The stage is set in the Week 13 college football schedule for “The Game” between the Ohio State Buckeyes vs Michigan Wolverines. Fittingly, the stakes are just as high as they were last year only both these teams are healthy and even better defensively.
Saturday’s winner doesn’t only get bragging rights in the Ohio State vs Michigan rivalry. The victor is all but guaranteed the No. 2 spot in the College Football Playoff, ensuring they’d have home-field advantage against the third-best team in college football.
Ohio State Buckeyes vs Michigan Wolverines game info
- Time: 12:00 PM ET
- TV: FOX
- Location: Michigan Stadium
- Line: Michigan -3.5
Let’s dive into our bold predictions for Saturday’s Ohio State Buckeyes vs Michigan Wolverines game.
Kyle McCord throws one interception, is sacked three-plus times
Michigan has been playing phenomenal defense all year and it could be what carries this team on Saturday. Fans have also grown accustomed to this unit making plays against Ohio State. In 2022, the Wolverines’ defense picked off C.J. Stroud twice and took down the eventual NFL star for one sack. Now, they face a lesser Buckeyes quarterback.
Collectively, McCord’s numbers this season look good with the eighth-highest ESPN QBR (83.8) in the nation and a 22-4 TD-INT ratio. However, his completion rate (70.2 percent to 62 percent), yards per attempt (10.3 to 184.2) and QB rating (184.2 to 139.8) all plummet when comparing home-road splits. Concerningly for Ohio State, that’s not even the biggest problem.
- Kyle McCord stats vs pressure (PFF): 48.2 NFL QB rating, 38% completion rate, 2-2 TD-INT, 4.0 ypa, 28.0 PFF grade on 84 dropbacks
- Kyle McCord in clean pocket (PFF): 128.8 NFL QB rating, 72.7% completion rate, 20-2 TD-INT, 10.3 ypa, 92.0 PFF grade on 258 dropbacks
Pass protection also isn’t exactly a strength for Ohio State. Through 11 games, it ranks 41st in sack rate (4.86 percent). Highlighting the inconsistency up front even further, the Buckeyes are ranked 58th by Pro Football Focus (69.1) in pass-blocking grade, allowing 52 pressures in 373 dropbacks. Michigan has one of the best pass rushes in college football, putting the Wolverines in an excellent position to terrorize McCord.
Marvin Harrison Jr. eclipses 100-yard mark, held out of end zone
Marvin Harrison Jr. is the most talented player in college football and a mismatch for even All-American cornerbacks. A year ago against the Wolverines’ defense, he turned seven receptions into 120 receiving yards and a score. While the quarterback downgrade won’t help him in this matchup, Harrison Jr’s talent is all that matters on Saturday.
Michigan will mix its coverages against the Buckeyes’ All-American star. According to PFF, Wolverines’ cornerbacks Josh Wallace (6-foot, 190 lbs.) and Will Johnson (6-foot-2, 202 lbs.) have played in man coverage on approximately 23 percent of their snaps this year, with a majority of the snaps played in zone coverage. Harrison Jr. (6-foot-4, 205 lbs.) has the eighth-most receiving yards (622) with the fourth-highest yards per route run (3.94) vs zone coverage.
The size, athleticism and skill differential all favor Harrison Jr. and a heavy target share should allow him to eclipse 100 yards. Plus, he’s delivered at least 100 receiving yards in every game after he finished under 40 the week prior. With that said, a Wolverines’ defense that has allowed just one passing touchdown inside the red zone in 11 games can be the first team to keep Harrison Jr. out of the end zone since September.
Michigan Wolverines QB J.J. McCarthy finishes under 200 passing yards
Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy looked like a Heisman candidate for most of the season. While he didn’t have eye-popping statistics to match the likes of Jayden Daniels, Bo Nix and Michael Penix Jr., he was leading one of the best teams in college football and was one of the most effective quarterbacks in the nation. However, McCarthy has cooled off in November.
J.J. McCarthy stats by month
|QB Rating||Completion %||TD % – INT %||YPA|
|September||190.4||79%||9.5% – 2.9% – (10-3)||10.2|
|October||213.4||76.6%||12.5% – 0% – (8-0)||11.4|
|November||126.5||63.2%||0% – 1.5% – (0-1)||7.9|
It’s not all that different from last season, when his QB rating fell from 204.5 in September to 134.5 in November, while his completion rate plummeted from 71.6 percent in October to 50 percent in November 2022. Michigan took the football out of McCarthy’s hands against Penn State (7-of-8, 60 pass yards) and it’s fair to wonder if the same will happen on Saturday afternoon.
It’s also worth keeping in mind just how stout the Buckeyes’ defense has been this season. Ohio State’s opponents are averaging the lowest QB rating in college football (92) with the second-fewest passing yards per game allowed (145.3) . Against ranked opponents – Notre Dame and Penn State – Ohio State only allowed 366 total passing yards (183 pass ypg) on 67 attempts (5.46 ypa). Remarkably, opposing quarterbacks completed just 49.2 percent of passes against the Buckeyes’ defense. That’s why this will likely be another poor game for McCarthy, with Michigan relying entirely on its ground game and defense.
Michigan Wolverines win a throwback classic
In the last nine Ohio State vs Michigan games, the victor has scored at least 30 points. It’s been a high-scoring rivalry game, with the two programs averaging 70.8 total points per game in each meeting since 2011. However, this year’s game feels different.
Neither quarterback matches up particularly well against the opposing defense and both teams can exploit the weaknesses of one another’s signal-callers. That creates a ground-and-pound game with long drives that end in field-goal attempts and punts with the occasional red-zone trip and a few big plays.
The Wolverines would certainly benefit from having Jim Harbaugh, but they’re still one of the best teams in college football without him. Ultimately, the team with the better defense and more consistent rushing attack on Saturday will pull out the victory. Ohio State will get a chance to take it home with a game-winning drive, but a McCord interception will seal it and secure Michigan a spot in the CFP.
- Prediction: Michigan Wolverines 23, Ohio State Buckeyes 20