The Ohio State University hosts Michigan in a battle of top-20 teams at noon Saturday at Ohio Stadium.
The Buckeyes (11-0, 7-0 Leaders Division), who are fourth in the latest Associated Press poll, aren’t eligible for the Big Ten Championship Game or a bowl game, so this is the last time they get to showcase themselves before 2013 arrives.
They could be playing not only for the Big Ten Championship Game, but the BCS Championship Game. They are just one of two FBS teams undefeated in the nation.
But that won’t happen because of NCAA sanctions.
This game usually has much riding on it and this year is no exception.
No. 20 Michigan (8-3, 6-1 in the Legends Division) still has its sights on Indianapolis for the Big Ten Championship Game. They need a win and Nebraska loss Friday to Iowa to have that chance.
The Wolverines slipped a little bit in their second season under coach Brady Hoke, but this is still a dangerous team. I’ll give them props for scheduling Alabama and Notre Dame in the non-conference. They lost both, but Michigan at least gave it a shot.
OSU has won eight of the last 10 meetings between the schools.
The Wolverines broke a losing streak from 2005 to 2009 (the 2010 OSU win was vacated) with a 40-34 victory in Ann Arbor last season.
WHO TO WATCH: This one starts with the quarterbacks.
OSU’s Braxton Miller has 3,064 yards of total offense this season — the third-most in school single season history. He needs 227 yards to break Bobby Hoying’s 1995 record of 3,290 yards... Miller is 19th nationally at 110.3 yards rushing per game... Michigan’s Denard Robinson ranks third in the Big Ten in rushing at 1,044 yards... Wolverines quarterback Devin Gardner is first in the Big Ten in pass efficiency at 190.2.. On defense for the Buckeyes, lineman John Simon tied a school-record with four sacks. He now ranks seventh in school history in both TFLs and quarterback sacks.
WHAT TO WATCH: The Buckeyes are entering unchartered waters. They are seeking to become the sixth team in 123 years of football at OSU to reach perfection.. Wisconsin corralled Braxton Miller and the offense was stagnant.. But the defense made big plays when they needed to, like causing and recovering a fumble on their own 1 and batting down a 4th and 6 pass play in overtime.. Carlos Hyde has rattled off 824 yards and 15 touchdowns, including the game-winner against the Badgers in overtime... The Wolverines have added a new wrinkle in lining up Robinson, who missed two-plus games with nerve damage in his right elbow, at running back against Iowa. Junior Gardner, the heir apparent to Robinson, is 46-of-70 for 834 yards in three games this season with seven touchdowns and three interceptions.
PREDICTION: OSU 28, MICHIGAN 24: The Buckeyes struggled mightily against Wisconsin, while the Wolverines are a three-game winning streak. OSU is playing for pride. I look for somebody other than Miller to make a key play and the Buckeyes to go 12-0.