The Game: 3 Key OSU/Michigan Matchups in 2012

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With exactly 100 days left until The Game, and with my excitement for this OSU season currently at a Spinal Tap 11, I thought that I’d throw out three of my favorite matchups to watch for this year between these hated rivals.

(Editor’s note: While I realize that Brady Hoke vs. China Dynasty’s buffet on West Lane is a much-anticipated battle, it will not make this year’s list.)

Jake Stoneburner (WR/TE) vs. JT Floyd (CB)

When he’s not making headlines for peeing on stuff, Jake Stoneburner is a dynamic player with a tremendous work ethic, and has the potential to earn his way back into a crucial role on the OSU offense.  The coaching staff recently reported that Stoneburner may still line up occasionally as a tight end, but will spend the majority of time as a wide receiver.  Stoneburner was named to the John Mackey Award watch list, given to the best tight end in the country, but will aim to move his athleticism out wide for his senior season.

JT Floyd, like many current Wolverine players, came in during the dark days of Rich Rod in 2008 (or ‘bye weeks’ as OSU fans refer to them).  Despite not being heavily recruited by many other programs, the South Carolina native has decent speed, has improved his coverage skills with each passing year, and should continue to improve again under the current coaching regime.  Floyd led the Wolverines with 2 interceptions and 8 pass breakups, had 48 tackles, and a forced fumble.

What makes this matchup intriguing to me is that UM does not have a tremendous amount of size in their defensive backfield, so adding another tight end to the field and moving Stoneburner to wide receiver could help OSU exploit that weakness.  Measuring in at 6’, Floyd is the tallest starting DB for the Wolverines, while Stoneburner is currently listed at 6’5”.

Aside from the height advantage, Stoneburner will be much more of a load to bring down than previous wide receivers that Floyd will have faced, since he will be giving up about 60 pounds to the former tight end.

If TSUN decides to try and cover Stoneburner with anyone other than a corner (especially a linebacker), this will create some horrific matchups in speed, as he can still run even with most other wide receivers.

The final component in this matchup is the fact that both players are heading into their senior seasons, and both will have similar, but different goals in The Game.  Floyd will be hoping to keep UM’s chances for a B1G title alive and looking for a potential BCS bowl game to cap his year, and Stoneburner will hope to play spoiler, send the Wolverines home with an ‘L’, and boost his NFL draft stock simultaneously.

Key matchup stat – Jake Stoneburner – 6’5”, 245 lbs VS. JT Floyd – 6’, 183 lbs

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