When: Saturday, noon ET (ABC)
Spread: Ohio State by 3.5
Watchability: The Buckeyes' undefeated season comes down to its final game of the year against its most bitter rival, Michigan. The fact that the Wolverines are still in the hunt for their preseason goal of reaching the Big Ten title game is an interesting albeit unlikely sidebar. Nothing beats the narrative of one of the best rivalries in sports.
Shining stars: Michigan -- While not as dynamic as Denard Robinson, Devin Gardner, the Wolverines' starting quarterback for the past three games, is a more accurate passer, better decision-maker, and still maintains the ability to improvise in the pocket when a play breaks down -- like Robinson. In the past three games, he's thrown for seven touchdowns compared to Robinson, who managed just nine passing touchdowns in eight games. Couple that with the fact that Gardner makes receivers Jeremy Gallon, Roy Roundtree and Drew Dileo exponentially more dangerous, and there's no question who the better quarterback option is. With Robinson in a hybrid role, coach Brady Hoke can capitalize on his speed while minimizing the risk of a turnover. Ohio State's defense will be forced to overload the box on defense, thus opening up the passing game. Ohio State -- The Buckeyes' defensive line is vital to their hopes of slowing down Michigan's offense. Defensive end John Simon tied a program-record with four sacks last weekend against Wisconsin's vaunted offensive line and now has a conference-leading nine sacks. It won't be easy to get pressure as Michigan's OL has yielded just 11 sacks all year. Simon and T Johnathan Hankins will need to get a consistent surge up front to collapse the pocket and force Gardner into hurried throws. Last weekend, the Hawkeyes couldn't get any pressure and let Gardner pick apart their secondary. Linebacker Ryan Shazier -- who is tied with Simon for a team-high 14.5 tackles for loss -- will play a huge role in neutralizing Robinson out of the backfield.
Who could steal the show: Michigan -- Linebacker Jake Ryan (75 tackles on year) and S Jordan Kovacs (60 tackles) each had big games against the Hawkeyes and both will be tasked with keeping Braxton Miller from breaking one of his signature runs. Last weekend the Badgers crafted their defensive game plans around Miller and he finished with season-lows of 97 passing yards and just 48 rushing yards. With Miller accounted for, RB Carlos Hyde averaged 5.8 ypc on 87 yards and two touchdowns and largely dictated the pace of Ohio State's offense. Hoke may want to blitz Kovacs and Ryan, putting trust in Michigan's secondary, statistically, the best in the country. Ohio State -- Miller and Hyde are the two pillars of a Buckeyes rushing attack ranked ninth in the country (245.5 ypg). With Miller held in check last weekend, Hyde took control. Even though he's had significantly fewer rushing attempts than the other top backs in the Big Ten, Hyde is second in the conference with 16 touchdowns, including 14 in the past six games. Michigan has comparable linebackers to Wisconsin, so expect a similar game plan predicated around stopping Miller. The Buckeyes may feed Hyde -- a between-the-tackles tailback -- to keep the clock running and Michigan's offense off the field.
You going? Ranking the road trip: Aside from the obvious allure of The Game, the 2002 Ohio State national championship team will be honored between the first and second quarters of Saturday's game. This year's Buckeyes are trying to become the first team since the 2002 squad to go undefeated.
Magic number for Michigan: 1983. Last week Gardner became the first Michigan player to account for six touchdowns (three rushing, three passing) since Steve Smith accomplished the feat in 1983. Gardner has accounted for at least three touchdowns in all three games he's started and Michigan has scored 16 offensive touchdowns in those three games -- all wins. Also, Michigan has ruined an Ohio State perfect season five times in the 108-year history of the rivalry.
Magic number for Ohio State: 1. A win on Saturday would give Urban Meyer a 12-0 record, tying him for the best start of any Ohio State coach in the program's history. Carroll Widdoes won his first 12 games in 1944-45.
The game comes down to: Ohio State's ability to get to Gardner. The Buckeyes can derail Michigan's offense and force Gardner, who has only started three games, into dangerous throws.
Prediction: Ohio State 28, Michigan 24
For more Big Ten coverage, follow Mike Singer and Dave Carey @CBSSportsBigTen.