There are a lot of connection between the Indiana and Michigan football programs.
Former Michigan players Mike Hart (running backs) and Nick Sheridan (quarterbacks) are coaching on the Indiana staff, and offensive coordinator Mike DeBord is a former Michigan offensive coordinator.
Michigan’s roster features three Indiana natives: RB Chris Evans (Indianapolis/Ben Davis), LB Cam McGrone (Indianapolis/Lawrence Central) and QB Brandon Peters (Avon).
The similarities end there. Indiana hasn’t won in this series since 1987. Michigan is firmly in the running for the college football playoff, while Indiana is clinging to bowl eligibility.
No, it doesn’t look promising on Saturday. But despite the vast swath between the programs, two of the last three games have gone to overtime, and Michigan won the third by 10 points.
As evidenced by Indiana’s win over Maryland last weekend, this Hoosier team hasn’t quit on the season. IU is highly unlikely to pull the shocker on Saturday, but they will compete for Tom Allen.
INDIANA (5-5, 2-5) at MICHIGAN (9-1, 7-0)
- Kickoff: 4:00 p.m. Eastern Time
- Location: Michigan Stadium (107,601), Ann Arbor, Michigan
- Television: FS1
- Series: The Wolverines hold a 57-9 edge in the all-time series, including a 27-20 overtime victory in Bloomington when the teams met last year.
- Odds: Michigan is a 28 point favorite
- Weather at kickoff: 34 degrees, cloudy, winds at 5 mph, 15% chance of snow
Jim Harbaugh is coaching his alma mater. A former Wolverine quarterback, he is 37-12 during his tenure in Ann Arbor. He also spent four seasons at Stanford and was 29-21 there. Harbaugh also went 44-19-1 in four seasons leading the San Francisco 49ers, including a trip to the 2012 Super Bowl.
TALE OF THE TAPE
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WHEN INDIANA HAS THE FOOTBALL
The Hoosiers have their work cut out for them against the top ranked defense in the country, on their home field, on senior day.
You would like to think that IU has the best chance passing the ball, but that is playing right into Michigan’s strength. The Wolverines have given up the fewest passing yards in the country. If the IU offensive line can buy time for Peyton Ramsey, it will be interesting to see if the Hoosiers continue to look to attack downfield as they have over the last five quarters.
One thing that seems clear is that long methodical drives down the field aren’t going to work. Somehow IU is going to have to come up with big plays and find ways to win the field position battle. On the other hand, with such a high risk of three and outs, it may make sense to slow down the pace and try to minimize possessions.
Indiana came up with creative ways to stay competitive against Ohio State last month. It will take a similar effort against a better defense on Saturday.
WHEN MICHIGAN HAS THE FOOTBALL
Michigan appears to have a big advantage running the football. Last week IU gave up over 300 yards rushing to Maryland employing a bend but don’t break strategy. While the Hoosiers were successful at times with that approach against the Terrapins, it isn’t likely to work against the Wolverines.
Indiana might be able to gain an advantage, however, by keying on the running game. Michigan isn’t looking to have quarterback Shea Patterson take a bunch of hits prior to their showdown at Ohio State next weekend. The Hoosiers really have nothing to lose by throwing everything they have at the running game and daring Michigan to beat them through the air.
While Patterson is more than capable of doing just that, it hasn’t been the strength of their offense. If IU can force Michigan to make slow developing plays down the field to beat them, it might at least test Michigan’s resolve to go off script and beat the better part of IU’s defense.
What would it take? Win the turnover margin? Scores from the defense and special teams? All three? Probably, and that might not even be enough.
If you are a hopeless believer, here you go — despite only winning nine games ever against Michigan, seven of those wins have come in Ann Arbor. But you know better.
That whole saving Patterson for Ohio State thing? Indiana should take notes. The Hoosiers will need to bring back a healthy Ramsey if it wants to beat Purdue next week.
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