Here we go. THE GAME.
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— Ohio State Buckeyes (@OhioStAthletics) November 27, 2019
As someone who vividly recalls watching this play as it happened, yes, I am well aware of the historical difficulties of going up to Ann Arbor. The hauntings of 1993, 1995, 1997, and 1999 have left their mark on my psyche, as well as the collective Ohio State fanbase. Yes, I can guarantee you that my personal DVD copy of this HBO special will be watched repeatedly in the Minnich household.
My man Michael Citro (@Mike36fan) laid out all of his reasons for concerns going into THE GAME on our latest Silver Bullets Podcast. Below are the three areas I will be focused upon when this all kicks off at 12pm EST on FOX…
1. Michigan’s Running Game Versus Ohio State’s Defense ~ Tom Orr’s article about this is so direct and to the point that it would be foolish to try and replicate it here. Needless to say, if the Wolverines are going to be in this game, how effective true freshman RB Zach Charbonnet (635 yards, 4.8 yards per carry) and Hassan Haskins (483 yards, 5.3 yards per carry) are against an Ohio State defense that is giving up an average of 91 yards per game on the ground will be what I am most focused upon throughout the game.
2. Who Will Cover Michigan’s Tight Ends? ~ Nick Eubanks (22 receptions for 198 yards, 9.0 yards per reception, 3 touchdowns) and Sean McKeon (10 receptions for 169 yards, 16.9 yards per reception, 2 touchdowns) may represent a safety valve for Wolverines quarterback Shea Patterson. Last week, Pete Werner was called upon to shut down Penn State’s Pat Freiermuth, and did a terrific job in neutralizing him. Will the Wolverines come out in two tight end sets, and if so, who else besides Werner will be involved in possible coverage?
3. Which Shea Patterson Is Going To Show Up? ~ Patterson has been on a tear lately, feasting upon Maryland, Michigan State, and Indiana over the last three weeks. While taking nothing away from those teams, the Ohio State defense is statistically superior, and Patterson has shown a tendency to turn the ball over at critical times during his career. Can Ohio State’s pass rush force Patterson into earlier throws that are either incomplete or intercepted?