Despite struggling offensively, Ohio State has the chance to win a share of a fourth consecutive Big Ten title and earn an automatic BCS berth.
The Buckeyes also have a strong shot at winning five in a row over rival Michigan for the first time in school history.
Sitting in a three-way tie for first place in the conference, No. 10 Ohio State needs a victory over the struggling Wolverines and a Michigan State upset of Penn State on Saturday to reach its fifth BCS game in the last six years -- with the Rose Bowl the likely destination.
Ohio State (9-2, 6-1) ranks 84th nationally in total offense (332.7 yards per game), and the Buckeyes are 107th out of 119 Football Bowl Subdivision teams in passing (144.8). Facing Michigan (3-8, 2-5) could help Ohio State solve those problems.
The Wolverines have the eighth-ranked defense in the Big Ten (362.5) and are giving up nearly 28 points per game.
Ohio State also comes into this game after consecutive strong offensive showings. The Buckeyes had 441 yards in a 45-10 win at Northwestern on Nov. 8 and finished with 354 -- including a season-high 305 rushing -- in last week's 30-20 victory against Illinois.
Freshman quarterback Terrelle Pryor threw for just 49 yards -- his fewest since taking over as the starter in late September -- but ran for a career-high 110 yards on 13 carries in last week's cold and windy game.
Chris "Beanie" Wells also had his third 100-yard performance in the past four games with 143 yards on 24 attempts. Last season, the Wolverines held the Buckeyes to 50 yards through the air, but Wells rushed for 222 yards and two touchdowns in a 14-3 victory.
In Ohio State's previous home meeting with Michigan in 2006, the then freshman had a 52-yard touchdown run to help the top-ranked Buckeyes hold off the No. 2 Wolverines 42-39. Wells needs 43 yards for a second straight 1,000-yard season.
"I think Beanie brings energy to our offense," said Ohio State coach Jim Tressel, who is 6-1 against Michigan.
The Wolverines enter Saturday's game with six losses in their last seven contests, including a 21-14 defeat at home last week to Northwestern that clinched the first eight-loss season in school history.
To make matters worse, Michigan may not have starting quarterback Steven Threet available Saturday. Wolverines coach Rich Rodriguez said Threet, who has a shoulder injury, could possibly serve as Nick Sheridan's backup.
Sheridan has appeared in seven games, including last week's loss when he went 8-for-29 for 61 yards as Michigan finished with a season-low 83 passing yards.
Rodriguez also said leading rusher Sam McGuffie is expected to play after attending a funeral. McGuffie has run for 486 yards and three TDs this season.
Heading into the final game of Rodriguez's first year, the Wolverines are 105th nationally in total offense and last in the Big Ten with less than 300 yards per game. Last season, Michigan finished 10th in the conference with 385.1 yards a contest.
Now, the Wolverines will face the nation's 13th-ranked defense in the Buckeyes, who have given up 286.6 yards per game.
"They're a very talented team. You don't see them out of place. They play hard," Rodriguez said. "We're going to have to really execute."
Despite four straight losses, Michigan still leads the series 57-41-6.
Top 25 Overview
Michigan-Ohio State doesn't quite have the luster of past seasons, but that doesn't mean there's nothing on the line. The Buckeyes are trying to win five straight over the Wolverines for the first time in school history, and in doing so, clinch a share of the Big Ten. Only one other Michigan coach (Harry Kipke) has ever lost his first game against Ohio State.