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No. 3 Ohio State visits rival Michigan Saturday
By: Mark Kern - StatFox
Published: 11/30/2013  at  4:34:00 AM
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OHIO STATE BUCKEYES (11-0)
at MICHIGAN WOLVERINES (7-4)

Kickoff: Saturday 12:00 p.m. ET
Line: Ohio State -14.5, Total: 58

No. 3 Ohio State is one game away from going undefeated in the regular season for a second straight year, but to achieve this feat, it must knock off rival Michigan at the Big House on Saturday afternoon.

This has always been one of the fiercest rivalries in the country, and the Buckeyes won a wild game last season by a score of 26-21. However, the two teams are going different directions this season, as the Buckeyes (6-4-1 ATS) still have a realistic chance of playing in the national championship. QB Braxton Miller (1,626 pass yards, 19 TD, 4 INT) has continued to improve throughout the season, and is playing as well as any quarterback in the country. Miller gets a lot of the talk for good reason, but RB Carlos Hyde (1,064 rush yards, 13 TD) has been a star this season. The balance on the offensive end has made the Buckeyes' offense nearly impossible to slow down, and they look to carry that momentum against their rivals up north. The Wolverines got off to a great start in 2013, winning six of their first seven games with the only blemish being a quadruple overtime loss to Penn State. However, things have spiraled down hill as of late, as they have lost three of their past four games. A large reason is because of their inability to score, as they have posted only 49 points over their past four games. That offense is also the same reason why the past four Wolverines games have finished Under the total. Michigan QB Devin Gardner (2,509 pass yards, 17 TD, 11 INT) has had some highlight moments, but has been too inconsistent throughout the season. Ohio State, which is 11-3 ATS when facing a winning team since the start of 2011, cannot afford to overlook Michigan, which is 6-0 ATS after gaining 125 passing yards or less in its last game in this same timeframe.

Can Ohio State complete a second straight perfect regular season? For the answer, connect to College Football Best Bets for all the StatFox Experts picks throughout the 2013 regular season and bowl season. The four experts are a combined 52% ATS (109-101-7) in college football Best Bets for the season, led by StatFox Dave who is 59% ATS (33-23-2) in Best Bets this season, including 69% ATS (20-9-1) during a run of eight straight weeks of .500 or better. StatFox Brian is 54% ATS (30-26-1) in college football Best Bets this year.

Urban Meyer has put the Buckeyes back on the map as one of the best teams in the country, having been able to bring in more speed to the Ohio State program. The offense currently ranks third in the nation in scoring (48.7 PPG) and fifth in rushing yards (314.7 YPG). RB Carlos Hyde destroyed Michigan in last year's win, piling up 146 yards and a touchdown on 26 carries (5.6 YPC). QB Braxton Miller added 57 yards on the ground versus the Wolverines and was very efficient through the air too, completing 14-of-18 throws for 189 yards (10.5 YPA), 1 TD and 0 INT. Wide receiver Devin Smith (40 catches, 591 yards, 7 TD) has the ability to make the big play at any given moment. Earlier this season against California, he caught a 90-yard touchdown, showcasing elite speed and playmaking ability. Smith is also a great route runner that complements QB Braxton Millerís scrambling ability very well. The offense has been terrific the entire season, but the defense has struggled at times. Although the Buckeyes allow just 18.4 PPG (8th FBS), they have been susceptible to giving up the big play through the air. However, CB Bradley Roby (54 tackles, 3 INT) is one of the most talented defensive backs in all of the country. He does a great job of playing against the run, but has the speed and athleticism to blanket wide receivers. The one weakness that he and the rest of the secondary have had is too often going for the big play, and in turn, giving up a lot of yards. That could be a problem as the Wolverines, despite their struggles, have a big-time home run threat at wide receiver in Jeremy Gallon.

Gallon (71 catches, 1,109 yards, 8 TD) has been the most consistent player for the Wolverines offense this season. On Oct. 19 against Indiana, he set a Big Ten record with 369 receiving yards, showing he can take over a game. He is not the biggest target at 5-foot-8 and 187 pounds, but he is not afraid to go over the middle and make the tough catch. In last year's loss to OSU, he caught six passes for 67 yards. For the Wolverines to stay in this game, they are going to have to get big contributions from RB Fitzgerald Toussaint (613 rush yards, 11 TD) who has been nearly non-existent in his past three games (all losses) with 23 carries for 38 yards. He must get back to his early season form for the Wolverines to have any chance of pulling off the upset, and the defense must also put forth a huge effort. The Michigan defense currently ranks 52nd in the country in points allowed (25.1 PPG), but has played much better as of late. Junior DB Blake Countess (43 tackles, 5 INT) has the ability to shut down the opposing teamís best receiver, which in this case will be Devin Smith. If Countess is able to contain Smith, that will go a long way towards the Wolverines spoiling their rival's dream season.

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