As college football season draws ever-closer, we’re running down Indiana’s schedule to preview its opponents for 2023.
Next up is Indiana’s first game after its bye week: a road test against Michigan at the Big House. The Wolverines enter the season ranked No. 2 in the preseason coaches poll, and are one of the favorites to win the Big Ten this year. IU knocked off UM in 2020, but has lost the last two matchups.
- Opponent: Michigan
- Date/Time/TV: Saturday, October 14, TBA
- Location: Michigan Stadium, Ann Arbor, Mich.
- 2022 record/postseason result: 13-1, 9-0 Big Ten, No. 3 seed in the College Football Playoff, lost to TCU in semifinals (Fiesta Bowl)
Returning production, offense: 84 percent (per Bill Connelly/ESPN)
Offensive outlook: The Wolverines have the most returning offensive production in the Big Ten, and are top-five in the country in that regard. And their returning production is high-level. Junior quarterback J.J. McCarthy had a strong 2022, finishing second in the Big Ten in quarterback rating en route to third team all-conference honors. Running back tandem Blake Corum and Donovan Edwards both finished top-five in the Big Ten in rushing yards per game last year, and they are clearly the most feared duo in the conference. Leading receiver Ronnie Bell is gone, but dangerous playmakers Cornelius Johnson and Roman Wilson return.
Tight end Luke Schoonmaker also moved on, and Michigan will fill that gap with IU transfer A.J. Barner and sophomore Colston Loveland. The Wolverines’ offensive line is one of their biggest strengths as a team. They lost two starters from last year, including All-American center Olu Oluwatimi. But they added some quality lineman in the portal, particularly in Arizona State transfer LaDarius Henderson (No. 3 offensive lineman in the transfer portal, per 247Sports).
Michigan was one of the top scoring offenses in the country last year, leaning on its stout rushing attack. Barring a big step back by McCarthy, the Wolverines should boast one of the top offenses in the Big Ten once again in 2023.
Returning production, defense: 78 percent (per Bill Connelly/ESPN)
Defensive outlook: Michigan also leads the Big Ten in returning defensive production. All-Big Ten linebackers Junior Colson and Michael Barrett give UM a strong duo in the middle. Colson and Barrett finished as Michigan’s top two tacklers last year, and Colson finished fourth in the conference in tackles.
Junior safety Rod Moore tied for fifth in the conference with four interceptions last year, and he returns in the secondary after starting all but one game in 2022. Sophomore Will Johnson wasn’t starting at cornerback until the end of the season for UM last year, but Pro Football Focus graded him as a top-10 cornerback in the country. He’ll line up opposite UMass transfer Josh Wallace.
Pass rush is a bit of a concern in Ann Arbor, after losing nose tackle Mazi Smith and edge rushers Mike Morris and Eyabi Okie. Senior Jaylen Harrell will have a bigger load to carry this year — he was solid in 2022, with 7.5 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks. But the Wolverines will need senior Braiden McGregor and sophomore Derrick Moore to step up this year — both recorded two sacks last year.
Michigan’s defense was one of the best in the country last year — seventh in scoring and rushing defense, 20th in passing defense, sixth in total defense. UM lost a few key pieces, but have plenty of returning talent to step in and keep things rolling.
Returning starters, special teams: kickoff returner Roman Wilson, long snapper William Wagner
Special teams outlook: Michigan lost All-Big Ten kicker Jake Moody, who won the Lou Groza Award last year, and replaced him with Louisville transfer James Turner. Turner finished 12th in the country with a 90.9 field goal percentage in 2022. The Wolverines also have a new punter this year, junior Tommy Doman. Returner A.J. Henning transferred to Northwestern, so the Wolverines will need others to step in his spot this year.
Overall Outlook: Like Ohio State, it’s obvious that Michigan will be good this year — the only question is how good. It’s very possible the Wolverines aren’t really tested this season until they play Penn State on November 11. And, as always, the Michigan-Ohio State game at the end of the regular season will determine a lot about this season for UM. But this is a team that has national championship potential if things go right in 2023.
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