The Michigan-Ohio State rivalry, perhaps the best in college football, hasn’t been much of a rivalry in recent years with the Buckeyes dominating their rivals to the north. But now that Jim Harbaugh has Michigan poised to rejoin the nation’s elite again, this season’s game on Nov. 26 in Columbus could be for a spot in the Big Ten Championship Game and then perhaps the College Football Playoff. Ohio State is currently +750 on NCAA football odds to win a second national title in three years, while Michigan is +800.
A Closer Look at the Michigan vs. Ohio State Rivalry NCAA Football Betting Pick
— Ohio State Football (@OhioStFootball) May 28, 2016
Ohio State lost a ton of talent to the NFL from last year’s team that finished 12-1 following a 44-28 win over No. 8 Notre Dame in the Fiesta Bowl. Here are all the key guys gone: CB Eli Apple; S Vonn Bell; C Jacoby Boren; DE Joey Bosa; OT Taylor Decker; RB Ezekiel Elliott; OT Chase Farris; DT Joel Hale; QB Cardale Jones; LB Darron Lee; WR Jalin Marshall; WR Braxton Miller; LB Joshua Perry; S Tyvis Powell; TE Nick Vannett; DT Tommy Schutt; WR Michael Thomas; DT Adolphus Washington.
More than half of head coach Urban Meyer’s roster is made up of players with zero playing experience in a college game. Only six starters return, with three on each side of the ball. But at least quarterback J.T. Barrett is back and Meyer simply can plug in five-star recruits wherever he needs to. Even with the substantial departures, Ohio State is still the betting lines favorite to win the Big Ten’s East Division.
Harbaugh worked wonders at Michigan last year, inheriting a 5-7 team from 2014 and turned it into a 10-3 squad that punctuated the season with a domination of Florida, the winner of the SEC East Division, in the Citrus Bowl. The defense carried a big load in 2015 but must rebuild at linebacker. Plus coordinator D.J. Durkin left to coach Maryland, with former Boston College coordinator Don Brown taking over.
The big question is at quarterback with Jake Rudock gone. There are three candidates for that job. Junior Shane Morris, who redshirted last year, is the most experienced option with eight games played. Sophomore Wilton Speight is the only other contender who has played in Ann Arbor, and he looked good in relief of Rudock last year in taking Michigan to victory at Minnesota. But the favorite likely is John O’Korn, a transfer from Houston who was AAC Freshman of the Year in 2013.
Last season, No. 8 Ohio State won at No. 10 Michigan 42-13, easily the Wolverines’ worst effort of the season. Elliott had 214 yards rushing and two touchdowns. As a team, Ohio State ran for 369 yards against a defense that entered the game fourth in the FBS against the run (100.2 YPG allowed). UM fell behind early, and Rudock was knocked out of the game when he was sacked and slammed onto his left shoulder.
It was Ohio State’s 11th win in the past 12 game against Michigan. However, OSU wasn’t the Big Ten East champion in 2015 — that was Michigan State, which won an upset in Columbus. The Buckeyes certainly should be favored on NCAA football odds for this game. I have trouble seeing Michigan winning in the Horseshoe.