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Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Ohio State: What Ohio State has that Michigan doesn't

By GUEST BLOGGER Matt Barker from Buckeye Banter

On Saturday, Ohio State and Michigan will meet for the 103rd time on the gridiron in what is the most storied rivalry in all of sports. But the stakes have never been higher since that first meeting between the two schools in 1897.

After the game was moved to the final Saturday of the Big Ten season back in 1935, the heavyweight battle between the two has had a major impact on the conference standings 42 times. This includes 20 contests where both Ohio State and Michigan have decided the Big Ten champion between themselves.

The top two teams in the nation this year, the Buckeyes and the Wolverines, are very evenly matched.

Among the 119 members playing Division I-A football in the NCAA, Ohio State is eighth in scoring offense averaging 35.8 points per game.

The Buckeyes are slightly better in total offense, posting 401.3 yards per game, while the Wolverines churn out 372.1 yards per contest..

Michigan is ranked fifth in scoring defense, allowing 12.1 points per game, though Ohio State leads the nation giving up just 7.8 points per outing.

What Ohio State has, and Michigan doesn't, is an eventual Heisman Trophy winner at quarterback.

Troy Smith, in his two games against Michigan, is 40-of-60 passing for 541 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions. He has also added 182 yards on the ground and two more scores.

All told, Smith has accounted for 723 yards of total offense and five touchdowns in his two starts against Michigan, while the Buckeye offense has averaged 31 points in both Buckeye wins.

Smith has an arsenal of weapons at his disposal, with wide receivers Ted Ginn Jr., Anthony Gonzalez, Roy Hall, Brian Robiskie, and Brian Hartline, to running backs Antonio Pittman, Chris and Maurice Wells.

While Michigan is the top defense in the nation against the run, the Wolverines are just 65th in pass defense allowing 201.6 yards per game.

After Saturday, Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel will have a career record of 5-1 against Michigan.

With all of that said, I wonder at what point during the game that Smith will strike his Heisman pose?

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