Should you bet on Ohio State continuing its dominance over Michigan?

COLUMBUS, OH - NOVEMBER 24: The Ohio State Buckeyes celebrate with Chris Olave #17 of the Ohio State Buckeyes after a first quarter touchdown against the Michigan Wolverines at Ohio Stadium on November 24, 2018 in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
COLUMBUS, OH - NOVEMBER 24: The Ohio State Buckeyes celebrate with Chris Olave #17 of the Ohio State Buckeyes after a first quarter touchdown against the Michigan Wolverines at Ohio Stadium on November 24, 2018 in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images) /

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Ohio State vs. Michigan Odds

  • Spread: Ohio State -8.5
  • Over/Under: 49.5
  • Time: Saturday, 12 p.m. ET
  • TV: FOX
  • Location: Ann Arbor, Mich.

Two months ago, it felt like Ohio State would win ‘The Game’ in a rout. Jim Harbaugh might be laughed off the field.

But the Wolverines have really come around since the second half of their loss to Penn State in mid-October, outscoring opponents 180-52 in that time.

Ohio State has been the best team in the country by many measures, but showed some cracks against Penn State last week.

Will the Buckeyes roll and win their eighth straight in this rivalry, or can Michigan keep this thing close?

Ohio State at Michigan Line Movement

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Despite two-thirds of the bets landing on Ohio State, this line has dropped to Buckeyes -8 after opening -9. There are still some -8.5’s out there as of Friday afternoon.

But this line has moved in a big way since the summer, when Vegas books opened Michigan -3.5 in its Game of the Year lines. The Buckeyes got as high as -13.5 in October lookahead lines, but with the Wolverines improving, it’s dropped a few points.

The total has seen significant movement, as well. After opening 52, it’s dropped to 49.5 despite 70% of the money hitting the over.

Collin Wilson: Is Michigan’s Defense on Par with Ohio State?

The most important angle before Ohio State vs. Penn State was whether or not the Buckeyes’ offensive line would be able to protect Justin Fields, who has been known to hold onto the ball too long.

The Buckeyes have allowed 25 sacks this season (2.27 per game), which ranks 84th in the country. Penn State had three sacks and amassed 10 tackles for loss against the Buckeyes.

Michigan’s defense may be playing better than anybody else in the country right now. After struggling against Middle Tennessee State and Army to start the season, the Wolverines have developed into a formidable defense, ranking eighth in sack rate, 12th in rushing explosiveness, 14th in passing success rate and 21st in rushing success rate.

Michigan may struggle with a number of JK Dobbins rushing attempts in short-yardage situations, but its ability to prevent explosive plays should turn this game into a grind.

Ohio State’s defense is perhaps the only other unit playing as well as Michigan. Field position and finishing drives will be a key to victory in the Big House. Ohio State’s defense is the No. 4 unit at finishing drives (which is defined by points per attempt past the 40-yard line), while Michigan ranks 12th in that same category.

The defenses set this game up for a play on the first-half and full-game under, though it’s lost much of its value by dropping to 49.5. The weather forecasts calls for some rain and wind, which could slow down both passing games.

Stuckey: All Signs Point To the Under

Ohio State has absolutely dominated this series, winning 14 of 15 and going 10-5 against the spread.

I think you’re going to see a heavy dose of the run game from Ohio State and I’d expect Michigan to follow suit with a conservative game script. The Wolverines will want to shorten the game and keep the Ohio State offense on the sideline while neutralizing the dominant Ohio State pass rush.

The Michigan offense has improved over the past two months, but it hasn’t faced a defense like Ohio State yet. There are future professionals all over this unit and the Buckeyes have an elite player at every level — Chase Young upfront, Malik Harrison at linebacker and Jeff Okudah at corner.

The Buckeyes are only allowing 217 yards per game and are on pace to become the first team to allow less than 250 yards per game since the 2011 Alabama Crimson Tide.

But wait, there’s more. Ohio State only allows 3.5 yards per play. Since 2010, only two other teams have allowed fewer than 4 yards per play:

  • 2011 Alabama 3.3
  • 2019 Ohio State 3.5
  • 2012 Florida State: 3.9

Don’t be fooled by Penn State’s 17 points last week. Those scores were gifted. Against this defense, I expect Michigan’s improving offense to look pedestrian again.

I do think the Michigan defense can get to Fields in passing situations to kill some drives. When the Wolverines do force the Buckeyes to punt, Ohio State will rely on its elite punter, Drue Chrisman, to flip the field. Having a good punter is always conducive to an under.

In regards to the side, it looks about right to me. I’d look to Ohio State if this thing dipped below 7, but I’d play Michigan if public money drives this to over 10 on gameday.