It is the week of The Biggest "Big Game" and, therefore, everyone is pulling out all the stops. Things are no different here at Michigan Football Saturdays where, for the first time, I am publishing a post on this blog authored by someone other than myself. I invited the most knowledgeable Wolverine football fan I know to give his analysis of this Saturday's game. Without further ado, here is football guru Mike Rossi's take on The Biggest "Big Game":
Forget history. Forget precedence. Forget Jim Tressel’s apparent choke hold over Lloyd Carr in the past five seasons, going 4-1. All past games in the storied rivalry between Michigan and Ohio State become irrelevant when surveying the matchup between the two top ranked teams this weekend. Michigan hasn’t had a dominant defense and offensive juggernaut like this since 1997, the year they pulled away from Ohio State, winning 20-14, and going on to win (split, for Nebraska fans) the National Championship.
This time around it will be Chad Henne, Mike Hart, Mario Manningham, Lamar Woodley, and Leon Hall leading Michigan in place of Brian Griese, Anthony Thomas, and Charles Woodson. Lloyd Carr has done a remarkable job of fixing the problems this season that began to tarnish his legacy in recent years. Last week against Indiana, Carr proved he had a game plan to contain a rushing quarterback, holding Kellen Lewis to 11 rushes for only 5 yards. Troy Smith will pose a much larger threat behind Ohio State’s offensive front, but Ron English seems prepared and armed with a defense led by Lamar Woodley and Leon Hall. Another key for Michigan will be its running game. Ohio State has only allowed an average of 90 yards per game this season, while Michigan hopes to see Mike Hart, fourth in the country in rushing yards, have another big game in his best season yet. One big question mark for Michigan will be its breakout receiver, Mario Manningham. Averaging 20.7 yards per reception, 9 of his 26 receptions have been for touchdowns. However, since his arthroscopic knee surgery in October, Manninghman only has two receptions for 11 yards, which came last weekend against Indiana. If Manningham is at full health, his big play making ability will allow Michigan to spread the field and set up its potent running game. As any matchup between these two teams, the score is virtually unpredictable, but I’ll predict a Michigan win at 24-23. If Lloyd Carr can beat Jim Tressel at the Horseshoe in the biggest game of his coaching career, it will make this season the most unforgettable for Michigan and Ohio State fans alike. Go Blue!
Thanks again to Mike Rossi for taking the time to provide his analysis for Michigan Football Saturdays. Come back anytime, Mike!