employee. Detroit Free Press U-M reporter

Michael Cohen

Michigan State beat writer

Detroit Free Press

Ohio State 33, Michigan 26

For as good as Mike Macdonald's defense was at containing Penn State's star receiver Jahan Dotson, trying to stop Ohio State's three-headed monster is something entirely different. Pass rushers Aidan Hutchinson and David Ojabo will keep Michigan in it with timely pressures and sacks, but the downfield passing of quarterback C.J. Stroud is too much to overcome. Another win for the Buckeyes in a game that comes down to the wire.

2021 Ohio State Buckeyes football schedule

  • Sept. 2: Ohio State 45, Minnesota 31

  • Sept. 11: Oregon 35, Ohio State 28

  • Sept. 18: Ohio State 41, Tulsa 20

  • Sept. 25: Ohio State 59, Akron 7

  • Oct. 2: Ohio State 52, Rutgers 13

  • Oct. 9: Ohio State 66, Maryland 17

  • Oct. 23: Ohio State 54, Indiana 7

  • Oct. 30: Ohio State 33, Penn State, 24

  • Nov. 6: Ohio State 26, Nebraska 17

  • Nov. 13: Ohio State, 59, Purdue, 31

  • Nov. 20: Ohio State 56, Michigan State 7

  • Nov. 27: at Michigan, noon, FOX

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This article originally appeared on The Columbus Dispatch: Ohio State football vs. Michigan: Predictions from sports writers