Ohio State vs. Michigan: Will The Game’s 2022 Edition Mean a Changing of the Guard in Big Ten East?

Michigan No. 3 battles No. 2 Ohio State Saturday in one of the most intense annual rivalries in all of college football — The Game. Bragging rights, a Big Ten East championship and a potential college football playoff berth are at stake when the Wolverines and Buckeyes take the field.

Something else of great importance could also be up for grabs this weekend in Columbus, Ohio. A second straight win by the Wolverines and head coach Jim Harbaugh would signal a sea change in the division. The state of Ohio is no longer considered a class of the Big Ten East. This moniker would then belong to corn and blue.

This is the first time since 2006 that both teams are 11-0 in The Game in this historic rivalry, and this showdown comes a year after Michigan went on an eight-game losing streak against the Buckeyes en route to its first college football playoff finished appearance. It’s the second year in a row that the winner would be 60 minutes of a Big Ten championship game away from making the four-team field. That’s important, especially for a team like Michigan that has been “the hunted” for so long.

The wolverines were 6.5 point underdog, according to Caesars Sportsbook, head into last year’s game in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and are 7.5-point hounds ahead of their trip into enemy territory this weekend at The Horseshoe. A win would not only signal that Michigan owns the state of Ohio, but has done so while Las Vegas bookmakers have garnered very little confidence.

Harbaugh was asked this week what that monumental win last season ultimately meant for the program.

“Here we are now,” Harbaugh said during his news conference. “And like I just said, those are my thoughts on it. It’s just a real honor. It’s a real honor to be in this position and to be able to challenge yourself physically, mentally and emotionally. We know this is our toughest test of the year. And I think we’re going to find that we’re made of the right stuff.

That sounds a lot like understanding that he’s been fairly tied with Buckeyes coach Ryan Day, even though that Michigan 2022 isn’t as talented on paper as his rival, much like last year.

The Buckeyes rank third in the 247Sports team talent ranking behind Alabama and Georgia, while Michigan ranks 14th. Ohio State quarterback CJ Stroud is the second-ranked passer in the Big Ten with 271.9 yards per game, while Michigan’s JJ McCarthy is 10th (177.5 YPG). The Ohio State defense ranks third in the conference in opponent’s conversion rate (30.41%), while Michigan is fourth (30.41%). Ohio State is the top big ten team in yards per carry despite massive injury woes all year (5.53), while Michigan is second (5.51) despite having a superstar in Blake Corum, Heisman-hopeful, lets run back.

Catch my drift?

If Michigan is able to win the biggest game in series history since 2006 and win another Big Ten East championship, it will be considered the class of the East. It would show that while perceived by many as the smaller team, they have what it takes to overcome those shortcomings to achieve ultimate success not just in the game but throughout the season with a goal on their backs .

Simply put, Michigan would prove it has a better and more stable program on the way, while Ohio state is in a neutral position at best.

That’s pretty remarkable considering this Wolverines program got its wheels spinning before last year’s remarkable run of the College Football Playoffs.



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