Opinion: This could be the year for Michigan football against Ohio State




 

Michigan defeated Maryland on Saturday, 59-18. There is only one thing left stopping the Wolverines from getting to their first Big Ten Championship game - the Ohio State Buckeyes.

Michigan has not defeated Ohio State since 2011, and the Wolverines have for the most part been outmatched in the majority of the years - save for seasons like 2016, for example.

But this is a different year, a different feeling, and a different team. Things feel more, well, promising. This team has done so much more than anyone thought it could do. Michigan is now sitting at 10-1 when the Wolverines win over/under for the season was only at 7.5 wins. This team has already exceeded expectations and we're not even at the end of the season.

I wrote last week about how Michigan has figured out how to win tough games again, and I gave a ton of credit to the new coaching staff - it has paid dividends. The Wolverines didn't even remotely appear to be looking ahead to Ohio State on Saturday against Maryland, they were locked in. That is something that previous teams could have been prone to do. In the past, Indiana has been the game that was regularly played before the Buckeyes, and the Hoosiers would give OSU a blueprint on how to defeat Michigan. The staff had this team locked in from the start and there was no good blueprint to give to the Buckeyes this week.

I have no idea if Michigan will beat Ohio State next week, but this has the feeling to be the year that it could actually happen. If the Wolverines have any shot to do so, then they will need to play an almost flawless game of football.

Ohio State is still, well Ohio State - it's an offensive juggernaut and can outscore any team in the country. Michigan cannot find itself trying to get into a shootout with this team, it needs to stick to what the Wolverines have created as an offensive identity: run the ball and sustain drives.

The object next week is to take care of the ball, move the ball, and keep the ball out of Ohio State's hands as much as possible. The Buckeyes will score and may score a ton, but if Michigan can be true to itself and do what it has done in every game this year - even the MSU game - then the maize and blue have a great chance of capping this year off in a special way.

The Michigan offense has been known to be extremely conservative this year, which at times has been awful to watch for fans. When this team creates a lead, it's usually satisfied with that lead and leans on the defense to make stops while running up the middle to kill the clock. We saw a different Michigan team on Saturday against the Terps - this team had a killer instinct.

The Wolverines had a 24-3 halftime lead over Maryland on Saturday, but they came out hungry and even showed the Buckeyes some trickery. The Jim Harbaugh-led team had a different approach to red zone offense, it was aggressive, and the Wolverines pulled out a kick return trick-play in order to take one back to the house for a touchdown.

If this same Wolverines team can show up next Saturday against the Buckeyes, the same exact one we saw on Saturday, and the players come hungrier than ever, then why can't this be the year? It's going to be a tall task, there's going to be ups and downs next week, but if Michigan can stay within itself for 60 minutes and stay committed to the plan, then hey, anything can happen.

List

3 things we learned about Michigan after defeating Maryland

 
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