Ohio native Shea Patterson talks about The Game vs. undefeated Ohio State Buckeyes. Filmed Nov. 26, 2019.
Orion Sang, Detroit Free Press

Free Press sports writer Orion Sang breaks down Michigan football’s game vs. Ohio State

Latest Sports News: Fast facts

Matchup: No. 11 Michigan (9-2, 6-2 Big Ten) vs. No. 2 Ohio State (11-0, 8-0).

Kickoff: Noon, Saturday, Michigan Stadium, Ann Arbor.

TV/radio: Fox; WWJ-AM (950), WTKA-AM (1050).

Line: Ohio State by nine.

Latest Sports News: Injury report

Michigan: Out: OT Andrew Stueber (ACL). Questionable:S Brad Hawkins (undisclosed)

Ohio State: Out: WR Kamryn Babb (knee), WR C.J. Saunders (knee), S Ronnie Hickman (undisclosed), DL Noah Donald (undisclosed), WR Ellijah Gardiner (undisclosed), OL Joshua Alabi (undisclosed). Questionable: TE Cormontae Hamilton (undisclosed), DT Brett Novick (undisclosed), RB Marcus Crowley (leg), DT Taron Vincent (arm), DE Jonathan Cooper (undisclosed), S Josh Proctor (undisclosed), OL Matthew Jones (undisclosed), DT Haskell Garrett (undisclosed), OL Gavin Cupp (undisclosed). 

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Latest Sports News: When Michigan has the ball

Ohio State is like the final boss in a video game. The Buckeyes rank No. 1 in total defense, allowing 217.4 yards per game and 3.52 yards per play. They also have the top scoring defense and passing defense. Led by Chase Young and his nation-best 16.5 sacks, Ohio State ranks No. 2 with 47 total sacks. It has forced 23 turnovers, with 14 interceptions and nine fumble recoveries. The Buckeyes also rank No. 5 in rushing defense, allowing 91.2 yards per game and 2.53 yards per rush. Michigan’s offense has improved significantly over the past month and is now playing at a top-10 level, averaging 41.5 points and 422.8 total yards over the past four games. But this will be a very difficult matchup. The Wolverines will have to rely on quarterback Shea Patterson, who is playing the best of his career, and big-play receivers Nico Collins, Ronnie Bell and Donovan Peoples-Jones. Michigan might also have to incorporate more of Patterson in the run game. If the Wolverines are to win, they’ll likely have to air the ball out and create explosive plays. 

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More: Michigan’s receiving corps will test Ohio State’s vaunted secondary

Latest Sports News: When Ohio State has the ball 

Ohio State has the nation’s top scoring offense, averaging 49.8 points. The Buckeyes have accrued 530.4 total yards per game, thanks primarily to the nation’s fourth-best rushing attack, which averages 282.1 yards and 5.88 yards per rush. This is a lethal offense that can both move the ball down the field in steady increments — as it did against Penn State’s top-ranked rushing defense last week — or strike quickly with big plays. Quarterback Justin Fields leads the attack, with 43 total touchdowns (33 passing). Running back J.K. Dobbins has 1,446 rushing yards and 15 touchdowns. And the receiving corps — with Chris Olave, K.J. Hill, Binjimen Victor and Garrett Wilson — has plenty of big-play ability. The offensive line, led by the interior trio of left guard Jonah Jackson, center Josh Myers and right guard Wyatt Davis, has been very good. Those three have been the engine of the powerful rushing attack.

Latest Sports News: Know the foe

Chase Young: The star of the show is Young, the defensive end who might be the most impactful player in the nation this season. Despite sitting out two games due to a suspension, Young leads the nation with 16.5 sacks. He has been an unstoppable force with game-changing ability, thanks to his seven forced fumbles. Young is unblockable 1-on-1 and is a force in the run game. He is one of those players that always seems to be around the ball. Slowing him down will be a high priority for Michigan’s offense.

Justin Fields: Fields’ offseason gambit paid off. After transferring from Georgia and receiving immediate eligibility, the dual-threat quarterback has become the latest star Ohio State quarterback. He has completed 69.4% of his passes for 2,352 yards, 33 touchdowns and one interception. Fields averages 9.3 yards per attempt and has a quarterback rating of 190.3. He also has 445 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns. He has given the Buckeyes elite playmaking ability, both as a thrower and passer, and will be very difficult to stop. Fields has a big arm and has shown solid accuracy and touch, but he might be most dangerous as a scrambler, consistently picking up key third downs and churning out yardage with his legs.

Loaded secondary: The Buckeyes might have four or five future NFL players in the secondary, led by potential top-10 pick Jeffrey Okudah. The former five-star recruit has been one of the nation’s best cornerbacks, with three interceptions and four pass breakups. His counterparts, Shaun Wade and Damon Arnette, are good too, with two interceptions and 11 pass breakups between them. Wade has elite size for the position and has been a lockdown nickel cornerback, while Arnette is an experienced veteran. Safety Jordan Fuller is a reliable player on the backend of the defense. This might be the most talented secondary in the nation, and it’s a key matchup for Michigan, as the Wolverines have a deep receiving corps.

Latest Sports News: Two cents 

Get to Fields: Fields is not completely infallible. Ohio State has allowed 25 sacks, tied for 84th-best in the nation, and while the tackles occasionally struggle in pass protection, Fields carries some of the responsibility by sometimes holding onto the ball too long. He has also struggled with ball security, with eight total fumbles — four of which have been recovered by opposing teams. Michigan has a very good pass rush, with 35 total sacks (tied for No. 12 in the nation); the Wolverines could swing the game by sacking Fields and ending possessions — or even creating turnovers by forcing sack fumbles.

Protect Patterson: Michigan cannot allow Young to win the game for Ohio State. The Wolverines have to do everything in their ability to slow down Young, whether that’s leaving in tight ends or running backs to chip and help out the tackles. A rule of thumb: Quarterbacks play better when given a clean pocket. And that’s especially true for Patterson. According to Pro Football Focus, when given a clean pocket he averages 8.7 yards per attempt with 18 touchdowns and three picks for a 112.9 passer rating. When Patterson is under pressure, he averages five yards per attempt, with three touchdowns and two picks, and a 57.9 passer rating. Michigan must throw the ball to beat Ohio State, and when it does, it must protect the quarterback. 

Latest Sports News: Prediction

The Wolverines are playing their best football of the season. They’re entering this game with more momentum than they ever have under Harbaugh and have played like a top-10 team over