You are viewing this article in the archives. For the latest breaking news and updates in Ann Arbor and the surrounding area, see
Posted on Fri, Nov 25, 2011 : 12:20 p.m.

Ohio State feeling 'drained' heading into Michigan game, Buckeyes reporter says

By Kyle Meinke


Ohio State football coach Luke Fickell has dealt with off-field distractions since he took over the team.

Associated Press

How is Ohio State feeling heading into this weekend's game against the Michigan football team?

"Drained," says beat writer Doug Lesmerises of The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer.

The reports of Urban Meyer becoming the Buckeyes' next head coach adds to the year-long drama for the school, which first came under fire last December for a memorabilia-for-gifts scandal that enveloped coach Jim Tressel and quarterback Terrell Pryor, among others.

It has led to waves of suspensions — top receiver DeVier Posey will be playing in his second game of the year against the Wolverines, and Dan Herron his sixth — and the rise of assistant Luke Fickell to coach.

It's been anything but a smooth ride for Fickell, whose team is 6-5 and riding a two-game losing streak into its biggest game of the year — and now may lose his job before his first (only?) season as head coach is over.

Lesmerises still gives the Buckeyes a chance because of the Wolverines' inexperience at being the favorite in this game (hasn't happened since 2004), but he ultimately thinks Michigan will prevail.

He explains why in this week's beat writer breakdown:

Michigan has a chance to have two rushers eclipse the 1,000-yard mark against OSU in QB Denard Robinson and RB Fitz Toussaint. How will Ohio State try to keep in check the Wolverines' two-headed rushing attack?

Doug Lesmerises: The Buckeyes' defense hasn't been consistent this season, but the Buckeyes are still generally pretty good against the run. They handled Wisconsin's run game for most of that win, for example. Last week, the greatest problems against Penn State came when the Nittany Lions ran from the Wildcat and caught Ohio State out of position. Defensive linemen John Simon and Johnathan Hankins have had good years, but the line as a whole has been vulnerable at times. The linebackers have been the biggest problems, but if senior Andrew Sweat is OK to play after sitting out last week with a concussion, the Buckeyes may pair him with true freshman linebacker Ryan Shazier, who made his first start in place of Sweat last week. Shazier has the speed and instincts to track down ballcarriers, while Sweat can help set the defense, so that combo may have the Buckeyes more ready against the run than in any other game this year.


Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller has rushed for 595 yards and passed for 762.

AP Photo

Braxton Miller will be the third consecutive running quarterback Michigan has faced, after U-M posted two of its best defensive performances against the previous two. How does Miller compare to Nathan Scheelhaase and Taylor Martinez, and what has made him effective this year?

DL: Miller is more like Scheelhaase than Martinez. Miller isn't as incredibly explosive as Martinez in running the option game, but he's also a more natural thrower. He's had trouble completing passes this season in part because of the playcalling, in part because of his young receivers and in part because he is reluctant to let the ball go in any tight spaces while trying to avoid turnovers. The way he has been hurting defenses is with quarterback draws and with scrambles on broken pass plays. He has good moves in the open field and the ability to make defenders miss, but he hasn't done much damage in the passing game so far.

It's Luke Fickell's first Michigan game as head coach, and now there is the distraction of Urban Meyer-to-Ohio State reports. How has he handled the pressure, and do you think the Meyer situation will affect the Buckeyes on Saturday? DL: I think this team has been a bit drained by the accumulation of off-season news this year, dating to the tattoo scandal of last December. No player on this team has done anything but win Big Ten titles on the field, so they're having some trouble staying motivated with that out of reach. They've had flat starts for three straight weeks. Fickell himself bristled this week a bit when asked about the coaching situation, saying there's a game at noon Saturday and his "(butt) will be there." I think that was a good sign. Overall, I think the Meyer situation will have some effect on Ohio State, but this could be Fickell's moment to draw one last effort out of a team that has gone through a lot.

