The Game is a really big game this year, as No. 2 Ohio State and No. 3 Michigan face off with a lot on the line.

The winner advances to the Big Ten championship game and is a win away from a College Football Playoff bid. The loser will need help to get into the playoff.

Ohio State Buckeyes quarterback C.J. Stroud (7) throws the ball against Michigan Wolverines defense during the first quarter of their NCAA College football at Michigan Stadium at Ann Arbor, Mi on November  27, 2021.

Ohio State Buckeyes quarterback C.J. Stroud (7) throws the ball against Michigan Wolverines defense during the first quarter of their NCAA College football at Michigan Stadium at Ann Arbor, Mi on November 27, 2021.

Ohio State is a 7½-point favorite.

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So the smart people in Vegas have their picks, but what about the experts at The Columbus Dispatch and Detroit News? Here’s how they see the game:

Bill Rabinowitz

Columbus Dispatch Ohio State football beat reporter Bill Rabinowitz photographed April 29, 2021 in the Columbus Dispatch newsroom.

Columbus Dispatch Ohio State football beat reporter Bill Rabinowitz photographed April 29, 2021 in the Columbus Dispatch newsroom.

Ohio State beat writer

The Columbus Dispatch

Wouldn’t this score be funny? So much depends on whether running back Blake Corum (and Donovan Edwards) are healthy. If so, this is closer to a 50-50 game. But I suspect that Corum won’t be at full strength if he does play, and quarterback J.J. McCarthy hasn’t been consistent enough as a passer. C.J. Stroud should be able to exploit Michigan’s secondary as long as his protection holds up. The Buckeyes are at home, highly motivated and more talented across the board. This is no sure thing, but I suspect OSU will rise to the moment.

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Joey Kaufman

Columbus Dispatch Ohio State football beat reporter Joey Kaufman photographed April 29, 2021 in the Columbus Dispatch newsroom.

Columbus Dispatch Ohio State football beat reporter Joey Kaufman photographed April 29, 2021 in the Columbus Dispatch newsroom.

Ohio State beat writer

The Columbus Dispatch

There is no shortage of motivation for the Buckeyes as they look to avenge a particularly crushing loss in the rivalry from last season, a stinging defeat that kept them from reaching the College Football Playoff for the first time in Ryan Day’s tenure. Look for them to come out laser-focused on Saturday as a result. But emotion figures to be only one reason that Ohio State bounces back this November. Its run defense, porous in the previous matchup with Michigan, is much improved under Jim Knowles and bottles up the backs enough to make the Wolverines go to the air too much for their liking.

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Rob Oller

Columbus Dispatch sports columnist Rob Oller photographed Thursday, Feb. 11, 2021.

Columbus Dispatch sports columnist Rob Oller photographed Thursday, Feb. 11, 2021.

Sports columnist

The Columbus Dispatch

If the Shoe fits … . Ohio State has not lost to Michigan at home since 2000, which is why I give the Buckeyes the edge in a showdown that will come down to the closing minutes of the fourth quarter; unless Michigan tailback Blake Corum is less than 95% healthy, in which case OSU will win by at least two touchdowns. A lot is riding on the outcome: C.J. Stroud’s Heisman Trophy hopes, Ryan Day’s reputation in big games and a trip to the Big Ten championship game. Buckle the chin strap. The Game just might be a game for the ages.

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Real-time reporter

The Columbus Dispatch

This matchup against undefeated rivals will live up to its billing. While Michigan brings in one of the top running games in the country, Ohio State has a track record of stopping the run when it counts, allowing seven rushing touchdowns all season with opponents averaging 3.1 yards per carry. And while Michigan has one of the top defenses in the country, it has not seen an offense like Ohio State’s yet this year. Expect the latest edition of “The Game” to feel close throughout, but ending with the Buckeyes returning to the win column and heading to the Big Ten championship game.

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Angelique S. Chengelis

Angelique S. Chengelis

Angelique S. Chengelis

Michigan beat writer

Detroit News

Ohio State 31, Michigan 20

The first of many storylines is the status of Blake Corum, who has carried the Michigan offense this season. QB J.J. McCarthy is unflappable, but he and his receivers need to have a big game against an Ohio State defense determined to stop Michigan’s run game. Both UM’s offensive line and OSU’s defense under Jim Knowles are better than they were last year. Michigan must be able to pressure C.J. Stroud. UM’s secondary has given up big plays, but its defense has usually been able to stop opponents when it matters, particularly on fourth down.

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This article originally appeared on The Columbus Dispatch: Ohio State vs Michigan prediction in Big Ten football action

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