After a crushing lost last week, Michigan will try to make a statement and show they belong in the top four. This one could be considered a trap game as teams tend to overlook Indiana, as they aren’t your typical B1G powerhouse. But since Kevin Wilson took over, they are capable of shocking anyone they play.
Rushing Offense against Indiana
Michigan’s offensive line has lost that fire they once possessed. Starting left tackle, Grant Newsome is done for the season but that’s not an excuse for how poorly they’ve played as a unit lately.
Against Iowa, Michigan ran for 98 yards on 35 carries- simply not good enough. The line showed zero push and the running backs had no room to run. Using his shiftiness and vision, freshman running back Chris Evans continues to be a bright spot out of the backfield.
Indiana has taken on a different identity defensively this season. Usually leaky and laughable, the Hoosiers look like they have taken some pride on that side of the ball. They held Penn State’s Saquon Barkley to 1.8 yards per carry last week on 33 carries. Barkley came into that game averaging over six.
Linebackers Tegray Scales and Marcus Oliver lead the team in stops. Tegray also has 15 tackles for loss through 10 games.
- Advantage: Michigan
De’Veon Smith will need to get back on track before facing Ohio State in Columbus. After a 12 carry, 28 yard performance, he must redeem himself. It seems like his vision comes and goes but his offensive line should shoulder some of the blame as well.
Passing Offense against Indiana
Reports are running rampant that Wilton Speight will not play this weekend. Harbaugh has not confirmed or denied the report but we will assume transfer John O’Korn will receive the first start of his Michigan career.
O’Korn is no rookie when it comes to college football. He started a season and a half at Houston before deciding to transfer. O’Korn’s freshman season was a good one, finishing with 28 touchdowns and AAC’s freshman of the year award. Losing the job in his sophomore season, he decided to look elsewhere for playing time. O’Korn is definitely more mobile than Speight, so the option to use more zone read may be on the table.
Indiana has produced 22 sacks and 19 quarterback hurries, which could make things more difficult for O’Korn in his first start. Not only do they pressure well, they have experienced defensive backs.
The best is Rashard Fants. His interception numbers won’t impress you but the guy has 16 pass break ups, good for first in the country. Quarterbacks have learned to look the other way when facing the likes of Fants.
- Advantage: Push
There’s a pretty good chance Speight will not play Saturday leaving the offense in the hands of someone who hasn’t started a game in two seasons. Indiana smells blood in the water after seeing Michigan blow a game last week; expect to get the Hoosier’s best effort.
Rushing Defense against Indiana
Michigan needs to get back to basics when it comes to form tackling. The Wolverines were tackling machines earlier in the season and have since had problems completing the play. They have been missing and outright whiffing on tackles, something Harbaugh coached teams don’t normally have a problem with.
Hoosier running back Devine Redding is no slouch in the backfield. With 901 yards and five touchdowns, Redding runs with a purpose. He is sixth in the B1G in rushing.
Quartback Zander Diamont has also shown flashes when it comes to running the ball as well. Averaging eight yards a carry, he is someone Michigan must account for on the field.
- Advantage: Michigan
After a loss, Harbaugh will go back to the drawing board to correct any issues this team may be having. Michigan is still the top defense in the country, allowing only 113 yards per game on the ground
Passing Defense against Indiana
Passing has been the name of the game since head coach Kevin Wilson took over a few seasons back. Second in the B1G, Indiana is throwing for just over 300 yards per game.
Indiana will employ a two quarterback system with Richard Lagow likely getting the start and Diamont entering on occasion. Lagow possesses the bigger, more accurate arm but is not nearly as mobile as Diamont. Diamont can hurt you with his feet but still has the capability to throw the ball when needed.
Nick Westbrook is the go to guy on the outside for the Hoosiers. Averaging 18 yards per catch, he is as explosive as this Indiana team gets with 793 yards and five touchdowns. Senior wide receiver Ricky Jones eclipsed the 200-yard mark earlier in the season against Wake Forest, something an average receiver just doesn’t do. This duo is seasoned and will hurt opposing defensing if they aren’t covered well.
- Advantage: Michigan
Michigan’s pass defense will definitely be tested this weekend. Indiana is not afraid to throw the ball down the field and will make the secondary work all afternoon. If Indiana can hit a few big plays, there’s a chance for them but with this group’s track record, don’t count on it.
Prediction: Michigan 34 – Indiana 17
This one will be closer than the experts think. Indiana is not on the Wolverine’s level but coming off a draining loss, it could turn out to be a battle. Michigan will pull away late.
Photo Credit: SaturdayTradition.com
Graduated intramural sports king at Eastern Michigan University. Content contributor at MGoFish.com
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