Ohio State is 84th in the country in scoring. Michigan is sixth in scoring defense. How do you think the Buckeyes will attack the Wolverines' defense, and do you think they'll be successful?

DL: I think Ohio State will continue to try to run, with senior running back Dan Herron and with Miller. I'm done predicting a change of philosophy that yields some new version of the passing game. Senior receiver DeVier Posey will play his second game after missing the first 10 because of suspension, and he is clearly the best OSU receiver, by a mile. But he still had four catches last week, not 10. The offensive line features three seniors, and I think the Buckeyes will continue to try to pound the ball.

Where on the field will be Michigan's biggest matchup disadvantage?

DL: It's probably mental. On the field, the Buckeyes don't do anything the Wolverines don't have a chance to counter. But underdogs have fared pretty well in this series, and Michigan, with a potential BCS bid on the line, has to be ready to handle the opposite role in the rivalry, having not been favored in this game since 2004. Michigan's on-field edge isn't huge, and the Buckeyes playing at their best certainly have a chance. But the biggest Michigan disadvantage would be if the Wolverines are so excited to snap their seven-game losing streak to Ohio State, that they try too hard.

Doug Lesmerises' prediction: I expect Ohio State to allow Michigan to jump to the lead, after falling behind 10-0 in each of the last three weeks, and then both Denard Robinson and Braxton Miller will make a few big plays as neither offense is able to move the ball on a consistent basis. Robinson makes maybe one extra play, and Michigan holds on in a game that remains tight through the fourth quarter. Michigan 23, Ohio State 17

Doug Lesmerises covers Ohio State for The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer. Follow him on Twitter @PDBuckeyes.

Kyle Meinke covers Michigan football for He can be reached at 734-623-2588, by email at and followed on Twitter @kmeinke.



Sat, Nov 26, 2011 : 8:49 p.m.

3:35 PM: For the sixth time this season, the Buckeyes have lost by 6 points or less. Hats of to Ohio, they managed to stay in the game almost to the end. Bigger hats off to Michigan's Defense: you shut 'em down when it counted most. Brady Hoke has beat Ohio on his first try and now has secured a 10-2 season, very impressive! Go Blue!


Sat, Nov 26, 2011 : 4:14 p.m.

Ohio's chances of winning this one are slim to none. They've lost by small margins each time, means their defense is certainly capable but...? Is Ohio's defense ready to face the first Hoke / Borges offense they've seen up to now? Comments to the effect that TSi0's defense "knows" Michigan's offense are a bit off the mark. Also, the entire TSiO squad has enjoyed three years of low support from the Big House Crowd. This year: the crowd will be loud and coordinated. Ohio faces a new Michigan squad in Team 132 and the environment will be totally against them. The Twelfth Man for Michigan may turn out to be: greater maturity. These are now mostly juniors with a few outstanding seniors leading the way. For Ohio, it's key players who are still young and have yet to see what it's like to face a clearly dominant Michigan team. This game is going to be verrrry different and not at all favorable to TSiO. Lesmerises says the Wolverines may try to hard and stumble. That could happen - for maybe one quarter of play. I'm betting (unflappable) Brady Hoke has his team in hand and will keep them calm or calm them down quickly. We've seen this from our side: a desperately outmatched team will put up a few great plays - because they're desperate. But Ohio's desperation in the Big House today will not be enough to save them from the biggest points deficit of any game they've played this year. Go Blue!

Chris Lane

Sat, Nov 26, 2011 : 3:44 p.m.

Come on...48-10, Michigan beats Ohio state? Ohio State's defense has given up 40+ points 0 times in FOREVER! If you really think that the score will be 48-10 then you think that Michigan will play their best game of the year and the Bucks will play their worst game of the year. Ohio State knows how to stop Michigan's is the same as last year. You have got to be kidding. I would be surprised in Michigan scores more than 20 and Michigan's defense is not good enough to hold Ohio State to less than 20 no matter how inept the Buck's D plays. It is The Game so you can throw out what Las Vegas thinks...and i, myself being a Bucks' fan, can only see the Bucks losing by 7 or less at the worst. Do you not remember that the score was 37-7 against OSU last season? The defense is still one of the best. UM can't score 48 points against Ohio State. No team has scored more than 34 against the Buckeyes all season. Michigan is a favorite because of being at home, but realistically, you Michigan fans have to know that you are underdogs and will probably lose. You UM fans used to be smart. That Ohio coach of yours is mediocre at best, and this is the best season you will have while Dayton, Ohio's Hoke is coach is Ann Arbor. You all need to get real. You lost by 30 last season and you think you will win by 38 this year? Get real!


