View from the other side: Michigan vs. Ohio State
Michigan at Ohio State
Kickoff: Noon Saturday, Ohio Stadium, Columbus
Records: Ohio State 10-1, 7-1 Big Ten; Michigan 10-1, 8-0
Line: Michigan by 4
Bill Rabinowitz covers Ohio State football for the Columbus Dispatch. He breaks down the Buckeyes for The Detroit News, answering five questions heading into today’s Michigan-Ohio State game at Ohio Stadium. You can follow him on Twitter @brdispatch
View from the other side
►Question: You’ve covered some outstanding quarterbacks at Ohio State, how would you evaluate Dwayne Haskins? How will Haskins handle the pressure from Don Brown’s defense?
►Rabinowitz: Haskins is the best pure passer in recent — and maybe not-so-recent — Ohio State history. He has a strong arm with an easy motion and is usually quite accurate. Until last week at Maryland, he hadn't shown the ability or inclination to run effectively. That key scramble he had last year in Ann Arbor was the kind of play missing from his game. He has gotten better at moving in or from the pocket when there's pressure, but I wouldn't say it's a strength of his game. His inexperience still shows at times, and the ability of Brown to dial up some unusual blitzes should be a major concern for the Buckeyes.
►Question: How different is the Ohio State defense without Nick Bosa?
►Rabinowitz: You can't lose arguably the best defensive player in the country and not have it hurt. Not only was Bosa the focal point of every opposing offensive coordinator, but he made his linemates better because of the extra attention he got. Chase Young and Dre'Mont Jones wouldn't get double-teamed if Bosa were still here. Younger players thrust into action could have been eased in more. It's still a very good defensive line, but on a defense with a shaky back seven, very good hasn't always been good enough.
►Question: The knock on OSU’s offense had been the running game featuring J.K. Dobbins and Mike Weber (Cass Tech). Seems like the run game has improved recently. How has that happened?
►Rabinowitz: A lot of it has just been the determination to make it better. Ohio State got so used to Haskins being able to fling it that it kind of lost its normal identity as a power-running team. After the off week following the Purdue loss, the Buckeyes rededicated themselves to fixing the run game. De-emphasizing run-pass option plays has been part of it. Linemen had been playing too much on their heels. Dobbins and Weber also have run harder. It seems they took the criticism personally.
►Question: A matchup to watch will be Michigan’s Rashan Gary versus OSU’s Isaiah Prince. How will Prince fare?
►Rabinowitz: Prince is big and strong, but edge rushers can give him fits. Minnesota's Carter Coughlin dominated him in the third quarter of that game to the point that Prince was visibly agitated. Prince often tries to time the snap to make sure he gets in his pass sets quickly. At times it looks like he's committing false-start penalties. There's no question that Prince's performance against Gary and other pass-rushers will be a major factor in this game.
►Question: Which coach do you think has more pressure heading into this game — Jim Harbaugh or Urban Meyer?
►Rabinowitz: I think it's Harbaugh. Meyer already has three national championships and a 6-0 record against Michigan. He would love to make it 7-0, especially given the turmoil of this season. But his legacy won't be significantly dinged if he loses once to Michigan. For Harbaugh, who hasn't beaten the Buckeyes and now has what's considered the better team, this is really the make-or-break moment. Beating Michigan State, Penn State and Wisconsin is nice, but this is the one that really matters, especially since the Wolverines haven't won in Columbus since 2000.
Players to watch
►Dwayne Haskins, QB: The 6-foot-3, 218-pound redshirt sophomore is tied for first nationally with 36 touchdown passes. Haskins’ 3,729 yards passing yards is an Ohio State single-season record and is also good for third-best nationally. He has set 12 different single-season school records this fall. He is coming off a 405-yard passing performance with six total touchdowns against Maryland last week to earn his fifth Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week award. Haskins is the first player in Big Ten history to throw for five touchdowns three times in a season.
►J.K Dobbins, RB: He is coming off a career-game at Maryland last week with 37 carries and 203 yards with one touchdown. That was the first 200-yard rushing game by a Buckeye in 39 games, or since Ezekiel Elliott went for 214 against Michigan in 2015. The 37 carries were just seven shy of “Champ” Henson’s 46-year-old school record of 44 set in 1972 vs. Northwestern. The 5-10, 208-pound Dobbins could become the first player in Ohio State history to record 1,000-yard rushing seasons as a freshman and as a sophomore. His 203-yard game vs. the Terrapins increased his season total to 915 yards. He had a school-freshman record 1,403 yards rushing last season.
►Parris Campbell, WR: The 6-1, 208-pound senior receiver ranks fifth in single-season receptions (66) and 14th in career receptions (119). Has multiple receptions in every game this season and is a captain for the second consecutive year. Campbell was a running back in high school and became a hybrid H-back/slot receiver with the Buckeyes. He returned for a fifth year opting not to pursue the NFL early despite being considered a high-round pick.
By the numbers
►Tackling for losses: Ohio State’s defense has taken some heat this year, but is ranked 24th nationally with 80 tackles-for-loss. Dre’Mont Jones leads the team with 12 for minus-63 yards. Chase Young is just behind with 10.5 for minus-59 yards. Young had four tackles and two sacks last week while Jones chipped in with four tackles, two TFLs and one sack against Maryland.
►Big winners: The Game features the No. 1 and No. 2 winning programs in Football Bowl Subdivison history. Michigan has 953 wins and Ohio State has 908. Ohio State and Michigan will meet for the 23rd time when both teams are ranked in the Top 10. The 2016 game also featured a Top10 matchup (OSU No. 2 and UM No. 3).
►Lots of 10s: Ohio State has extended its school record of consecutive seasons with 10 or more victories to seven. The streak is currently third-longest nationally. Schools with consecutive seasons of 10-or-more wins — 1. Alabama (11); 2. Clemson (8); 3. Ohio State (7); 4. 4 Wisconsin (5); 5. Oklahoma and Oklahoma State (3)