Yahoo Sports’ Dan Wetzel, and Sports Illustrated’s Pat Forde and Ross Dellenger discuss the top 3 showdown between No. 2 Ohio State and No. 3 Michigan on Saturday, and debate if the Wolverines can pull off the upset for the second-straight season.
DAN WETZEL: If Michigan wins a second time, if Michigan comes in with this team-- less talent, but an old school mentality-- and beats and an enormously talented Buckeye team in Columbus, a guy with, like, a 90% winning percentage, all of a sudden, the whole program is rattled.
I want to get to the big one, Ohio State/Michigan, and we'll kind of break down the game more on "Race for the Case" later this week. But the storylines here are delicious.
This will be the most watched game of the year. Two teams are undefeated. Two teams have a shot at the Big Ten. Two teams have a shot at the playoff and all that, and yet those aren't even the most fascinating parts of the game in a lot of ways.
To me, the juiciest part of this is the pecking order here. For a long time, Ohio State's killing them, and then Michigan beats them. And it's sort of like, hey, look, Michigan is going to win eventually, right? You can't win, like, 20 in a row on your rival, although Ohio State tried.
But it was the way Michigan won, and then the way Michigan came back this year with the same system, perhaps even better, and is geared up to play Ohio State.
They are built to try to beat Ohio State. They are not going to try to out-athlete them. It's straight-up, unapologetic, here we come. We are going to smashmouth football you. We are going to be tougher. We are going to be more physical.
We are going to impose your will on both sides of the line. And this is how we're going to win the game. Ryan Day, quick reaction, spends $1.9 million, brings Jim Knowles in to shore up the defense, make it tougher.
This game, though-- if last year Harbaugh was desperate to win because it eliminated the endless jokes that he'll-- and really the perception that his time at Michigan was a complete failure, even though it wasn't a complete failure. They were still pretty darn good.
But how much does Ryan Day need this? Because I think if Michigan wins a second time, if Michigan comes in with this team-- less talent but an old school mentality-- and beats an enormously talented Buckeye team in Columbus, a guy with, like, a 90% winning percentage, all of a sudden the whole program is rattled.
I just think this is just a monstrous event here. Pat?
PAT FORDE: I'm with you. No, I think so. And you could almost hear it from Ryan Day in July at Big Ten Media Days, the sense that last year was a failure, and you can't let that happen again.
The expectations are set so high at Ohio State that you win the Big Ten, you beat Michigan, you compete for the national title. And this year's team, everybody looked at it on paper and said from the get-go, this is our year. This is our chance to win a national title.
We're certainly going to be better than Michigan, which lost several NFL draft picks off the defense, right?
ROSS DELLENGER: Three first-rounders.
PAT FORDE: Right, well, now here we are, and it it's a pretty compelling match-up on paper. I still think for a guy with Ryan Day's record, there's a lot of urgency, I think, on them and on this team to win the game.
ROSS DELLENGER: We've talked about this a little bit just throughout the year, but I'm just excited to watch the two teams that are kind of built differently go against each other and play just a really different style of football.
Michigan is kind of more your throwback team that runs the football. And I don't know what Blake Corum's status is. I saw Harbaugh said he didn't have an update, but that obviously looms large because they run the ball and run the ball well.
I think they're top 12 or so in rushing nationally, almost 250 yards a game. And then of course, we obviously we saw that last year, and we saw Michigan's style come out ahead.
But it's fun to kind of see these teams and the way they're built. And they have the same record, they just-- they get the wins, but they do it kind of in different styles. And yeah, should be an exciting one in the Horseshoe.
DAN WETZEL: Michigan obviously has to have Corum back. Michigan is going to need-- I mean, Ohio State's a better team. They have better players. They have more really good players, is part of it.
I think Ryan Day needs this one desperately, and I don't think he can go on a hot seat. But man, there'll be some grumbling in Columbus if this doesn't pan out quite like that. So it's a huge one.