1. Michigan leads the series 57-43-6, but The Ohio State University has won the last six.
2. The Buckeye defense is ranked fourth nationally (first in the Big Ten) in points allowed at 13.9 per game and the Wolverines are 15th in points scored at 36.8.
3. OSU’s offense is scoring 39.6 points per game, good for ninth nationally and Michigan is giving up 33.5 points per outing (ninth in the Big Ten).
4. The Buckeyes are second in the conference in turnover margin at plus-1.09, while Michigan is tied for 10th at minus-0.64.
5. The Wolverines top the Big Ten in sacks against at 10, while the Buckeyes are 10th with 21.
OSU wins 35-21
Whether The Ohio State Buckeyes had won or lost against Iowa Saturday, the game with Michigan was going to be played.
The Buckeyes, though, did themselves a big favor with a late-charge and subsequent 20-17 win over the Hawkeyes at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City.
Now, as OSU is preparing for Michigan at noon Saturday at Ohio Stadium, its looking for at least a share of a seventh straight Big Ten crown.
The Buckeyes are tied with both Michigan State and Wisconsin. All three teams have a 6-1 mark in the conference. The Spartans go to Penn State and the Badgers host Northwestern.
First back to the Iowa game.
OSU won the contest in spite of itself at times with eight penalties and two turnovers. A Terrelle Pryor interception set up an Iowa score to put the Hawkeyes up 17-10 at the start of the fourth quarter.
But the Buckeyes had Pryor and he engineered 10 fourth-quarter points to salvage the win.
A 12-play, 76-yard mark in 4:18 gave OSU the eventual win. The big plays were a Pryor fourth-and-10 run for a first down and 24-yard pass to wide receiver Dane Sanzenbacher that brought the ball to the Iowa 2.
The drive was reminiscent of one in 2008 in Wisconsin in which Pryor scored the game-winner on an 11-yard scamper with 1:08 remaining.
“This means a lot more because I’m older now,’’ said OSU junior center Mike Brewster, who was a freshman that season. “You just understand things better.’’
The Sanzenbacher grab also drew similarities to the catch Anthony Gonzalez made in 2005 to set up the winning score in the Buckeyes’ 25-21 win over Michigan at Ann Arbor.
But quickly the attention turned to Michigan after Iowa.
The Wolverines are a better team. They’ve gone from three wins in coach Rich Rodriguez’s first year to five last season to seven already this season. They are bowl eligible for the first time in two seasons.
The good news for Michigan is having quarterback Denard Robinson in the backfield. He is one of the most dynamic players in college football this season.
Robinson leads the nation in rushing at 1,538 yards to go with another 2,229 through the air. He has various targets to throw to, led by Roy Roundtree with 58 catches.
Vincent Smith is the top rushing running back at 571 yards.
The bad news for the Wolverines is a defense that is allowing 33.5 points per game (445.2 yards per contest).
Michigan has allowed 34 plus points in seven games. Until the Wolverines get that area shored up consistently, they will be hard-pressed to challenge for the Big Ten crown.
From 1988 through 2000, the Wolverines dominated with a 10-2-1 slate.
But since Jim Tressel took over in 2001, OSU is 8-1 against the Wolverines.
The Buckeyes, who are a big favorite, are shooting not only for the Big Ten title, but another BCS game.
Michigan has definitely improved and will battle, but I look for OSU to win by 14 points.