Writers: UM-Ohio State takes back seat to Iron Bowl
For Michigan and Ohio State fans, all eyes are on Saturday for The Game, the annual grudge match between bitter rivals.
But, it’s not the jewel of “Rivalry Week” in college football. Not this season, at least.
That’s according to Pat Forde of Yahoo! Sports and Bill Bender of the Sporting News, who write the Iron Bowl clash between No. 1 Alabama (11-0) and No. 6 Auburn (9-2) offers way more sizzle than the showdown in Ann Arbor.
“It’s huge,” Bender says of Alabama-Auburn. “The SEC West is on the line, and the Tigers have a chance to halt the Crimson Tide’s bid for a four-peat in the SEC. (Quarterbacks) Jalen Hurts and Jarrett Stidham will be in focus. That makes the Iron Bowl the biggest game of the weekend, and it’s not particularly close. What else would you expect on rivalry weekend?”
Michigan-Ohio State checks in at No. 2 on Forde and Bender’s lists, ahead of such in-state tussles as Washington-Washington State, Clemson-South Carolina, Georgia-Georgia Tech, and Mississippi-Mississippi State.
No. 8 Ohio State (9-2) still has a shot at a College Football Playoff spot, with Michigan (8-3) in the role of spoiler with last year’s controversial finish in a double-overtime loss in Columbus still fresh on the Wolverines’ minds.
“The Wolverines can’t win the Big Ten East,” Bender writes, “but they can knock the Buckeyes out of the playoff chase for good. Jim Harbaugh needs this one: Urban Meyer is 5-0 against Michigan. It’s still The Game, just not quite as big as last year.”
Don’t count on it, writes Forde, who predicts a 21-9 Ohio State victory.
“Urban Meyer goes to 3-0 against Jim Harbaugh,” Forde writes, “and the 2017 Wolverines go the entire regular season without a quality win.”
Kickoff Saturday is at noon. The game will be televised by Fox.