Football The Rivalry

Ohio State vs. Michigan: Run the Ball, Win The Game

Ohio State Michigan Run The Ball

(If you’re getting a case of deja vu, it’s probably because a version of this feature ran last year.)

The toughest team will win on Saturday.

The smartest team will win on Saturday.

The most physical team will win on Saturday.

Coaches love to spout their own theories on how and why their team is going to win the Ohio State vs. Michigan game.

Before the 2018 edition of The Game, Urban Meyer said, “we have a saying around here: The most prepared team will win the game.”

But history has shown that one factor is more likely than any other to decide whether Ohio State or Michigan will win.

Whoever runs the ball better in The Game, will win The Game.

Going back to 2002, the team that has rushed for more yards per carry in The Game has won. Every single time.

Gerd has pointed out that using raw rushing yards instead of yards per carry, the streak is even longer.

But total rushing yardage can be biased by the state of the game. If you’re winning, you’re more likely to run. If you’re losing, you’re more likely to pass.

Yards per rush is just straight-up “which team is running the ball better.” It’s also a pretty good barometer of which team is winning the battle at the line of scrimmage.

Regardless of opponent, if you can do that, you’re probably going to win.

Since 2002, Ohio State has rushed for as many or more yards per carry than Michigan in 14 games. They are 14-0 in those matchups.

Michigan has only outrushed the Buckeyes on a per-carry basis twice: 2003 and 2011. They are 2-0 in those seasons.

Here’s a chart of the average yards per carry for both teams over that span.

So which team does that favor?

The Buckeyes enter this weekend averaging 5.9 yards per carry, and allowing 2.5 yards per rush.

Michigan enters with an average of 4.0 yards every time they run the ball, and with 2.8 yards per carry allowed.

If you’re a Buckeye fan, those numbers have to look pretty good.

Ohio State is looking to stretch its win streak over Michigan to a school-record eight straight seasons. Can they do it?

Just watch the rushing stats. Odds are, they’ll tell you everything you need to know.

15 Responses

  1. Running the ball without three fumbles, might be a lot more effective. 14 points of our lead was wiped out by fumbles. Hopefully that doesn’t happen again.

  2. FWIW, the weather has pretty much dictated that. In poor weather, three things can happen and two are bad.

  3. And this is why Coach Day ran the ball 60+ times against Penn State – he wanted to let the kitties and those folks up north to know that this team can impose its will anytime, anywhere, on anybody. Doesn’t mean he wont throw the ball successfully, but at the end of the Day he understands that running the football against quality competition is what wins. I like this Coach Day. Go Bucks!

    1. I’m starting to come around to this way of thinking as well. Day chose to run his bread and butter plays to secure the win. He wasn’t worried about style points or opening up the playbook. He just wanted to hang on and win the game. Go Bucks! Beat Xichigan!

  4. A little hoxework to turn in.

    During 2019 we’ve both played 3 of the best D’s at stopping the run- PSU, XichSt and Wisky.
    OSU v. Skunkweasel perforxance against top D vs run in yards (carries):
    Wisky: OSU 264 (50), Skunkweasels 40 (19).
    PSU: OSU 229 (61), Skunkweasels 141 (41).
    XichSt: OSU 323 (49); Skunkweasels 80 (34). Have to adxit, this last one surprised xe a bit.

    So that totals about 816 yds for OSU on 160 carries.
    The Skunks had 261 on 94 carries.
    OSU just about doubled xeatchicken’s run production against solid Ds.

    1. God that looked confusing. Didn’t bother really digging in but I saw a bunch of numbers, parentheses and unrecognizable words……couldn’t of been very good.

      1. SIxple nuxbers. But I get it: xath, like xichigan, sucks.
        So to translate- we run the rock way better than TTUN.

  5. Minnesota won 9 in a row and had a tie before the 9 game win streak, 10 games on a row without a loss, lets get to 8 this Saturday and 9 next year! Going yo have to pass to TE, to open up rushing game. 3 or 4 to 1 rushing to passing should do it!

  6. “the running game” …

    the wide road of the sure faith in traditions of men…

    or strategic deception Facade for… tactical principles applied to situations and plays?

    basic value question: do we ‘feel’ we ‘think’ by our ‘preferences’…

    or do we “play to a standard” greater than ourselves?

    GO BUCKS! Come what may… which will.

  7. The one factor that I don’t see a lot of discussion on is the fact that Fields has never played or been on the sidelines in the M stadium. As confident as they seem to be right now and Fields being a first year starter, this could be a major factor. yes He has never faced this program as a whole, and it will interesting to see how he reacts to it. I hope he comes in with the Haskins mindset.

    1. That means they will rely on Dobbins and Teague a lot to take the pressure off of Justin Fields.

      1. Don I hope you are correct because Berry played more snaps on defense against PSU than Master played on offense.

        I would like to see some play action passing on first down to make it easier on Fields and our O line plus some throws to the running backs.

        Go Bucks!

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