Can Indiana somehow manage to end their 22-game losing streak to the Wolverines on Saturday in Ann Arbor?
First, it is nearing 31 years now since the Hoosiers (5-5, 2-5 Big Ten) have beaten the Wolverines (9-1, 7-0) as Michigan is in the midst of a 22-game win streak that dates all the way back to October 1987. Heck, the author of this preview wasn’t even alive the last time Indiana won a game in this rivalry. If the Hoosiers were to pull off the upset this weekend, they also would break their road losing streak to the Wolverines that extends even further, back to 1967.
Indiana has been inching closer to defeating the Wolverines as the matchups have been extremely competitive in each of the last three years, with the average combined differential just nine points.
Can Michigan avoid looking ahead to next week and take care of business against a Hoosier team desperate to get to bowl eligibility?
Indiana at Michigan
Kickoff: Saturday, Nov. 17 at 4 p.m. ET
Spread: Michigan -28
Three Things to Watch
1. Ground and pound part II
Last week against Rutgers, the game plan was evident. Run, run and run some more. But also, and more importantly, keep quarterback Shea Patterson out of harm’s way. Expect much of the same this week as the Hoosiers have struggled mightily on defense in 2018, already having given up five more touchdowns this year (23) in 10 games than they did all of last season (18). In the win last week over Maryland, the Hoosiers allowed 353 yards on the ground, including 210 to redshirt freshman Anthony McFarland. There will likely be a heavy dosage of Karan Higdon, Chris Evans and Tru Wilson on Saturday.
2. Balanced attack
The Hoosiers don’t do anything special on offense, but do just enough both on the ground and through the air to remain competitive in most games. This actually bodes well against a defense like Michigan that suffocates most one-dimensional offenses. Though you could probably say the same thing about most offenses that take on this Wolverines defense in 2018. Sophomore quarterback Peyton Ramsey is completing better than 67 percent of his passes on the year and has now topped over 200 passing yards in each of the last seven games. Joining him in the backfield is freshman running back Stevie Scott, who is just 106 yards shy of 1,000 yards on the ground with a team-high eight rushing touchdowns. The Hoosiers will need both facets of their offensive attack clicking if they are to pull off the upset.
3. Not looking ahead
The Wolverines know what is in front of them potentially if they are able to win out in the regular season. And they know most certainly know which opponent is looming next week. But first things first — take care of business this Saturday against the Hoosiers. As mentioned previously, Indiana has played the Wolverines tough in each of the last three matchups, two of which were taken into overtime. It should be a special afternoon in Ann Arbor with a number of seniors (and possibly juniors) taking part in Senior Day for the home finale. The Wolverines just can’t let any of those distractions get in the way of securing a victory.
While on paper this matchup looks to be fairly one-sided, expect a competitive contest as the stakes are high for both teams heading into this weekend. Indiana is down to two chances to claim bowl eligibility, while Michigan is inching closer and closer to their first Big Ten Championship Game appearance if the Wolverines are able to win out. Indiana keeps this one close in the first half before Michigan flexes its muscles and moves to 10-1, setting up the epic showdown next week in The Game.
Prediction: Michigan 34, Indiana 13
— Written by Mike Bainbridge, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Bainbridge is a graduate of Northern Illinois University. Follow him on Twitter @MBainbridgeCFF.