It is the last home game for sixteen Indiana seniors, and it has been a memorable final campaign.
Bowl eligible and having already clinched their first winning season in more than a decade, now the Hoosiers set their sights on obstacles that have stood in their way for a generation.
A win on Saturday would secure Indiana’s first eight win season since 1993, and the first victory against Michigan since 1987.
But IU isn’t the only team in this matchup that has seemingly turned a corner.
The Wolverines arrive in Bloomington red hot, outscoring their opponents 141-38 over the last 14 quarters.
MICHIGAN (8-2, 5-2) at INDIANA (7-3, 4-3)
- Kickoff: 3:30 p.m. ET
- Location: Memorial Stadium (52,656), Bloomington, Indiana
- Television: ESPN
- Series: Michigan leads the series 58-9.
- Odds: Michigan is a 9.5 point favorite
- Weather at kickoff: 38 degrees, wind 8 mph, 50% chance of precipitation.
Tom Allen is 17-18 and now in his third full season as the head coach at Indiana.
Jim Harbaugh is 46-16 (.742) in his fifth season as Michigan head coach. He owns a 104-43 (.708) overall record with stints at Stanford (2007-10) and San Diego (2004-06). Harbaugh coached the San Francisco 49ers from 2011-14.
Indiana will recognize 16 seniors prior to Saturday’s game:
- WR Justin Berry,
- CB Andre Brown Jr.,
- S Khalil Bryant,
- OL Coy Cronk,
- DE Gavin Everett,
- WR Donavan Hale,
- LB Reakwon Jones,
- K Logan Justus,
- C Hunter Littlejohn,
- OL DaVondre Love,
- CB A-Shon Riggins,
- K Jared Smolar,
- DE Allen Stallings IV,
- OL Simon Stepaniak,
- RB Connor Thomas, and
- WR Nick Westbrook
- Tom Allen’s final thoughts on Michigan
- Jim Harbaugh’s comments on Indiana
- Emotions will be running high after comments
TALE OF THE TAPE
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BTN GAME PREVIEW
WHEN MICHIGAN HAS THE FOOTBALL
If there is a weakness with the Wolverines, it’s with their offense. At least that was the case.
Michigan has put up 437, 331 and 467 yards of offense over the last three weeks. In the bookend performances against Notre Dame and Michigan State, the Wolverines put up 303 rushing yards and 384 passing yards, respectively.
In other words, pick your poison when it comes to stopping the run or pass.
Michigan State’s Mark Dantonio gambled with stacking the box and forcing quarterback Shea Patterson to beat him — and that plan backfired. Patterson had by far his best game of the season, going 24-of-33 for 384 yards and four touchdowns last weekend against the Spartans.
On the season Patterson has been more pedestrian, completing just 59.1 percent of his throws, and he isn’t a major threat to run.
Ronnie Bell leads Michigan with 36 receptions and 610 yards but it is unclear if he will play on Saturday as he recovers from a lower body injury. Beyond Bell, four other pass catchers have at least 21 receptions as Patterson spreads the ball around well.
Two running backs lead the way for Michigan. Zach Charbonnet has 124 carries for 589 yards and a 11 touchdowns, while Hassan Haskins has contributed 78 carries for 439 yards and three scores.
With wet and cold conditions and IU more confident in their pass defense, look for the Hoosiers to force Patterson to beat them — and hope he doesn’t repeat his Michigan State performance.
WHEN INDIANA HAS THE FOOTBALL
All eyes will be on Whop Philyor before the game. Indiana’s big play receiver leads the team with 61 catches and 863 yards for the season. The Tampa product suffered a concussion against Penn State and has the “game time decision” label for Saturday.
IU head coach Tom Allen has not hidden the fact that Indiana is much better offensively when Philyor is in the game. That became readily apparent when he missed significant time in 2018. Philyor exposes the middle of the field and loosens up good defenses like Michigan.
Quarterback Peyton Ramsey was still effective after Philyor left the game against the Nittany Lions, but Michigan’s No. 4 pass defense is a notch better. The Wolverines are No. 15 in the country with 32 sacks, No. 6 in third down conversion percentage at just 28%, and No. 4 in passing yards allowed.
IU has a size advantage on Michigan’s corners, but the Wolverines are elite in man coverage and the Hoosiers will have to stay committed to pushing the ball downfield out on the edge before the pass rush gets home.
Things don’t look much easier when the Hoosiers look to run.
Indiana running back coach Mike Hart is the Wolverines all-time leading rusher, and he’ll have his hands full trying to find yards against his alma mater.
Over the last six weeks opposing teams are averaging just 2.0 yards per carry with only three rushing touchdowns against Michigan.
Sophomore Stevie Scott is looking for his second straight 1,000 yards season. The New York native has 165 carries for 791 yards and nine touchdowns on the 2019 campaign.
Any ideas that the Wolverines are down this year have gone out the window. Michigan’s only losses on the season were at Wisconsin and at Penn State, and they completely dismantled Notre Dame, Maryland and Michigan State over the last three weeks.
But on the other hand, the last two meetings between these squads in Bloomington have gone to overtime, and Michigan was ranked in the top 20 both times. Indiana knows they can hang with the Wolverines.
The health of Philyor is a major factor for this game. His big play ability could literally keep the Hoosiers in this one. Beyond that, turnovers and special teams are of course variables that could make or break Indiana’s day.
The Hoosiers have not lost consecutive games this season, and we’ve underestimated IU several weeks in a row here.
But it will take a historic effort for a once-in-a-generation win.
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