Sat, Nov 26, 2011 : 4:51 p.m.

Picking on the extreme is just setting up a paper tiger. There are fans on both sides who will always make overblown claims. Michigan fans, for the most part, are smart. We have about the same ratio of extremist fans as you do. We don't take them seriously, so don't claim that we do. As for points spread: My post says it all: whatever you look at in these two 2011 teams, Michigan either has the advantage or it's within reach. Last year's Buckeyes were totally different on the 'upside' while last year's Wolverines were totally different on the 'downside.' It's not boasting but only logical to conclude that Michigan will win by substantially more than 6 points (which is about the average loss margin for the Buckeyes this season). A reversal: 37-7 for Michigan is not out of the question, but no one who's serious is counting on that.


Sat, Nov 26, 2011 : 2:14 p.m.

Go Blue & Go Red ollege football with intense rivelery. Anything can happen.


Sat, Nov 26, 2011 : 12:49 a.m.

I'm predicting a score similar to Nebraska vs U of M. Our boys in blue are playing as a team. They have confidence and momentum. 45-17----- part two! Go Blue!

Terry Star21

Sat, Nov 26, 2011 : 2:06 a.m.

Steve, I never predict scores - but I like your idea, everything is falling into place for this team and I believe they could score many points.

Larry Weisenthal

Sat, Nov 26, 2011 : 12:28 a.m.

I think it will be the lowest scoring game of the year. Michigan 13 Ohio 3


Sat, Nov 26, 2011 : 3:39 p.m.

Ohio prefers the word "the" in front of the name of their school. As a gesture of respect, I call them tohio. Michigan 24 tohio 9

Terry Star21

Sat, Nov 26, 2011 : 2:11 a.m.

Larry, I have seen ohio's defense and unless Vince Lombardi was working with them last week we score many points. Otherwise, if we get sloppy - 2-4 turnovers, I'm with you, or ohio scores more. Damian, This is Michigan - if our coach says 'ohio', then ohio it is !

Damian Daugherty

Sat, Nov 26, 2011 : 12:50 a.m.

again - they are playing ohio STATE, no ohio, if u wanna play against the entire state of ohio, or ohio u, then have fun.

Terry Star21

Fri, Nov 25, 2011 : 11:55 p.m.

This ohio team has nothing to lose - and to me that is very scary ! MgoBlueForTiM...........10 and 2 sounds pretty good for maize and blue.

Macabre Sunset

Fri, Nov 25, 2011 : 10:46 p.m.

This will be a field-position game. To win, Denard has to avoid turnovers. If he does, I see the streak broken.

David Briegel

Fri, Nov 25, 2011 : 9:04 p.m.

Drained? And down the drain they will be flushed! Where they belong! Go Blue!!


Fri, Nov 25, 2011 : 8:42 p.m.

48-10. Hoke doesn't normally run up the score, but this game needs an exclamation point. Michigan's guys have been waiting for this game all season. GO BLUE!


Fri, Nov 25, 2011 : 7:47 p.m.

"underdogs have fared pretty well in this series" --- not since 2004!

Peter Jameson

Fri, Nov 25, 2011 : 7:15 p.m.

its a trick!


Fri, Nov 25, 2011 : 5:54 p.m.

I hope nobody falls for that junk. They will be ready to play, just because it is Michigan. I hope Michigan plays even better than against Nebraska. The players need to get into the mindset of putting teams away. Passez au Bleu.