The Hoosiers try to re-earn their place in the top 25 after a short-lived single week. While they are just outside of the list of ranked teams (they are literally the team with next most number of votes), Indiana is seeking national headlines with a statement win over the No. 12 Michigan Wolverines. With momentum on their side, Michigan will visit Bloomington on Indiana’s senior night.
One could argue that this is will be the biggest game for the Hoosiers all season. Not necessarily because of the ranking of the opponent, but given the possibility that Indiana could actually pull off the upset. The Hoosiers proved last week against Penn State that they can hang in for a one possession game against a top ten team in the country, and that was on the road.
How to Watch: Indiana Hoosiers versus Michigan Wolverines
|Who||Week 13: Indiana Hoosiers versus Michigan Wolverines|
|When||3:30 PM ET / Saturday, November 23, 2019|
|Where||Memorial Stadium — Bloomington, Ind.|
|Tickets||Find the Lowest Ticket Prices on SeatGeek|
|Listen||IU Radio Network|
|Spread||Michigan -10 / Over-Under: 54.5|
Meet the Wolverines
After a bit of an uneasy start to the 2019 season, the Michigan Wolverines have been a team that looks completely different in the second half of the season. Michigan headlined the Big Ten preseason with a lot of expectations. Many national publications had the Wolverines as the number one team in the Big Ten, even ahead of Ohio State.
After a close game against Army and a loss on the road to Wisconsin, we became a bit unsure of where Michigan would finish among the conference. Many believed that the preseason expectations for the Wolverines were too high, and of course social media began questioning the staff.
A turning point for their season took place at the end of their Wisconsin game on the road. After a 35 point deficit, the Wolverines closed the game with two unanswered touchdowns. Since then, Michigan has been on a complete tear with the exception of one game in Happy Valley, where they lost to Penn State by just a single possession.
They have outscored opponents 252 to 80 during that stretch, including a 31-point victory over Notre Dame and a 34-point victory over rival Michigan State. It’s safe to say that the Wolverines will enter Bloomington with a ton of confidence.
Key Offensive Players
Michigan is led by their senior quarterback Shea Patterson who has been a stable presence for the program. He had his ups and downs with the program, but overall he has accumulated career statistics of nearly 8,000 passing yards. On this season alone, he has thrown for 16 touchdowns and just four picks. Patterson is an accurate thrower and is throwing at just shy of 60% on the season. When the pocket collapses for the Wolverines, Patterson can handle the pressure better than the average quarterback, and he has good decision making capabilities, but he is not known for his ability to run on explosive plays. His running game mostly comes in the form of short distances for first downs or to find the end zone.
The Michigan backfield primarily manned by Zach Charbonnet, who has 124 rushing attempts and 589 total yards this season. He is the main workhorse in Michigan’s running back committee, considering they have 3 other running backs with over 40 carries on the season. The other backfield name you should expect to see is sophomore Hassan Haskins, who is averaging 5.6 yards per carry this season.
Michigan has an equally deep receiving core as Indiana. Ronnie Bell leads the team with 610 yards on 36 receptions; however, he has yet to find the endzone through the air. In red-zone opportunities, Patterson relies on juniors WR Nico Collins and WR Donovan People-Jones. The pair account for eight of Michigan’s 18 receiving touchdowns this year.
Special Teams Note
Michigan has a pair of kickers that have been somewhat streaky. They opened the season with both kickers vying to be the main starter, and since then, Jim Harbaugh has used both. Sophomore Jake Moody is 6 of 9 on the season and senior Quinn Nordin is currently 4 of 7. As of late, Nordin has been the primary placekicker (3 of 3 in their last game against Michigan State), but there is certainly uneasiness for the Michigan kicking brigade each time they take the field.
Key Defensive Players
According to ESPN’s SP+ ratings, Michigan currently has a top-five defense nationally. While reliable, Michigan’s defense does not necessarily have superstars in their cast like Ohio State’s Chase Young.
The veteran linebacker group has a trio of players that account for 203 total tackles this season: senior Khaleke Hudson, senior Jordan Glasgow, and sophomore Cameron McGrone. Hudson and Glasgow combine for 6.5 sacks and 4 pass deflections.
Senior linebacker Josh Uche has 18 solo tackles and leads the team with 7.5 sacks this season.
Michigan’s line is capped by Aidan Hutchinson as the strong-side defensive end and Kwity Paye as the weak-side defensive end. The athletic pair, nicknamed “salt and pepper,” is one of the best duos in the league. Collectively, the two have tallied 86 total tackles, and 9 sacks. Hutchinson has five pass deflections this season also.
