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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Buckeyes Will Try To Throw Off Curse

LOS ANGELES -- OK, Michigan, let's check those collars.


After wilting under national-title pressure the last two years, Ohio State happily enters this year's showdown as an underdog.


Will the curse end for the buckling Buckeyes?


This game has been cruel to Ohio State coach John Cooper. He's 50-9-1 the last five years but 1-7-1 against Michigan since arriving in Columbus in 1988.


The last two years, Ohio State was No. 2 and unbeaten before the Michigan game and lost both times.


At his Tuesday news conference this week, a reporter began a question, "You've done everything here except --''


"Beat Michigan,'' Cooper interrupted. "I'm 1-7-1 against Michigan, in case you guys don't know.''


On Saturday, though, Cooper has a chance to do unto others. Saturday, Michigan is No. 1 and playing for the Rose Bowl and the national title.


Cooper's coaching legacy will forever be tied to Michigan. He credits his 1994 victory over the Wolverines for saving his job.


Ohio State is in an enviable position. The Buckeyes are ranked fourth and primed to wreck Michigan's dream season and reap the spoils.


Technically, Michigan could lose to Ohio State and still win the Big Ten tie-breaker if there's a three-way tie for first involving Penn State.


Because of a stipulation in the Rose Bowl contract to protect itself against the bowl alliance, the Buckeyes would go to Pasadena if they finish No. 1 or No. 2 in the national polls, a real possibility should they beat the Wolverines.


Tennessee (8-1) at Kentucky (5-5). Tennessee needs to beat Kentucky this week and Vanderbilt next Saturday to clinch the Southeastern Conference East title and advance to the conference's Dec. 6 title game. Expect 1,000 or so yards of offense. The Volunteers rank fifth nationally in total offense, Kentucky ranks seventh.


West Virginia (7-2) at Notre Dame (5-5). The Irish are back and desperately need a victory over the Mountaineers to stay in bowl contention. OK, it's Independence Bowl contention, but remember how people wrote off the Irish only a month ago.


Florida State (10-0) at Florida (8-2). Last year, the Gators lost to the Seminoles in Tallahassee but avenged the defeat in the Sugar Bowl to win the national title. It won't happen this year, as only Florida State is in title contention.


Florida is relatively mediocre, having scrapped its vaunted passing game for a more conservative approach.