Does Michigan finally have a realistic shot at beating Ohio State this Saturday?

Evidently Las Vegas oddsmakers think so, as the opening line had the mighty Buckeyes favored by only 8 1/2. I thought it would be in the 10 to 13 range.

Throughout the season Ohio State has been favored by astronomical amounts in most of its games, and has covered those large spreads most of the time.

The Buckeyes didn't last week in their 28-17 victory over Penn State. They would have if not for two costly fumbles, one that negated a sure Ohio State touchdown, and the other that set up an easy score for the Nittany Lions. Without those two miscues, Ohio State probably wins 35-10.

If U-M coach Jim Harbaugh is finally going to upset Ohio State, three things must happen.

First, the Wolverines must win the turnover battle. Always a key factor in big rivalry games.

Secondly, their offensive line must provide great protection for quarterback Shea Patterson against the Buckeyes tremendous pass rush. Patterson is going to need another great day through the air, like he has had the last four games, in which Michigan has averaged 41.5 points in wins over Notre Dame, Maryland, Michigan State and Indiana. No one runs the ball consistently on the Buckeyes.

And Michigan's defense, under overhyped defensive coordinator Don Brown, must at least slow down the Buckeyes' prolific offense. His defense hasn't come close to doing so under his tenure.

The forecast for Ann Arbor on Saturday includes a chance of rain and snow. Weather could be an equalizer for the Wolverines, who played well in the rain against Notre Dame.

The only thing on the line for Michigan is pride. For Ohio State, which has already won the Big Ten EAST, an undefeated season and national title aspirations are still in the works.

Make it:

Ohio State 34, Michigan 24

The Buckeyes win their eighth straight over the Wolverines and 15th of the last 16.

High school championships

The Michigan High School Athletic Association's 11-player state championships are Friday and Saturday at Ford Field in Detroit.

The Division 2, 4, 6, and 8 games are Friday, with the Division 1, 3, 5 and 7 games on Saturday.

Game times both days are 10 a.m. (Divisions 7 & 8); 1 p.m. (Divisions 1 & 2); 4:30 p.m. (Divisions 5 & 6) and 7:30 p.m. (Divisions 3 and 4).

The 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. games will be televised live on Fox Sports Detroit & Fox Sports Detroit-PLUS. The 4:30 and 7:30 games will be televised live on Fox Sports Detroit-PLUS.

On with the forecast:

HIGH SCHOOL

Last week: 1-1, .500

Season: 149-38, .797

11-Player State

Championships

Friday

D2

Detroit Martin Luther King 28,

Muskegon Mona Shores 21

D4

Detroit Country Day 34,

Grand Rapids Catholic 28

D6

Monroe St. Mary's 23

Maple City Glen Lake 20

D8

Reading 35, Beal City 27

Saturday

D1

Davison 27, Brighton 21

D3

Muskegon 33, River Rouge 22

D5

Lansing Catholic 28, Almont 21

D7

Jackson Lumen Christi 21

Pewamo-Westphalia 20

COLLEGE

Last week: 41-9, .820

Season: 503-123, .804

Thursday

Mississippi 28, Miss. St. 24

Friday

CMU 35, Toledo 27

EMU 33, Kent State 27

Iowa 23, Nebraska 17

Appalachian St. 38, Troy 27

Boise State 34, Colorado St. 24

Buffalo 38, Bowling Green 17

Memphis 32, Cincinnati 21

Missouri 30, Arkansas 20

TCU 28, W. Virginia 17

Texas 38, Texas Tech 28

UCF 41, S. Florida 20

Va. Tech 27, Virginia 24

Washington 31, Wash. St. 27

Saturday

Ohio State 34, Michigan 24

MSU 38, Maryland 13

Notre Dame 42, Stanford 17

Minnesota 24, Wisconsin 23

Illinois 37, Northwestern 24

Indiana 35, Purdue 28

Penn State 56, Rutgers 3

Air Force 28, Wyoming 17

Alabama 28, Auburn 27

Arizona State 35, Arizona 24

Baylor 42, Kansas 20

BYU 21, San Diego St. 20

California 34, UCLA 30

Charlotte 33, Old Dominion 22

Clemson 52, S. Carolina 10

Georgia 24, Geo. Tech 3

Geo. State 32, Geo. Southern 23

Fla. Atlantic 31, Southern Miss. 24

Florida 38, Florida State 20

Iowa State 31, Kansas St. 28

LSU 49, Texas A&M 31

La.-Lafayette 42, La.-Monroe 21

La. Tech 30, San Antonio 22

Kentucky 31, Louisville 27

Navy 27, Houston 20

Nevada 31, UTEP 24

Miami, Fla. 28, Duke 21

Oklahoma 42, Okla. St. 28

Oregon 35, Oregon St. 14

Pittsburgh 23, Boston College 14

Rice 34, UTEP 31

SMU 28, Tulane 24

Temple 34, UConn 17

Tennessee 31, Vanderbilt 17

Tulsa 42, E. Carolina 35

Utah 45, Colorado 10

Utah State 33, New Mexico 20

Wake Forest 31, Syracuse 27

W. Kentucky 34, Mid-Tenn. St. 24

Al Arend is a sports correspondent for The Herald-Palladium. His weekly football prediction column is appearing a day early due to the Thanksgiving holiday.