Indiana will need to be careful throwing into Michigan’s secondary that has made eight interceptions on the season. Ambry Thomas and Lavert Hill tie for second most interceptions in the Big Ten with three a piece. Both players add another interception to their total last week against Michigan State.
Week 13: What to watch for against the Wolverines
1. A Penix-less, Whop-less Indiana offense
We have seen that Kalen DeBoer’s offense seems to have the same effectiveness whether quarterback Michael Penix Jr. or Peyton Ramsey is behind center.
With Whop Philyor likely out for Saturday’s match-up due to a double helmet-to-helmet hit, freshman WR David Ellis will take on the speedy receiver role.
Arguably Indiana’s two biggest offensive weapons will be unavailable on Saturday.
Frankly, the Hoosiers have had no problems without either player. We have seen the sustainability of DeBoer’s offensive scheme, which did completely fine under the leadership of Ramsey after Philyor left the game in Happy Valley. Will they need to make some minor adjustments to attack a top five Michigan defense? Certainly, but there is a reason the Hoosiers have one of the most efficient offenses in the nation.
One of the biggest reasons that a Whop-less is not the end of world is that ability to have players like Ellis, Ty Fryfogle, and Peyton Hendershot step up when their jersey number is called.
2. Opening up gaps for Stevie Scott will be a key to victory.
Indiana has heavily relied on their passing offense to carry them to the win column; however, Michigan has a top three passing defense in the conference and the Hoosiers may not get the same open looks that they got against Penn State, who rank near the bottom in passing defense.
The crease in the Michigan defense exists in their ability to guard the run. They have one of the top rushing defenses in the country, so this is really a reflection of how good their secondary has been. Nonetheless, the Hoosiers have to equalize the balance between air-and-ground, which in turn means more emphasis on Stevie Scott and the rest of the running back room.
3. Can Michigan senior QB Shea Patterson be forced into bad decisions?
Patterson may not be the flashiest quarterback in the league, but he does get the nod for being an above average decision maker. On the entire 2019 season, he has only been picked off four times.
Like the Hoosiers, Michigan’s offensive line has been one of the stingiest teams in the league in terms of allowing sacks. They have only given up 18 sacks on the season, which is just three away from the Big Ten leaders (which happen to be Indiana and Michigan State).
The Hoosiers need to rely on their front seven to apply pressure through all four quarters. If they can apply pressure from the line and prevent explosive plays with their secondary, Indiana has an opportunity to hold down Michigan’s offense to a reasonable level.
With Indiana’s offense, that’s all they really need to do. The defense doesn’t have to be spectacular and score points. Instead, they just need to be solid enough to generate a few fourth downs throughout the game.
4. Reducing self-inflicted wounds
Lastly, there were a number of self-inflicted wounds in Indiana’s game at Happy Valley. We won’t go into the officiating, but at the very least the muffed kickoff return, accidental fake punt, and drop in the endzone by Donavan Hale could have kept Indiana in the game for longer.
For Indiana to compete against programs like Michigan, where they are underdogs in terms of talent, Indiana has to play a near perfect game and certainly reduce the number of self-inflicted detriments. The Hoosiers have been fairly consistent in their lack of turnovers and will need to continue banking on that this Saturday.
Hopefully a home environment, as opposed to 100,000 strong in Happy Valley, can help alleviate some of the high pressure in the moment.
Week 13: Indiana Hoosiers versus Michigan Wolverines
34-27 Indiana. Back home in the comfortable confines of Memorial Stadium, the Hoosiers take the victory in their last home game this season. Big games from David Ellis and Ty Fryfogle allow Indiana to sustain the DeBoer scheme even without Whop.Rob Jiang
33-24 Michigan. The Hoosiers overcome a slow start offensively and take the lead in the second half. However, the Wolverines prove to be too much to handle in the fourth quarter and they pull away from Indiana.Andrew Rude
27-24 Indiana. Facing another stout run defense, the Hoosiers use the short passing game to break down Michigan’s secondary. Look for David Ellis and Miles Marshall to play an increased role. Logan Justus makes a key late field goal to give Indiana win number eight.Nithin Krishnan
35-28 Indiana. Indiana breaks the 30 point mark and secures it’s 8th win. The Hoosier defense will struggle again but their offense will shine assuming the return of Philyor to the WR mix. .Dakota Thompson
Featured Photo: Gregory Shamus / Getty Images