College football: Ohio State and Michigan prepare for battle in "The Game"
Columbus, Ohio - The game of the century has finally arrived, and this year it will come with a berth to the Big Ten Championship and a solidified spot in the college football playoffs for either Ohio State or Michigan.
The most-heated rivalry and arguably the biggest matchup in college football this season, dubbed The Game, is finally here.
No. 2 Ohio State will face off against No. 3 Michigan in potentially one of the most pivotal games in the rivalry's history. This year, the battle between the two unbeaten Big Ten teams will take place at the historic Ohio Stadium AKA "the Horseshoe" under high stakes The Game has only seen once before.
In 2006, then-No. 1 Ohio State defeated unbeaten Michigan in a huge top-two battle that sealed the Heisman Trophy campaign for Buckeye Hall of Famer Troy Smith. Going into the game, both teams were 11-0 in the season.
This year, the Wolverines will travel to Columbus as the reigning rivalry champions that ended an eight-year losing streak to the Buckeyes last year.
Adding insult to Ohio State's (losing) injury, Michigan used the victory to earn its first-ever College Football Playoff appearance in the modern era.
Now, the Buckeyes are bloodthirsty for revenge at home, and both teams are right where they want each other: undefeated and as one of the nation's best to set up what could be a sweet victory dessert for the Thanksgiving weekend.
Injuries will play a key role in losing "The Game"
While the Wolverines hold a 59-52-6 edge in the rivalry series, Michigan has lost 15 of the last 17 games to Ohio State.
In other words, Michigan's dominance on the gridiron hasn't always been a force to be reckoned with in recent years for the Buckeyes.
With top running back Blake Corum injured during last weekend's nail-biting win over Illinois, the Wolverines' dominance will be in trouble if Corum doesn't return to the field on Saturday.
Without the Heisman candidate, Michigan will not be able to rely much on their running game – the main offensive scheme that earned the Wolverines the most scores this season.
In a similar situation, Michigan won't be the only offense with a slew of injuries as the Buckeyes may have several players sidelined.
Top rushers TreVeyon Henderson and Miyan Williams both missed action last weekend against Maryland, as did receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba. Head coach Ryan Day has yet to release any updates on the leading Buckeyes and whether the trio will play on Saturday.
Luckily, the Buckeyes' offense has a stellar passing game led by Heisman quarterback CJ Stroud along with top receivers Marvin Harrison Jr. and Emeka Egbuka. Better yet, Ohio State can still rush plays with freshman standout running back Dallan Hayden.
The highly anticipated rivalry battle will kick off on Saturday at noon EST on Fox.
Cover photo: Mike Mulholland / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP