Written by T.J. Inman (@TJHoosierHuddle)
What: Indiana Hoosiers (5-5) at Michigan Wolverines (9-1)
Where: Michigan Stadium
When: Saturday, November 17 at 4:00
How to Watch: The game will be broadcast on FOX. You can also listen to the legendary Don Fischer on the radio on any IU Radio Network station.
What’s at Stake: The Michigan Wolverines have a whole lot at stake as they enter this game at 9-1 and in control of their College Playoff Football destiny. They know that if they can beat Indiana, win in Columbus against archrival Ohio State (and complete their Revenge Tour) and then beat Northwestern in the Big Ten Championship game, they will be in the College Football Playoff and have a shot at the National Championship. In addition, Saturday is Senior Day and a number of high-profile players will play in Michigan Stadium for the final time. Indiana is sitting at 5-5 after a dramatic victory over Maryland. This game represents one of two chances to earn bowl eligibility. IU has not won at Michigan since the 1960s so the much more realistic opportunity comes next Saturday in the Old Oaken Bucket game.
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Our goal is to help Hoosier fans relive their favorite sports memories while highlighting some of the great artwork and photography distributed over the decades. Cards will be released on Twitter prior to game time.
Things to Watch
1. Stay Healthy
I don’t like being a defeatist but I feel we must at least acknowledge the reality of the situation. Indiana has not been able to win at Michigan since the 1960s and this is not the Michigan team that appears likely to allow that streak to end. The Hoosiers biggest game of the season happens two days after Thanksgiving and I believe the priority should be making sure you are as healthy as possible for that contest. That doesn’t mean you don’t try in Ann Arbor and it doesn’t mean you just accept defeat but I think this is a great opportunity to give Stevie Scott a bit of a break in terms of number of carries and give extra work to Ronnie Walker or Ricky Brookins. Ditto for anyone else that is banged up. The top realistic priority on Saturday is to get to the Purdue game in as good of shape as possible.
2. Moving the Ball on the Immovable Object
Michigan’s defense is dominant. Defensive coordinator Don Brown is one of the best minds in the business and he has a terrific crop of veterans and young players that have gelled into perhaps the best defense in the country. Chase Winovich (one of my favorite defensive players to watch), Rashan Gary and Kwity Paye have all been outstanding on the front. Devin Bush is one of the best linebackers in the country and their secondary is an aggressive unit that is as good as anyone in the country (when they are allowed to grab and hold, that’s not a shot at them but they are very aggressive and if it is not called they are very good). IU is going to struggle to move the ball consistently on this unit so they will need to rely on explosive plays to eat up chunks of yards instead of methodical drives.
3. Improving Offense
I entered the season thinking Michigan’s offense would prevent it from playing at a Big Ten title-winning level. That appeared to be a dead-on assessment of things in the first part of the season as the playcalling continued to be conservative and Shea Patterson looked uncomfortable in a less wide-open attack. However, they slowly began to mold the offense into more of what Patterson does well and the transfer quarterback became more comfortable with what was being asked of him. For the past couple of months, their offense has been outstanding. Karan Higdon is a terrific running back, the offensive line seems to get better each week and the trio of Donavan Peoples-Jones, Zach Gentry and the surprising Nico Collins have been more than enough as explosive weapons in the passing game. If they get in short yardage, they have no problem handing off to the fullback Ben Mason. The Wolverines now have a very good offense to go with their dominant defense. Looking at the Hoosiers defense, I would just like to see better tackling than what we saw against Maryland in order to feel more confident about the Bucket game.
What the Sharps are Saying
The Hoosiers are a big underdog at the Big House on Saturday. Michigan is favored by 28 points and ESPN’s FPI gives the Wolverines a 96-percent chance at coming away with a win. The Hoosiers have not won in Ann Arbor since 1967.
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