Written By Sammy Jacobs (@Hoosier_Huddle)
The Hoosier Huddle Season Preview Series has reached its final stop on the Hoosiers home schedule, a senior day matchup with the Michigan Wolverines. Over the past few matchups this series has been filled with some classic moments while the Hoosiers have knocked on the door, but failed to knock it down, of victory.
Week 11: Michigan Wolverines
Time & Date: TBD, Saturday, Nov. 14
Venue: Memorial Stadium (52,929), Bloomington, Ind.
Wolverines at a Glance:
Head Coach: Jim Harbaugh
Last Season: 8-8 with the San Francisco 49ers
Wolverine Returning Leaders:
Passing: Jake Ruddock (61.7% 2,436 Yds, 16 TD 5 INT (at Iowa))
Rushing: De’Veon Smith (519 Yds, 4.8 Avg, 6 TD)
Receiving: Amara Darboh (473 Yds, 13.1 Avg, 2 TD)
Tackles: Joe Bolden (102 Tkl, 2 TFL, 1 PBU)
Preseason Magazine Predictions:
Lindy’s: 3rd in the Big Ten East
Sporting News: 3rd in the Big Ten East
Athlon Sports: 4th in the Big Ten East
Phil Steele: 3rd in the Big Ten East
Why the Wolverines could win:
The easy answer is because it’s Michigan and IU has only triumphed once since 1967 over the Maize and Blue, but we are better than that at Hoosier Huddle.
Michigan “won” the offseason with the hiring of new head coach Jim Harbaugh, and expectations for the coach have the Wolverines shooting for national relevance. While they still may be a year away from taking that leap, Michigan is a very dangerous team.
For one they have a reliable quarterback who can take care of the ball now in Jake Ruddock who was a graduate transfer from Iowa. Ruddock is the epitome of a game manager, one of the reasons they went another direction at Iowa. He is very accurate throwing short passes, but has issues and even hesitates to throw a deep ball, but with the running backs and a lack of go-to receivers Michigan may not need Ruddock to take many shots down field. After two frustrating years with Devin Gardner under center, Michigan fans should be happier to have Ruddock who can take care of the ball much better.
They also return their three top running backs in De’Veon Smith, Derrick Green, and Drake Johnson who combined for 13 touchdowns and 1,351 yards on the ground. With Harbaugh’s style of offense Michigan will be a “pound you into submission” type of team that will win games 24-10 or 17-13.
The defense will also be a strength for UM as they return three of their top five tacklers. They will also get a healthy Jabrill Peppers and Desmond Morgan back to replace some of the production lost from the departures of Frank Clark and Jake Ryan.
Why They Won’t Pull it Off:
If there has ever been a time that Indiana can knock off Michigan in the Harbaugh Era it is this season in Bloomington. The first year of a coaching transition is always the hardest as the coach usually has to deal with turnover, a small recruiting class, and the potential of veteran players not buying in. Also, quarterback transfers don’t always shake out like Russell Wilson at Wisconsin. The game is the second week of November and maybe Ruddock just is not a fit and Shane Morris steps in.
Indiana has had some close calls against Michigan since 2009. We all remember the Bill Lynch Gum Game in 2009 and the heart breaking 42-35 loss the next year in Bloomington as well as the 63-47 shoot out in Ann Arbor in 2013. Even last season the game was close despite the Hoosiers losing their starting quarterback. So, really who knows what can happen in 2015?
If the Hoosiers come into this game having won two of three, Memorial Stadium should see its second sell out of the season and IU will be riding a wave of momentum. Add in the fact that this will be senior day the emotions should be able to help carry Indiana to a victory.
Hoosier Win Percentage: