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Indiana football 2022 opponent preview: Michigan

After sky-high offseason expectations turned into a 2-10 regular season campaign in 2021 for Indiana football, head coach Tom Allen and company are looking to get back on track in the 2022 season. We are profiling each of the 12 teams Indiana will face this season as the Hoosiers look to right the ship. Up next is Michigan, the reigning conference champions who reached the College Football Playoff for the first time in program history in 2021.

  • Opponent: Michigan
  • Date/Time/TV: Sat., Oct. 8, 12:00 P.M., TV TBA
  • Location: Memorial Stadium, Bloomington, Ind.
  • 2021 record/postseason result: 12-2 overall, 9-1 Big Ten, won Big Ten Championship 42-3 vs Iowa, lost Orange Bowl 34-11 vs Georgia.

Returning Starters, Offense (8): QB Cade McNamara, WR Cornelius Johnson, WR Roman Wilson, WR Ronnie Bell, OL Ryan Hayes, OL Trevor Keegan, OL Zak Zinter, TE Erick All.

Starters Lost, Offense (3): OL Andrew Vastardis, OL Andrew Steuber, RB Hassan Haskins

Offensive Outlook: Years of coming up short ended in 2021 for Michigan, as the Wolverines claimed their first Big Ten championship since 2004, a total 180 from a 2-4 2020 campaign. Spearheading that turnaround on the offensive side of the football was a duo of two of the top running backs in the nation in Hassan Haskins and Blake Corum, who shared the spotlight all season long, including a primetime win over Washington in which both rushed for 150 yards individually. While Haskins is a Tennessee Titan now, Corum returns and should see even more carries as Michigan likely continues to rely on their rushing attack.

While last year’s starting quarterback, Cade McNamara, returns, there remains a quarterback controversy in Ann Arbor between him and second-year five-star J.J. McCarthy. Head coach Jim Harbaugh has yet to name a starter, but either signal caller should have serious weapons to throw to with three returning starters at wide receiver, including Ronnie Bell, who shined in 2019 and 2020 before sustaining a season-ending injury in Michigan’s 2021 season opening win over Western Michigan.

The only newcomer on the offensive side for Michigan is center Olusegun Oluwatimi, a graduate transfer who joins from Virginia.

Returning Starters, Defense (4): DT Mazi Smith, LB, Nikhai Hill-Green, LB Junior Colson, CB DJ Turner,

Starters Lost, Defense (7): DE Aidan Hutchinson, S Dax Hill, DE David Ojabo, DT Christopher Hinton, LB Josh Ross, S Brad Hawkins, CB Vincent Gray.

Defensive Outlook: Michigan’s superstar defensive line pair of Aidan Hutchinson and David Ojabo are now both NFL bound with the Detroit Lions and Baltimore Ravens, respectively, but the Wolverines return nearly the rest of last season’s unit. Eight starters return from a team that finished eighth in the nation in total defense a season ago.

At the edge, Mike Morris and Jaylen Harrell, last season’s second string, are set to replace the pair of NFL Draft picks. Two returning interior defensive linemen, nose tackle Mazi Smith and defensive tackle Kris Jenkins, could see an increased presence in the pass rush as the veterans of the bunch with Ojabo and Hutchinson gone. 

Another loss for the Wolverines is that of former defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald, who turned around the unit after a brutal 2020 under Don Brown. Macdonald left one Harbaugh brother’s staff for another, joining John’s Baltimore Ravens staff as the team’s defensive coordinator, reuniting with David Ojabo in the process. Replacing him is Jesse Minter, who was defensive coordinator at Vanderbilt after spending four seasons on John Harbaugh’s staff in Baltimore.

Returning Starters, Special Teams: K Jake Moody, P Brad Robbins, LS William Wagner.

Starters Lost, Special Teams: None.

Special Teams Outlook: Michigan returns perhaps the best placekicker in college football, Jake Moody. A consensus All-American in 2021, Moody had the second-most accurate season in program history last year, converting on 92% of his attempts, and holds the program record for most field goals in a game with six in Michigan’s 2018 home win over Indiana. Punter Brad Robbins, a three-time All-Big Ten selection, returns for his sixth year in the Maize and Blue.

Overall outlook: Michigan went from a preseason unranked team to Big Ten champions and a College Football Playoff appearance, the team’s most successful season in nearly two decades. If the defense can reload rather than rebuild, the Wolverines will be in the conversation to repeat in both categories. Last time the teams met in Bloomington, it was Indiana who ended a three-decade losing streak to the Wolverines. This time around, however, Indiana certainly will have its hands full when Michigan comes to town on the second weekend of October.

More 2022 opponent previews:

The Daily Hoosier –“Where Indiana fans assemble when they’re not at Assembly”