Ohio State-Michigan could be a low-scoring game

Michigan operating again Blake Corum is preventing an harm heading into this 12 months’s Ohio State game. (Washington Post illustration; Carlos Osorio/AP)


This column’s late-season slide continued final weekend with a 1-2 end (the Buffalo-Akron game was snowed out), so we’re all the way down to the ultimate week of the common season, championship week and the bowl video games to complete robust. At 23-23-1 on these picks, there’s nonetheless a probability to complete above water.

no 2 Ohio State vs. no 3 Michigan, beneath 57 factors, midday Saturday, Fox

For all of the discuss of Michigan’s weak schedule, it isn’t like Ohio State has been all that challenged, notably by groups with robust defenses. On common, the Wolverines’ opponents have a defensive SP+ rating of 63.3, whereas the Buckeyes’ foes have a mean defensive SP+ rating of 57.5. (SP+ is an opponent-adjusted measure of effectivity.) Michigan’s protection ranks fourth in SP+, and Ohio State’s is tenth.

Yes, on Oct. 22, Ohio State put up 54 factors on Iowa, which has the nation’s second-ranked protection when it comes to SP+. But let’s take a have a look at how that game performed out. The Buckeyes had an absurd six drives starting in Hawkeyes territory — the byproduct of three Iowa turnovers, two turnovers on downs and a punt from their very own 2-yard line — and scored on all six. That sort of beginning area place, abetted by a horrible Iowa offense, is unlikely to copy itself Saturday towards a Michigan protection that ranks fifteenth in red-zone landing fee allowed.

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Michigan, which runs the ball 61.5 p.c of the time (eleventh nationally), put up solely 27 factors on Iowa and obtained outgained by the Hawkeyes’ terrible offense when it comes to yards per play (5.1 to five). In final weekend’s 19-17 win over Illinois (No. 3 in SP+ protection), Michigan was once more held properly beneath its season common when it comes to yards per play, gaining solely 5.1 within the slender victory. Something would possibly be damaged with its offense.

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Throw in potential accidents to Michigan operating again Blake Corum (national-best 19 touchdowns, No. 3 in complete yards) and Ohio State operating backs TreVeyon Henderson and Miyan Williams, and this looks like a dead-under rock battle between rivals not all that accustomed to dealing with robust defenses.

Illinois (-14.5) at Northwestern, 3:30 pm Saturday, Big Ten Network

The 1-10 Wildcats have scored 9, three and 7 factors of their previous three video games. They rank 116th in offensive success fee. How are they going to attain towards an Illini protection that permits 1.33 factors per drive (seventh nationally) and simply held Michigan, a College Football Playoff hopeful, to a season-low 19 factors?

Northwestern is not significantly better defensively, rating 106th in success fee towards the run, and Illinois operating again Chase Brown is No. 3 within the nation at 143.8 dashing yards per game.

It actually is so simple as “Wildcats unhealthy.” Northwestern was in a position to put up 13 factors on Iowa’s robust protection Oct. 29, however one landing got here after the Wildcats began a drive on the Hawkeyes 34 and the opposite got here with no time remaining and the game was determined. We danger a letdown spot after Illinois let Michigan slip away final weekend (thanks partially to a no-call late within the game that left Coach Bret Bielema salty), however I feel the Illini end robust heading into their bowl game (and so they could nonetheless win the Big Ten West with a win plus losses by Iowa and Purdue).

College Football Playoff rankings: LSU holds off USC for No. 5 spots

no 15 Notre Dame (+5.5) at No. 6 USC, 7:30 p.m. Saturday, ABC

The Trojans’ protection has been getting by on smoke, mirrors and turnovers. USC has a national-best 18 interceptions and has recovered six of its opponents’ 9 fumbles. On offense, it has recovered its ballcarriers’ fumbles seven instances out of eight. Add all of it up, and the Trojans have come out on the great facet of 13 of 17 fumbles, a extremely unbelievable fee.

Notre Dame has fumbled the ball solely 9 instances (tied for 14th) and runs it 42 instances per game, and whereas its dashing assault is not all that explosive (4.57 yards per carry), it has been efficient at transferring the chains, rating thirtieth in success fee.

USC’s dashing protection ranks 126th in success fee and 128th in anticipated factors added per rush, and the Trojans cannot intercept the ball if the Fighting Irish maintain it on the bottom. Add in turnover luck ultimately operating out — USC has 4 one-score wins, video games during which it mixed for 10 takeaways — and I like Notre Dame to maintain it shut.

no 16 Florida State vs. Florida, Florida State crew complete over 33.5 factors, 7:30 pm Friday, ABC

The Seminoles’ offense is beginning to hum, scoring 41, 45, 38 and 49 factors over its previous 4 video games, all victories, and averaging at the very least 6.7 yards per play in three of them.

The Gators’ protection will be shorthanded, notably within the first half. Linebacker Ventrell Miller, a sixth-year senior and crew chief on protection, will miss the primary half after he was ejected for focusing on towards Vanderbilt, whereas security Rashad Torrence II appears prone to miss the game after struggling an harm towards the Commodores.

Vanderbilt put up 31 on Florida final week, and it simply could have been worse — the Commodores had drives finish on the Gators’ 24- and 21-yard traces due to an interception and a fumble. The Seminoles ought to rating simply as simply Saturday.

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