Ohio State football: 5 reasons the Buckeyes will beat Michigan

COLUMBUS, OH - NOVEMBER 18: J.T. Barrett /
6 of 6

1. The Wolverines can’t keep up with the Buckeyes’ resurgent offense.

Achieving substantial offensive production has been an issue for the Wolverines for quite some time. They’ve been outside the top 50 in the nation in yards per game since 2012. Interestingly enough, 2011 was the last time the Wolverines were in the top 50 in yards per game and it was also the last time they have beaten the Bucks. Good thing the Wolverines are currently 100th in the nation in total yards per game.

Barrett hasn’t played incredibly well in each of his three match ups against the Wolverines. However, he has made big plays in key moments to ensure a Bucks victory time and again. This trend should continue against this edition of the Wolverines’ defense that has not been intimidating.

Yes, the Bucks have had some poor showings on offense this season but those performances have become far less frequent. The Bucks have put up at least 38 points in every game except for two this season. Incidentally, the two games they did not reach that number resulted in losses. The Bucks currently have the third highest scoring offense in the nation. There hasn’t been a Bucks team with a higher scoring offense in at least the last 15 years.

The issues with the Bucks’ offense in those two losses looked to be the fault of an identity crisis. The Bucks entered the Oklahoma and Iowa games hot with Barrett and the passing game playing well. As a result, the Bucks decided to ride the hot hand and continue to push more onto Barrett’s plate. They just kept feeding the fire until the whole house burned down.

The reality is that playing with a pass-first mentality is the furthest thing from what Buckeye football is about. Yes, Barrett can go on hot streaks but everyone has to remember that his success is ultimately built on the run game. Though it may have seemed otherwise three weeks ago, the Bucks seem to have learned their lesson before it was too late.

One thing that sets the Bucks’ offense apart from the others in the past is their upside. This offense has one of the highest ceilings in recent memory. The setup consisting of a veteran quarterback in Barrett, two fantastic running backs in Weber and Dobbins, and a group of incredibly talented receivers is one that is simply top shelf. At full speed, this offense could outperform any other offense in college football this year.

The downside to that is their low floor. When the Bucks’ offense is bad, it’s very bad. This is evidenced by their 16 point performance against Oklahoma and 21 points against Iowa. Consistency is usually preferred over upside but the upside could come in handy against tougher defenses down the road.

Since the Bucks’ last loss, they’ve put up over 45 points in each game due to a reestablished run game. This run game looks like it has found another gear. Mike Weber has emerged as a major threat. He’s racked up 270 yards and four touchdowns over the last two games. Weber has finally reached full speed after recovering from injury earlier in the season.

Next: Key matchup for The Game

Considering the Bucks’ ability to run and pass the ball effectively, utilizing their punishing run game will serve them well in this match up. The Wolverines rank fifth in the Big Ten in rush defense and first in pass defense. It would be wise to hit them up the middle with key players like Jabrill Peppers, Taco Charlton, Chris Wormley, Delano Hill, Ben Gedeon, and Ryan Glasgow missing from their interior defense. Expect the Bucks to find space to run against the Wolverines’ weakened interior which will also open up some passing lanes for Barrett.