The stakes couldn’t be higher for Michigan football, nor could the opportunity be any riper.
Facing a decade of futility against Ohio State, the Wolverines play host to the Buckeyes on Saturday in a game bursting with drama and consequence.
It will be the first time Michigan bettors can wager on the game legally. Retail sports betting began in March 2020 in Michigan, but it was shut down by the pandemic. Then the 2020 Michigan-Ohio State game was canceled. Michigan online casinos and online sports betting launched in January 2021.
The victor between the Ohio State Buckeyes, No. 2 in the latest College Football Playoff rankings, and the No. 5 Michigan Wolverines in Ann Arbor (noon, EST) will win the Big Ten East Division and advance to the Big Ten Championship on Dec. 4 in Indianapolis. A spot in the College Football Playoff will likely on the line. Michigan leads the all-time series, but it hasn’t beaten Ohio State since 2011.
For Michigan online sports betting, Ohio State (10-1) is an 8-point road favorite after trouncing Michigan State, 56-7, last weekend. Meanwhile, the Wolverines (10-1) suffered their only loss of the season to MSU, 37-33, and has won three straight since.
Ohio State on a Roll
The Buckeyes’ lone loss was to Oregon in Week 2 and they have reeled off nine straight wins, propelled by the most furious offense in college football, averaging 47 points and nearly 560 yards a game. The leader of Ohio State’s attack is quarterback C.J. Stroud (36 TD passes, 5 interceptions) and he has several exceptional targets, such as Jaxon Smith-Njigba and Chris Olave, who have combined for almost 2,000 yards and 19 receiving touchdowns.
As it turns out, a strength of Michigan is its pass defense that has held opponents to an average of 178 yards per game. The Wolverine secondary is led by DB Daxton Hill, who has two interceptions, seven passes defensed and 53 total tackles.
Michigan’s defense will also need an assist from the Wolverines’ running game to help keep Ohio State’s potent offense on the sideline. The Wolverine offense features workhorse ball-carrier Hassan Haskins (1,063 yards, 13 TDs) and perhaps, this week, Blake Corum (778 rushing yards, 10 TDs). Corum (high ankle sprain) has been out of action since early November but has indicated he wants to go against the Buckeyes.
Michigan Needs the Victory
For Michigan football, the Jim Harbaugh era has been, well, fine but hardly spectacular leading up to this season. Harbaugh's Wolverines tied for first in the Big Ten East in 2018 but other than that, they have fared no better than third. This season, so far, is a high-water mark for Harbaugh’s tenure but it becomes another good-but-not-great campaign if Michigan comes up short against Ohio State.
Meanwhile, Ohio State has been on a tear and is considered to be the one team that could topple current No. 1 in the polls, Georgia, should the Buckeyes get to have a match-up with the Bulldogs in the CFP.
Ohio State is an 8-point favorite (DraftKings, SugarHouse) and the moneyline is Ohio State -300 (PointsBet) and Michigan +260 (BetMGM Michigan). The Over/Under is 64.5 (BetMGM, Bet365).
Who Will Win?
Prediction: Hill of the Wolverines is a legitimate first-round pick in the next NFL Draft (probably late in the round) but there’s only one of him and Stroud has an array of receiving choices.
Everything has to go right for Michigan to win this game and that includes not turning over the ball. With a plus-minus of plus-7, Michigan has been solid in that category and the Wolverines need to stay that way. If they avoid the big mistake and considering they’re playing at home, the Wolverines should make this interesting. But the Buckeyes just have too much firepower and a full head of steam. Ohio State 34, Michigan 30.