On the last weekend of regular-season college football play, there will be the most important Big Ten regular-season matchup between Ohio State and Michigan — fitting, for this rivalry.
Both teams have 9-1 records, and both teams need to win to advance to the Big Ten championship and potentially the College Football Playoff.
Ohio State has been set as a narrow favorite, but with the game at Michigan’s vaunted Ann Arbor Stadium, we should see a competitive matchup.
Below, I go over how I think the game will go and my favorite Michigan vs Ohio State bets.
Ohio State vs Michigan Prediction
What makes Saturday’s game hard to handicap is that both teams have impressive records.
As the 4th-ranked team in the country, OSU suffered its only loss this season at the hand of the 3rd-ranked Oregon Ducks early in the season. The Buckeyes have a rap sheet that includes wins against Penn State and Purdue
Like Ohio State, Michigan has an impressive record with their only loss coming against Michigan State. However, Michigan has yet to beat a ranked team this season.
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Ohio State got off to a slow start this season which isn’t apparent when looking at their record. They lost their starting QB Justin Fields to the NFL and had to replace him with freshman C.J. Stroud.
As evidenced by Clemson’s struggles this season with QB D.J. Uiagalelei, just because a top program can recruit whichever quarterback they want, it doesn’t guarantee that they will be good.
Overall Stroud has 3,036 passing yards, 30 passing touchdowns, only five interceptions, and a 68.8% completion percentage. Most impressively, he has put up these numbers against Big Ten opponents and Oregon.
Unfortunately for Stroud, he must face a strong Michigan passing defense. The Wolverines have only allowed quarterbacks to complete 54.28% of their passes, the 7th-best mark in the FBS and the 2nd-best in the Big Ten.
UM has only allowed 178.4 passing yards per game which is the 9th-best in the FBS and the 2nd best in the FBS.
However, none of the quarterbacks that Michigan has faced this season have been nearly as good as Stroud.
Unlike Ohio State, Michigan will be relying heavily on its running game. The Wolverines currently run on 61.1% of their plays which is the 15th-highest rate in the FBS, and the 2nd-most in the Big Ten.
Unfortunately for UM, OSU gives up 3.1 yards per carry to opposing running backs, the 8th-strongest average best in the FBS, and the third-best in the Big Ten. However, against Wisconsin, who has the best run defense in the country, Michigan won 38-17 despite averaging only 2.5 yards per carry.
It is easy to think that because both teams are good that the game will be close, but Ohio State is a much better team than Michigan. Even on the road, Ohio State should win by more than a touchdown.
Ohio State vs Michigan 2021 Prediction: Ohio State 38, Michigan 24
Ohio State vs Michigan 2021 Best Bets
Best Bet: Ohio State -7.5 (-110) would bet up to -9.5
Wager: 1.5 Units
Ohio State should easily beat Michigan, and I am surprised that they are not favored by more points.
Since Stroud has hit his stride, Ohio State’s offense has been unstoppable. Michigan has put together a good team this season, but the Buckeyes are a legitimate title contender.
Best Bet: Ohio State -13.5 if (+200) or better
Wager: 1 Unit
Many books offer alternative lines where you can either tease (buy points) or reverse (sell points) the spread. Usually, these lines are not available until later in the week, but when they come available, many books offer wildly different prices on these bets.
If a book offers Ohio State -13.5 at +200 or better for Saturday’s game, my advice is to take it. Particularly if you are looking for something to use a risk-free bet on. That is because for risk-free bets you got the most value using it on a longshot such as a money line underdog or an alt-line.