ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Each Thursday, WolverineNation will take a look at five storylines heading into Saturday's game. These are five to look for as Michigan heads to Columbus for “The Game.”
1) Hoke vs. Meyer, Round 1. Brady Hoke and Urban Meyer both know this rivalry and its magnitude, they’re both Ohio kids, they both come from the MAC -- sound familiar to anyone? There have been many great coaching matchups in “The Game,” though perhaps this might be one that eventually comes to rival the Bo Schembechler-Woody Hayes years. No doubt a lot is on the line as far as pride and records and recruiting.
2) Al Borges and his offensive plans. Borges has received some heat this season for play-calling and whatnot, but once a pocket-passing QB got into Michigan’s offense, he seemed a bit more comfortable and fans saw the product. Add to that a dynamic, electrifying and dreaded Denard Robinson (pun intended), and Borges is like a kid in a candy shop. His options seem endless and while we got to see against Iowa some of what the Wolverines could do offensively, I think the best is yet to come. Borges, this is your moment.
3) Braxton Miller’s response. As exciting as Michigan’s QB play might be, the OSU QB is pretty dazzling, too. The sophomore has rushed for 1,214 yards and 13 touchdowns. He’s coming off a tough performance at Wisconsin, but Miller and the Buckeyes have had a well-placed bye week to get ready for Michigan. He’s one of the nation’s three finalists for the O’Brien Award, given to the country’s top QB, and with this being Miller’s last performance this season, you can expect he’ll do everything he can to make sure he and his team finish strong.
4) Can Michigan stop Carlos Hyde? Part of why Miller has been so effective as a dual-threat QB is because of the running back he has lining up with him. Hyde has 15 touchdowns and 824 yards this season. The Wolverines’ front seven has struggled with opponents that field multiple running threats (see: Northwestern, Nebraska, Alabama). The Wolverines’ defense can’t let Miller and Hyde run wild, because if they do that bus ride back to Ann Arbor isn’t going to be a happy one. Michigan’s D-line needs to get pressure up front and linebackers Jake Ryan and Kenny Demens need to make plays.
5) Controlling the emotions. Ohio State isn’t going to the postseason, so this is not only a huge rivalry game but essentially its bowl game. Plus, the Buckeys could lay claim to the AP national championship if they remain unbeaten. Michigan, on the other hand, is No. 19 in the latest BCS standings and could earn an at-large bid into a BCS bowl with a win. Anytime there’s this much hatred, respect and pride in one place, it’s going to be exciting. Now, which team can funnel that into focus and execution?