Defensive Confidence Level – 8
The most improved aspect of this season’s Ohio State football team compared to last season is the defense. I fully expect Michigan to be surprised just how difficult it is going to be for them to move the football against this defense when compared to last season.
Ohio State defensively this year is only giving up 144 yards passing and 108 yards rushing per game for a total of 252 yards, which is good enough for third best in the nation behind second-ranked Penn State and this week’s opponent and top-ranked Michigan.
The Wolverines haven’t had as easy of a time the past couple of weeks offensively without their head coach on the sideline, especially in the passing game. In fact, quarterback J.J. McCarthy didn’t even throw a single pass in the second half against Penn State.
Whether that was by design or due to the fact that interim head coach Sherrone Moore didn’t have as much confidence in McCarthy given his perceived injury, the fact remains that Moore chose to grind it out in the second half in State College, Pennsylvania.
I don’t believe that Michigan will be able to do that against Ohio State. At some point McCarthy is going to have to throw the football, and when he does, will it be good enough to move the sticks, keep a drive alive, and eventually score a touchdown if the Buckeyes are loading the box?
All season long, Ohio State’s defensive backfield has played at a championship level. If they can do that again, and force Michigan to become one-dimensional offensively, this is a big advantage for the Buckeyes.
If Ohio State offensively can score in the 30’s, this defense isn’t going to let the Wolverines score more than somewhere in the 20’s and Ohio State will win. I understand that that is a big ask for the Buckeye offense, given its output this season, but if that were to happen, this defense is going to shut the door on a Michigan comeback.
They are disciplined and technically sound, and they have a giant chip on their shoulders as well. If there is one unit from Columbus that wants to prove that the past couple of games against TTUN were a fluke, it would be this defense.
Jim Knowles is once again in the running for assistant coach of the year. A great defensive performance on Saturday will go a long way in aiding Knowles possibly winning the award. My confidence level in this defense is the highest out of any category this week at eight.