The Big Ten East Division title may come down to one of the best rivalries in college football.

That rivalry could also drastically alter the playoff picture by making it either much clearer or much more complicated.

In short, Michigan-Ohio State is as big as its been in a decade when the Wolverines and Buckeyes were considered the top two teams in the land. Ohio State won that meeting 42-39. How will this edition of The Game turn out?

Viewing information

Date: Saturday, Nov. 26
Time: 12 p.m. ET
Location: Ohio Stadium -- Columbus, Ohio

Live stream (desktop, mobile): WatchESPN


Michigan: The Big Ten's place in the College Football Playoff could get muddy. Michigan can make it a lot cleaner. It's simple: if the Wolverines win their next two games, they're in. That starts Saturday against the Buckeyes. Here's the thing: Michigan has lost 11 of its last 12 games against the Ohio State. Seven of those losses have been by double digits. Four times, including three straight games from 2013-15, the Wolverines gave up 42 points. To put it lightly: It's been kind of one-sided. Adding anxiousness to the matter is the uncertain availability of quarterback Wilton Speight, who is still "day-to-day" with an injury.

This isn't a playoff-or-bust season for coach Harbaugh, who has already shown he can get his team near the top of the national landscape in two years. But realizing dreams of being a final-four team would ... and beating the Buckeyes would exorcise some demons.

Ohio State: So much for a reloading year, huh? Meyer has this team ready to compete for it all again. But it's not just Michigan that stands in his way. It's Penn State, too. Even if the Buckeyes beat the Wolverines again, it will mean nothing in the East Division so long as Penn State beats Michigan State -- because of the Big Ten's tie-breaker rules. At that point, it will be the waiting game for Ohio State to see if the committee will give the a team that did not even win its division a shot in the playoff.

Perhaps don't be surprised, then, if Ohio State keeps its foot on Michigan's throat if it gets off to a fast start. Style points may be the only friend the Buckeyes have left.

Players to watch

Michigan's offensive line: Since we don't know yet who Michigan's quarterback will be, let's focus instead on the unit that will be protecting whoever's behind center. The Wolverines have averaged 16.5 points in their last two games against Iowa and Indiana, and the offense got pushed around in the loss to the Hawkeyes. That's uncharacteristic of what we've come to expect from this team. The Buckeyes are tops in the Big Ten with Michigan in rushing touchdowns allowed (four) and have a solid defensive line. Winning up front and giving De'Veon Smith some room will be paramount.

Curtis Samuel, HB, Ohio State: Let. Curtis. Samuel. Cook. The halfback is the team's leading receiver and has 1,440 total yards of offense on the year. Most importantly, he's an explosive playmaker, averaging 9.93 yards per touch -- literally almost a first down every time. In the absence of a Michael Thomas-like player on the outside, Curtis Samuel has been the No. 1 skill playmaker outside of running back Mike Weber. The magic number for Samuel has been about 13 touches a game on offense, but with so much on the line, let the man do his thing.

Matchup to watch

Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett vs. Michigan's pass defense: The weakness of Ohio State's offense has been consistency in the passing attack. Again, there hasn't been a true No. 1 option outside of Samuel and the threat of a downfield attack suffered because of it. The worst stretch came in the middle of the season when Barrett passed for just 93 yards against Indiana and 245 yards against Penn State -- but in each game, Barrett averaged under six yards per attempt.

The problem persisted against Michigan State with a season-low 3.9 yards per attempt, though weather factored into those numbers. Either way, Michigan has one of the top pass defenses in the Big Ten and cornerback Jourdan Lewis is a finalist for the Thorpe Award.