Michigan opens as favorite for first time in ‘The Game’ in 5 years

Michigan ended its losing streak to Ohio State two years ago, but it still hasn’t been viewed as the team with the upper hand in the rivalry game over the last few years — until this upcoming Saturday.

The Wolverines opened as a 5-point favorite for Saturday’s rivalry tilt against the Buckeyes in Ann Arbor at Circa Sportsbook. It marks the first time in five years that Michigan is favored to win “The Game.” 

The last time was when one-loss Michigan faced fellow one-loss Ohio State in Columbus in 2018. 

Michigan is certainly hoping for a better result this time around than the last time it was favored to beat Ohio State. It lost 62-39 in that matchup, which marked the seventh-straight win for Ohio State in the rivalry. 

Ohio State continued its dominance over Michigan in 2019, winning that year 56-27 in Ann Arbor. After the 2020 matchup was canceled due to a COVID outbreak within Michigan’s program, the Wolverines have won the last two matchups. 

They won 42-27 at home in 2021 and got a road upset in 2022, winning 45-23.

As many expected throughout the season, the ancient rivals will enter Saturday’s game undefeated, marking the second straight season that’s been the case and the third year that the Big Ten East is on the line when the two face off.

Michigan will be without coach Jim Harbaugh for the third straight game. Harbaugh is serving the final game of his three-game suspension handed to him from the Big Ten due to allegations of illegal sign stealing. The Wolverines have won their last two games without their head coach — they were favored to win both games — surviving a road battle against Maryland this past weekend.

Michigan has won in closer battles over the last two weeks, while Ohio State has been dominant over the last two games. The Buckeyes have won their last two by a combined score of 75-6 and haven’t allowed a touchdown. 

Is Ohio State at its strongest before its trip to Ann Arbor?

Even though Michigan is favored to win “The Game,” FOX Sports lead college football analyst Joel Klatt senses Ohio State has the momentum. He outlined as much on “The Joel Klatt Show” this week.

“These two teams, two programs and two fanbases, over the last three, four weeks, [the confidence] flipped. All of the confidence was on the Michigan side. They were just rolling through the season. They were the boa constrictor and, ‘Who has it better than us?’ They were rolling. Their quarterback was going. Their run game was going. Their defense was going. Over the last [three weeks], with the scandal and the saga and the last seven days on the field, the confidence has suddenly flipped. Now, all of a sudden, it’s the Ohio State fans that are confident. 

“I can feel it. I can see it. I see it online. I see it out there. The confidence from Ohio State fans is palpable because their defense is for real.”

Follow along with FOX Sports for the latest news on the college football and other sports.

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