Breaking Down 'The Game' – OSU's Passing Game vs UM's Pass Defense
By Tony Gerdeman
COLUMBUS, Ohio — While the Ohio State running game and the lack of a Michigan running game will get the most publicity, how well the Buckeyes throw the ball will go a long way in determining how this game turns out. The Wolverines will be geared up to stop Carlos Hyde and Braxton Miller on the ground. If the Buckeye passing game is on point, Michigan's defense will have to make a decision about which area to continue their focus.
OSU Passing Offense: 216.2 ypg
UM Pass Defense: 236.6 ypg
Braxton Miller is the Big Ten's leader in passing efficiency (165.8) by a ridiculously-wide margin. While he has only thrown for 310 yards total in the last two weeks, he has buoyed that by rushing for 328 yards in that same span. Miller dealt with windy conditions against Illinois two weeks ago, and snow and wind last week against Indiana. It led to two of his worst passing games of the season. The conditions to this point in Ann Arbor seem much more conducive to throwing the ball.
Photo by Jim Davidson
Cornerbacks Blake Countess and Raymon Taylor are solid, and both have made some tremendous plays this season. They are around the ball, though Taylor does tend to get picked on. If they aren't locked up towards the line of scrimmage, then expect to see Miller go with the quick hitches out wide. Rush end Frank Clark is going to be a busy man on Saturday, and tackles Jack Mewhort and Taylor Decker will both have their hands full.
Michigan has had issues defending the pass behind the linebackers, and much of that has been the linebackers' fault. Tight ends have had success against this defense, and the Buckeyes have two very good ones to work with. Jeff Heuerman can be expected to have some catches, and his ability to stretch the field will soften the middle of the back seven.
Photo by Jim Davidson
Ohio State hasn't connected downfield as much as they would have liked the last two weeks, but much of that can be chalked up to weather. They have, however, fallen in love a bit with the quick hitches, and defenses are picking up on that. The secondary will be as close to the line of scrimmage as they dare, which will open things downfield. The Buckeyes play-action on most of their passes, and with the running game that they have, it's usually effective.
Michigan's safeties are pretty unreliable in the deep passing game, and they probably haven't been tested as much as they should have been. The Buckeyes will get everybody involved in the passing game, including Carlos Hyde in the flats. Also, the threat of Dontre Wilson will impact the safeties every time he is on the field. The Wolverines don't have the type of safeties that can correct their mistakes as they're happening, so there are some plays to be made here.
The Buckeyes have the edge here because of the pressure that they will put on the entire width and length of the Michigan defense. The Wolverines will have some successes, but it would be too much to expect them to get the win in this matchup. If they can pressure Braxton Miller, then they could make some noise. The Wolverines however only have 21 sacks on the season. Miller won't go unscathed, but he should have enough time to do what he needs to back in the pocket.
OSU Run vs. Michigan Run Defense
Michigan Run vs. OSU Run Defense
Michigan Pass vs. OSU Pass Defense
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