B1G Ten Week 9 Players of the Week

Following Big Ten football games on Oct. 26, the offensive, defensive and special teams players of the week and freshman of the week in the Big Ten were announced this morning. Below are this week’s honorees:

Offensive Player of the Week

Braxton Miller, Ohio State

Jr., QB, Huber Heights, Ohio/Wayne

•           Had a hand in five Ohio State touchdowns, including three passing and two rushing, in the Buckeyes’ victory over Penn State

•           Finished with 320 yards of total offense, completing 18 of 24 passes for a career-high 252 yards, and rushing for 68 yards on 11 carries in less than three quarters

•           Has been a part of 61 Ohio State touchdowns in his career, tied for third in program history

•           Records his third career weekly honor and second this season

•           Last Ohio State Offensive Player of the Week: Carlos Hyde (Oct. 7, 2013)

Defensive Player of the Week

James Morris, Iowa

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The Game Prediction

THE game. The greatest rivalry in all of sport. Whether 0-11 or 11-0, this game is one where you can throw the records out.

Looking at the trends, both teams are trending up. Michigan is on a 3 game winning streak, and frankly, their offense has taken enormous strides during those 3 weeks. Granted one can look at the opponents and make an argument that part of their success can be attributed to that. But last week showed what could truly be a special performance in the Snakepit Saturday, with Denard playing all over the field, and Devin Gardner being as special through the air as Denard can be on the ground.

If there is one thing to look for, its how Michigan chooses to attack a Buckeye defense which has been suspect much of the year. Do they try to run to set up play action and other passes, or pass to pull the safeties back and give Denard, Thomas Rawls and others more running room? My guess is you’ll see a more wide open look similar to what you saw in the ND game at the start. Like ND, Ohio’s secondary is suspect, and ranks 11th in the B1G in passing yards allowed.

Braxton Miller poses quite the threat to a Michigan defense which has been stout for the majority of the season. The 3 games that Michigan struggled the most defensively were Alabama (with an O-line like I’ve not seen since the 2000 UM line), and Air Force/Northwestern, which attacked the edges with the option, and had the speed to make that difficult. Ohio, while it has the speed in Miller, doesn’t really have a back fast enough to really attack the edges with the option on a consistent basis.

The Snakepit is by far the most difficult venue in the B1G to play in. Its fans have no issue showing their class (or lack thereof). That said, I think Michigan will be able to move the ball as much as they need to, and will be able to get enough stops to pull the game out.

Michigan 42, OSU 34.

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Grading The Performance: Ohio

Quarterback

Players at Michigan are ultimately judged by how they perform against Ohio. While all position groups have to deal with an added level of expectation against the Buckeyes, no position group endures more pressure than the QBs. QBs are judged above all else by their record and performance against Ohio. For much of the last decade Michigan fans have seen their QB’s outperformed by their Buckeye counterparts. Names like Krenzel, Smith, and Pryor have made more plays in the clutch and fewer critical mistakes than Wolverine QBs. Over the last decade Ohio QBs have outperformed Michigan’s QBs, until Saturday.

Denard Robinson rose to the occasion on Saturday and simply willed the Wolverines to victory. Every time the Buckeyes made a play to take the lead or tie the game, Denard came right back to make a play of his own. Denard performed at the highest of levels on the biggest of stages; became a legend in the process. During one stretch of the game, Robinson completed 11 straight passes and was the most accurate that he’s been this season. The most impressive part of Robinson’s performance, from a passing standpoint, was that he was the most accurate while making the most difficult throws. Denard threw a perfect 15 yd corner route to Drew Dileo that would have gone for a TD had Dileo stayed on his feet. Denard also hit Junior Hemingway on a perfect strike between a safety and a corner. Denard made the difficult throws look easy, something that seems truly amazing when you think back of the season. In addition, Denard showed a tremendous amount of patience before hitting Odoms for a TD. There were no back foot, chuck the ball up for grabs plays, the kind that have gotten Denard into trouble all season. Denard was dialed in from the first snap and amazing enough continued to elevate his level of play throughout the game.

On the ground, Denard ran harder and with more decisiveness than he has since arriving at Michigan. There was only one play where Denard hesitated instead of making up his mind and taking off. Denard burned Nebraska last week with his scrambling ability and he did the same to the Buckeyes this week. Anytime Ohio vacated its LBs from the middle of the field, Denard took off which was great to see. Denard also did a great job on the zone read, an area that he has struggled with his whole career. Denard was determined not to let Michigan lose and he ran like it.

The only imperfections on the day for Denard Robinson were the two balls he put on the ground. On the first play Robinson was ruled down. On the second, Ohio got the ball in Michigan territory and scored a few plays later.

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Ohio Game Prediction

For years, I’ve struggled to sleep the night before "The Game". As far back as I can remember, I look forward to this day as much as a 6 year old runs down the stairs on Christmas morning with unparalleled anticipation. The century plus long tradition of these two football programs is legendary. It epitomizes what college football is all about, and while some of the luster has worn off since 2006, it’s still just about as special as it gets in all of sports.

For the first time in nearly a decade, Michigan is favored in the matchup, and is on quite a roll the past 2 weeks, with double digit wins on the road in Champaign, and a surprising blowout 28 point win against Nebraska in the Big House. The Buckeyes come in losers of two tight games in a row, an overtime loss at Purdue, and a 20-14 loss against Penn State in Columbus last week, and a 6-5 overall record. But nobody in Ann Arbor or Columbus needs a reminder how the last 7 matchups have gone. If there’s one thing that is certain in this rivalry, like most, records mean next to nothing. In fact, more times than not, I’ve seen the underdog prevail (see: John Cooper).

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