Schedule preview: Michigan
Wolverines ended series losing streak in 2011; Buckeyes will try to start new one
Michigan at Ohio State
Nov. 24, at Ohio Stadium (noon, ABC)
About the Wolverines
2011 record: 11-2 (6-2 Big Ten)
Ohio State all-time against Michigan: Wolverines lead 58-43-6
Last year: The Wolverines defeated the Buckeyes for the first time since 2003 in an electrifying shootout at Michigan Stadium, intercepting Braxton Miller on Ohio State's last possession to clinch a 40-34 win.Top returners: LT Taylor Lewan, RG Patrick Omameh, QB Denard Robinson, WR Roy Roundtree, LG Michael Schofield, RB Fitzgerald Toussaint, CB J.T. Floyd, LB Kenny Demens, FS Thomas Gordon, SS Jordan Kovacs, LB Desmond Morgan, DE Craig Roh, LB Jake Ryan[+] EnlargeLeon Halip/Getty ImagesDenard Robinson and Michigan will have a series winning streak going into The Game for the first time since 2004.
Key losses: WR Junior Hemingway, RT Mark Huyge, TE Kevin Koger, C David Molk, WR Martavious Odoms, DT Will Heininger, DT Mike Martin, DE Ryan Van Bergen, DB Troy Woolfork
2011 statistical leaders (* denotes returners)
Rushing: Robinson* (2,173 yards, 20 touchdowns, 15 interceptions)
Passing: Robinson* (1,176 yards, 16 touchdowns)
Receiving: Hemingway (34 receptions, 699 yards, 4 touchdowns)
Tackles: Demens* (94)
Sacks: Van Bergen (5.5)
Interceptions: Floyd* and Courtney Avery* (2)
What they're saying: "We have direct goals ahead of us and what we want to do, and we're excited about that. Our schedule is one that is a great opportunity and a great challenge for us. We play 10 out of 12 teams that are bowl teams. We play five of those teams on the road. And so for us it's going to be a great challenge and a great opportunity." - Michigan coach Brady Hoke
Three things to watch
1. The finale: Perhaps it's not really possible to place more importance on The Game than Ohio State and Michigan already do annually. But if ever there was a reason for the Buckeyes to get amped up even more, this qualifies. For Ohio State, there won't be a conference championship game to qualify for and there isn't going to be a bowl game, so the final week of the regular season will be the last chance to make an impression and start building momentum for Urban Meyer's second season. The loss of bragging rights to Michigan a year ago might come up as well.
2. Double-Double: There might not be a better combination of dual-threat quarterbacks dueling against each other all year than Miller vs. Robinson to close the season. The two put on a pretty good show in their only meeting the first time around, with Miller establishing a career-high with 235 yards passing while rushing for 100 more and Robinson carrying for 170 with 167 more yards through the air. Both are more experienced now, and Miller in particular figures to benefit from the change to a spread offense -- which could lead to even more fireworks in The Game.
3. Turnover battle: The Buckeyes have made it clear they're expecting more in the secondary this fall, going so far as punishing defensive backs with pushups for dropped interceptions even when a ball is tipped or deflected. If there was a chink in the armor of Robinson last year it was his high number of interceptions -- 15 in 258 attempts. Ohio State will have had plenty of opportunities to show improvement in the back end before the final week of the season, but those defensive backs might play the most important role in determining the outcome.
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