The Indiana Hoosiers (3-2, 0-2) will host the 17th ranked Michigan Wolverines (4-1, 1-1) at Memorial Stadium in Bloomington this Saturday at Noon ET. The 65th installment in the series between the two Big Ten teams will be televised on ABC, with Michigan currently riding a 21 game win streak against the Hoosiers. Various money lines favor the Wolverines by 6-7 points.
Do or Die
We are officially at a turning point in the season. Michigan is mere days off a painful loss to one of their biggest rivals in front of a rabid, sold out Big House crowd. John O’Korn has the team on his back, whether he likes it or not. The chances of the offensive line metamorphosing into something that resembles anything approaching a competent unit are quite slim, and the wideouts show no signs of gaining an extra burst of speed or route running abilities. The Michigan Football team is currently, in its most basic form, composed of an incredible defense, paired with an unfortunately turnover prone offense. Thankfully, there shouldn’t be any egregious blowouts because of that defense, but a good number of the games remaining on the schedule have gone from appearing to be comfortable wins to looking like slow, drawn out, tossup games.
While the Michigan defense continues to be dominant, it is the offense that garners the majority of the attention, and most of it negative attention. After allowing O’Korn to be sacked six times, the Michigan offensive line has some serious soul searching to do. In year three of the Harbaugh system, they have yet to live up to the expectations that have accompanied the rest of the Michigan football team since Harbaugh arrived in Ann Arbor. The Wolverine faithful are hoping for a dramatic turnaround, or we may be looking at a three or four loss Michigan team at the end of the season.
Why I like Michigan
Perhaps the main reason why I like Michigan to win this football game is because the likelihood of a torrential downpour for the second week in a row is quite low. The weather aside, Indiana is a middling team both in points allowed and points per game, 59th and 69th respectively. In addition to a decidedly placid offense and defense, they rank 123rd in the country with a minus-7 turnover margin; turning the ball over 11 times while only recovering four turnovers. Hopefully that will offset the turnover prone Wolverines, who gave up five turnovers last week. The high-octane Michigan defense should be able to exploit the mistake heavy Indiana offense at home, with their combination of blitz packages and excellent secondary play.
Why I don’t like Michigan
Turnovers are a double-edged sword, especially when it comes to this game; Indiana gives up a ton of turnovers, and so do the Wolverines. Against the Spartans the Wolverines gave up five turnovers, and while a majority of those can be attributed to the rain, they were mistakes nonetheless. If the Wolverines can solve that problem, it will go a long way towards assuaging their offensive woes associated with not being able to move the ball. However, if it is another 3+ turnover outing for the Wolverines, my optimism for the outcome of this showdown drops off pretty quickly. Look for All-American linebacker Tegray Scales to have a big game against what I’m hoping will be a run-heavy Michigan offensive gameplan, as he leads his defense with 28 solo tackles this season. Last year he led the Big Ten with 126 total tackles, and led the nation with 23.5 tackles for loss.
The Bottom Line
If it weren’t for the championship caliber defense currently at Don Brown’s command, this game would be a tossup at best. A struggling, turnover prone offense paired with questionable playcalling has not done the Wolverines any favors this year, and it finally caught up to them after their loss last week. If the Michigan offense can score three touchdowns, I think that puts them securely in the drivers seat to win this game. The Indiana offense went through four quarterbacks last season, and under first-year head coach Tom Allen the teeth of the Michigan defense will be overwhelm the Hoosiers, who will lose their 22nd straight game to the Wolverines at home. Michigan wins, 24-10
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