Colin: I’m writing this on my phone at a bar about 2 hours after that crazy Maryland game ended. Before diving into that hot mess, let’s open with a Michigan question.
Say what you want about Urban Meyer, but his record in tight games is pretty amazing. When he loses, it’s usually one sided (Iowa, Clemson, Purdue, Oklahoma). If you let his team hang around all bets are off. Michigan knows this better than anybody. Well, except maybe Penn State. The question is this: If you are a Michigan fan, what kind of score in the 4th quarter of “the game” would make you very nervous?
Baver: I’m not sure people realize how often Urban wins these tight games. At OSU, he is 22-3 in games decided by 7 points or less, and 6-0 in OT games. Unheard of. As for the getting nervous thing, if you are unfortunate enough to be a Michigan fan? Don Brown is undoubtedly one of the best D-coordinators in CFB and a big reason why Michigan is as good as they are this year (#1 nationally in total D). But Brown’s defenses have had some big late game collapses. The last two OSU-UM games come to mind and of course the mother of all collapses against South Carolina in last year’s Outback Bowl. UM also was down only 21-13 at the half against Penn St last year and ended up losing 42-13. It also goes without saying that Harbaugh has fared poorly at UM in high profile games. If I were a Michigan fan, I definitely wouldn’t feel comfortable until the clock hit 0:00 at end of the 4th qtr and showed that UM was ahead.
Colin: Where does that Maryland v OSU game rank on the all-time crazy game rankings?
Baver: Unfortunately, that wasn’t the kind of excitement I was looking for this past Saturday. But, I’d say it’s probably top-five in craziness. Off the top of my head, I’ll throw 4 others in....in no specific order: OSU-Illinois in ‘84 (OSU was down 24-0 & came back to win), OSU-Miami ’02 title gm (most emotional thing I can remember), OSU-Mich ’13 (OSU won 42-41 after stopping UM’s 2-point try to end the gm), and OSU-Mich ’16 (Hooker’s pick-6, JT’s 4th down measurement, Curtis Samuel’s gm winner...it was one for the ages).
Colin: JK Dobbins had a workmanlike game against MD, but at this point in his career is he just a slightly above average Big Ten back?
Baver: There is probably some truth to that, but the kid has picked it up a notch lately. He is elusive and somewhat powerful for his size, but lacks top-end speed. Mike Weber has had the better year of the two I think, although you can’t forget the big plays JK has made as a receiver out of the backfield. If a Penn St fan is reading this, he is cringing right now.
Colin: Back to Urban....so Colin Cowherd says (in the link HERE) that he has two separate sources that are high up the food chain stating Meyer will retire after this season citing health reasons. As of mid-week in the lead up to The Game...what say you?
Baver: I’d now say the chances are better than 50% that Urban does indeed step down after this season. Too much smoke here. Former Sports Illustrated and current Yahoo! Sports columnist Pete Thamel is Urban’s right-hand man in the media. Thamel’s piece Sunday (linked HERE) some think was written per Urban’s request, and it seems to set the stage for Urban retiring. Again, we shall see, but so many signs now point to Urban getting out of the game.
Colin: We can’t stop the run. We can’t stop the pass. How do we stop Michigan?
Baver: It’s going to be tough. Michigan is only 5th in the B10 in total offense, but are 2nd in scoring - they get pts out of their drives. Shea Patterson has made all the difference in the world. I will say again what I have been saying about this OSU D for a while now...the key is their D-line. That’s because the upside is so big if those guys are healthy and motivated. Dre’Mont can change a game or hit the snooze button. Chase Young’s potential is off the charts but he’s been overly quiet for much of the season. These guys have to come up big Saturday in the ‘Shoe to keep Michigan’s offense in check.
Colin: We cannot reliably pick up one yard on the ground and Michigan has the best pass defense in the country. What kind of performance does Haskins need to turn in to keep us in this game?
Baver: The short-yardage problems for the OSU offense against the Terps make the Sparty game look like a mirage. Haskins has to come up big against UM or OSU loses to UM for the first time under Meyer. I tend to think Haskins won’t run nearly as much this week, as the OSU coaches have now made Michigan and Don Brown spend more time preparing for the QB run. OSU should have more success attacking Michigan through the air than they will on the ground, despite UM’s elite pass D numbers. But OSU doesn’t win this game if Dwayne has to chuck it 60+ times.
Part 2 of 2 coming Friday morning.