John O’Korn never looked comfortable in his first start for Michigan, and while coach Jim Harbaugh praised him after the game, it is hard to overlook how he rarely got his feet settled and looked in command in the 20-10 win over Indiana. It is unclear whether starter Wilton Speight will be ready to play this Saturday, but Ohio Stadium is quite simply a different beast, and the Wolverines’ best bet at this stage is Speight. Credit goes to O’Korn for that 30-yard scramble that got things going for Michigan against Indiana, and credit goes to him for not turning over the ball. But his game-changing moments were limited and your quarterback needs those in a game like Michigan-Ohio State.
Kenny Allen has been among the Wolverines’ most consistent players the last five weeks. You might remember Allen, who handles all the kicking, from his early-season field-goal struggles. During a three-week stretch he missed four-of-five field goal attempts. But in the last five games, including the two field goals he made against Indiana, Allen has made all 10 tries. That also includes a career-best 51-yarder at Iowa. His leg absolutely will come in handy at Ohio State. He said Saturday he relishes the opportunity to attempt a game-winner.
Taking the field
Special teams get another shout-out after deflecting two Indiana punts and also downing two of Allen’s punts inside the 5-yard line, including one at the 1-yard line. As the offense operated with new quarterback O’Korn, who made his first Michigan start, the field-position game carried an even greater importance.
De’Veon Smith won’t go down as one of the all-time great Michigan running backs, but his ability to wear down defenses, pass protect, and get important yards should not be undervalued. When the Wolverines needed him most against Indiana, Smith came through in a major way, his final salute to the home crowd. His 158 rushing yards and two touchdowns were the boost the offense needed. Smith will be needed to come up big at Ohio State.
Michigan vs. Barrett
Michigan’s defense has been giving up some big plays in recent weeks, but it has been more than reliable in the most challenging of moments. An important second-half sequence started with Michigan’s goal-line defense holding the Hoosiers to a field goal after they had reached the 5-yard line. On the Wolverines’ next possession, Smith scored. Indiana has a capable quarterback and receivers, and they combined for 191 yards, while the Hoosiers gained only 64 yards rushing. OSU quarterback J.T. Barrett takes a different level of preparation than any player the Wolverines will face, Michigan nose tackle Ryan Glasgow said. Michigan’s defense against Barrett will be the key Saturday.