5 Questions: Michigan at Ohio State
This story originally published on BuckeyeSports.com
Braxton Miller
Braxton Miller
BuckeyeSports.com
Posted Nov 21, 2012


Ohio State and Michigan will get it on for the 109th time on Saturday, and there are plenty of subplots to consider. We take a look at five things that could turn the game, including the play of some dynamic quarterbacks and star linebackers.

1. Will Braxton Miller bounce back?

Ohio State’s sophomore quarterback had one of his worst games last week in a 21-14 overtime win at Wisconsin, completing 10 of 18 passes for 97 yards. He managed only 48 yards rushing on 23 attempts, totals affected by three sacks.

Miller also seemed confused at times on the read option and struggled to find open receivers downfield against a Wisconsin defense that preferred to play coverage as opposed to pressure.

It could be a plan the Wolverines mimic as they try to slow down a player who is still second in the Big Ten in total offense at 278.6 yards per game.

"Obviously, I've got to take responsibility because Tom (Herman) and I called that game," head coach Urban Meyer said. "It was not what we want. We want to open this thing up. We have to against this team we're playing. We have to open this offense up and trust that good things are going to happen."


2. How much can Denard Robinson do?

Michigan’s star quarterback missed two games with an injured throwing elbow before starting at running back last week against Iowa. The senior showed he can still be dangerous with the ball in his hands as he rushed 13 times for 98 yards. He also caught two passes for 24 yards, but it remains to be seen if he can throw the ball.

Michigan head coach Brady Hoke told reporters in Ann Arbor this week he is capable but would not go into much detail. Even without hearing that, OSU head coach Urban Meyer said the Buckeyes will operate as if he can hurt them with his arm while also preparing for super sub Devin Gardner.


3. Can the Buckeyes stay ahead of the chains?

Some of Miller’s problems were due to down and distance. The Buckeyes were only 3 for 12 on third down, a figure greatly influenced by how often they had unfavorable distances to make.

They needed seven yards or more on eight of their third downs, including four double-digit distances. Even after taking out a third-and-31, the average distance to go was 7.2 yards.

That is not a formula for success as it allows teams to vary pressures and coverages without concern of the run, and it exposes how much more development Miller needs to make as a drop-back passer.


4. Will tight ends play a notable role?

Ohio State’s tight ends have been off and on contributors as far as catching passes this season, but they could be part of the plan this week.

Iowa’s tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz led the Hawkeyes with eight catches for 99 yards, and his backup Henry Krieger-Coble hauled in three passes for 24 yards, including a 16-yard touchdown in the first quarter before the game got out of hand.

Northwestern also had some success throwing over the middle against the Wolverines a week earlier.

This is a question that could swing either way as Michigan 6-4, 229-pound freshman Devin Funchess presents a big, athletic target for the Wolverines. He enters the game with 13 catches for 201 yards and four touchdowns on the season.


5. Which star linebacker has the biggest impact?

This game features two of the best young linebackers in the Big Ten in Ryan Shazier and Jake Ryan.

Not only are both tackling machines, they have also shown a knack for making plays at times their teams really need them most.

Shazier is second in the Big Ten with 110 tackled and shares the conference lead in tackles for loss (14.5) with teammate Johnny Simon, and Ryan is only 1.5 behind in a fourth-place tie with Indiana lineman Adam Replogle.

With three forced fumbles apiece, Shazier and Ryan are both one off the conference lead in that category, too.


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