We’ve been saying it all year. Ohio State must establish the run game if it wants to win in November and beyond. With weather conditions not looking favorable, it will be even more important that the running game is on point.
The running back room has been hurting all season. It seems as if each week, either Miyan Williams or TreVeyon Henderson has been nursing some kind of injury. Enter true freshman Dallan Hayden. Henderson came up a little gimpy after his 30-yard touchdown reception and was not able to run effectively the rest of the game.
However, Ryan Day kept going with his RB1 despite not gaining much traction. Until the second half when Hayden came into the game and ran wild. It remains to be seen if either Williams or Henderson will be 100 percent or if they will even suit up. If not, Hayden has more than earned the opportunity to be the bell cow for the Buckeyes. That’s not to take anything away from Ohio State’s star running backs, but a healthy Hayden is going to provide more upside than backs that are ailing.
Defensively, it’s no secret Ohio State must be able to stop the run. Michigan has been one of the most effective teams in the nation at moving the ball on the ground. Most of that comes courtesy of Heisman contender Blake Corum. However, Corum left the game last week with an apparent knee injury. Corum claims he’ll be ready to go, but knees are tricky, and we will not know until closer to game time.
Donovan Edwards is a back OSU will have to contain, if he is healthy. Edwards sat last week’s game, and it remains to be seen if he’ll play this week. Without either of their most talented backs, the Wolverines struggled to get that ground game moving, putting the ball in the hands of quarterback J.J. McCarthy.
McCarthy has proven he can move the ball with his legs when needed. However, it seems he tries to do too much at times and forces some plays. Ohio State must focus on stopping the run and put Michigan in obvious passing situations. McCarthy has not shown he can be consistent in moving the chains if forced to throw. The Bucks will need to keep a spy on the speedy UM quarterback as he is more than capable of scrambling for big gains.
It really comes down to good old-fashioned Big Ten football and who can control the line of scrimmage and run the ball better.