“In the order of nature we cannot render benefits to those from whom we receive them, or only seldom. But the benefit we receive must be rendered again, line for line, deed for deed, cent for cent, to somebody.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
Legendary Ohio State head coach Woody Hayes frequently quoted Ralph Waldo Emerson, stressing to his players the importance of paying forward. While I cannot ascertain if Emerson was a football fan, I do believe that a quote from one of Coach Hayes’ favorite poets seemed appropriate to include this week, as THE GAME will kick off on November 25th, two days after Thanksgiving. Best wishes to everyone for a safe and happy Thanksgiving.
A sense of gratitude and thanksgiving is also important for Ohio State fans, as it relates to THE GAME. Tom Orr did a tremendous job of reminiscing about Ohio State’s recent domination of ‘That Team Up North’ from 2001 to 2016, as Ohio State has won fourteen times.
As Tom pointed out, the 2001 victory in Ann Arbor was the first time Ohio State had accomplished that feat since 1987. This game will mark the 30th anniversary of that 1987 victory, when Earle Bruce concluded his Ohio State coaching career, and some young up and coming graduate assistant named Urban Meyer was sporting a mustache that could only be described as dashing.
Gratitude, my friends. Those of us who can recall that 1987 win, and recall the bitter era of the rivalry that took place after it from 1988-2000, certainly look at any and all wins over Michigan with immense gratitude, and take nothing for granted in this heated rivalry.
There are always more than three things to keep an eye on whenever THE GAME is played, but here are three key areas I will be focusing upon when Gus Johnson and Joel Klatt begin the play by play on FOX at 12 pm EST on November 25.
Michigan’s Use Of Tight Ends Against Ohio State
As Tony Gerdeman pointed out in his latest Michigan Monday, Michigan routinely used their tight ends against Wisconsin as receiving options. Considering how poorly Ohio State covered the tight end in their losses to Oklahoma and at Iowa, it would figure that the Wolverines will look to do the same. Michigan tight ends Sean McKeon and Zach Gentry have combined for 40 receptions and 4 touchdowns this season, and could create some match-up dilemmas for Ohio State’s linebackers and secondary.
Keep An Eye On Michigan’s Khaleke Hudson
The second-leading tackler on the Wolverines with 67 tackles, Hudson lines up in the Viper position for Michigan, a combo linebacker/safety position. On our most recent edition of The Silver Bullets Podcast, Toledo Blade writer Kyle Rowland predicted that Michigan would use Hudson as a spy on Buckeyes quarterback J.T. Barrett, in an effort to neutralize the threat of Barrett’s mobility.
Michigan’s Defensive Line Against Ohio State’s Offensive Line
The strength of the Michigan defense, with players such as Rashan Gary, Maurice Hurst, Chase Winovich, and Aubrey Solomon, will look to clog the lanes for the Ohio State running game, and keep J.T. Barrett from getting outside of the pocket. Last year, the Ohio State offensive line, especially right tackle Isaiah Prince, were repeatedly victimized by Michigan in passing situations. Wisconsin was able to eventually wear down Michigan in the second half of their recent game with their strong offensive line, and Ohio State will try to do the same.