Written By Alex Compton (@alexncompton)
This is one of the most important games on IU’s schedule. A win over Michigan on Saturday makes the Hoosiers 4-2 and the conversation for 7 and 8 wins becomes very very real. After struggling on offense for most of the year against Power 5 competition, the Wolverines were exposed by Michigan State in a home loss last week. John O’Korn will start again this week as Wilton Speight battles a back injury, which probably means the offense won’t be as explosive (if it was before). This will likely lead to a lot of punts, especially when you consider the fact that IU’s defense is playing really well and playing at home. This weekend could very well be a punter’s paradise, which would not be easy on the eyes.
HAYDON WHITEHEAD VS. BRAD ROBBINS
After a really strong start to the year, Haydon Whitehead has struggled somewhat in the last few weeks. He has lacked the consistency that we saw early on in the year, and this weekend would be a great time for him to rediscover his true form. Special teams play has been much improved this year excluding the Penn State game, and the lefty from Australia has been a huge part of that. IU is second in the country in forcing three and outs, and Michigan is first in the country. Pit them against each other, and you may be looking at a game with 20 total punts. Special teams will be absolutely massive, and flipping the field or missing a field goal could mean the difference between a win or a loss.
On the other side of the field, Michigan has already made a switch at punter. True freshman Brad Robbins has been the guy for the last two games against Purdue and Michigan State, and has punted 7 times in each of them. He is averaging about 41 yards per kick through two weeks, and has been pretty good at forcing fair catches or minimal returns. J-Shun Harris should be back on Saturday, and his ability to take kicks to the house will make it crucial for Robbins to place them carefully to avoid a third return touchdown for Harris. Look, I want an exciting game as much as the next person, but I really do think this will be a classic, tough, gritty Big Ten game filled with lots of inside runs and kicks. IU hasn’t been a part of a game like that in a long, long time, so it could actually be quite refreshing to see. And if there are 20 punts, don’t blame me. But, I told you so.
Other Notes On This Matchup: