PROTECT THE PIGSKIN – If the Buckeyes don’t turn the ball over on offense or special teams the Wolverines can’t beat them. The only way Ohio State loses this game is if the Buckeyes beat themselves. Michigan can’t match Ohio State’s offense point for point this season like they did last year in OSU’s 42-41 win in Ann Arbor. Urban Meyer has too many weapons for even the 9th ranked defense in the country to stop in J.T. Barrett, Ezekiel Elliott, Jalin Marshall, Michael Thomas, Jeff Heuerman and Devin Smith just to name a few. If those guys hold onto the ball and don’t give Michigan a short field to work with or cough it up in the red zone and don’t come away with any points, then Michigan can’t beat Ohio State.
A BALANCED OFFENSIVE ATTACK – Urban Meyer and Tom Herman need to use all the weapons I mentioned above on offense. The strength of this Michigan team is on defense so you’re going to need to keep them off balance. Start with the run, mix in some throws, a few option plays, hit them with the play action pass, follow that up with a few jet sweeps and then a deep ball or two. Keep the Wolverines guessing and get everyone involved in the offense. Ideally you’d like to throw for 250 yards and run for another 200 yards in this game.
DON’T GIVE UP THE BIG PLAY – In the last three games Ohio State’s defense has given up touchdown runs of 30, 33, 52 and 90 yards. The Buckeyes need to do a better job of tackling and taking better angles to the ball. Also they can’t go for the “Sports Center” hit of the game. Be fundamentally sound and just “Do Your Job” on defense. In other words, wrap up and tackle. Don’t let quarterback Devin Gardner or wide receiver Devin Funchess take what should be a minimal gain and turn it into a momentum changing “BIG Play”. Joey Bosa, Joshua Perry, Raekwon McMillian and Doran Grant need to lead the way.
YOUNG STARTERS NEED TO HANDLE THE PRESSURE – The Buckeyes will have 13 starters on offense, defense and special teams that are either freshmen or sophomores playing in “The Game”. Those “‘Yutes” (see My Cousin Vinnie for clarification) need to have complete “Focusness” (Jim Thome term) and don’t let “The Game” get too big for them. Keep your composure and don’t go all Marcus Hall on the Wolverines (although that was classic last year) and again just “Do Your Job”, instead of trying to do too much. If they play like that, then these young talented kids should be fine.
BE SOUND ON SPECIAL TEAMS – Nothing gives an underdog more hope and confidence then returning a punt or a kickoff for a touchdown. OSU’s coverage units must stay in their lanes and again just “Do Your Job” and they should be fine. Also, Urban Meyer who is in charge of the special teams units, needs to have his troops on high alert for fake punts, field goals and extra points. The Wolverines have nothing to lose and everything to gain in this game, so you can bet that Brady Hoke will be pulling out all of the stops in what should be his last game as head coach at Michigan.