The streak is well-documented by now — the Indiana Hoosiers have lost 24 straight games to the Michigan Wolverines, with their last victory coming back in 1987 before the author of this article was even born.
Head coach Tom Allen has this Hoosier program on an upward trajectory coming off their first eight-win season in 2019 and starts this season 2-0 — the first 2-0 start in Big Ten play since 1991. Indiana notched a sound victory over Rutgers last weekend, 37-21, with the defense allowing just 247 total yards and forcing three turnovers.
As for the Wolverines... yikes. Coming into the week as 25-point favorites, Michigan (1-1) lost yet again to in-state rival Michigan State 27-24. The offense, which thrived the previous week against Minnesota, looked disjointed despite putting up 452 total yards, while the defense struggled to limit big plays as the secondary was torched left and right by freshman wideout Ricky White, who had 196 yards and averaged over 24 yards per reception. Fire up the hot-seat talk in Ann Arbor for Jim Harbaugh and the entire coaching staff.
No. 23 Michigan at No. 13 Indiana
Kickoff: Saturday, Nov. 7 at 12 p.m. ET
TV Channel: FS1
Spread: Michigan -3.5
When Michigan Has the Ball
The Michigan offense moved the ball against the Spartans but lacked explosive plays, as the Wolverines had just two plays go for more than 20 yards. That was the difference on Saturday as the Spartans averaged 19 yards per successful pass (323 yards on 17 completions) compared to Michigan's 9.4 (500 on 32). But it wasn't for a lack of trying. After attempting just 22 throws in the opener against Minnesota, first-year starting quarterback Joe Milton had 51 attempts last Saturday in the Wolverines' comeback attempt but managed just 5.9 yards on all those dropbacks.
The surprise of Michigan's season opener was the play of an offensive line that was replacing four starters. They dominated against Minnesota, paving the way to 256 yards on the ground while averaging 8.3 yards per carry. That evaporated against the Spartans, as the group failed to get any push between the tackles, and the Michigan State front four harassed Milton for much of the day. Might be obvious, but up front is where the battle will be won on Saturday between the Wolverines and Hoosiers. The Wolverines' 22nd-ranked rushing offense will be matched up against a defense that is allowing 185.5 rushing yards per game.
Despite giving up over 500 total yards in the opener, the Indiana defense is balling out right now under coordinator Kane Wommack. The Hoosiers are second in the conference in interceptions (5), third in fewest passing yards allowed per game (181.5), and tied for third in sacks (5).
When Indiana Has the Ball
Everything hasn't been perfect for the Hoosiers in spite of a 2-0 start, as their 279.0 total yards per game ranks ninth-worst in the FBS. Their biggest struggles have come on the ground — Indiana is averaging just 2.27 yards per carry through two games — and they are failing to generate any push up front, as they rank 100th in the country in line yards, according to Football Outsiders. The Wolverines have been stout against the run so far, allowing just 3.23 yards per carry, but could be without two of their starters in the front seven in linebacker Cameron McGrone and viper Michael Barrett, who sustained injuries against Michigan State.
Where the Hoosiers will assuredly attack the Wolverine defense on Saturday is through the air with their trio of pass catchers in receivers Whop Philyor and Ty Fryfogle and tight end Peyton Hendershot, who make up 68 percent of Indiana’s receiving production. Sophomore quarterback Michael Penix Jr. had a bounce-back performance against Rutgers last week with a combined four touchdowns and zero turnovers. This group is probably salivating watching film this week after seeing what a true freshman receiver did to Michigan’s No. 1 cornerback Vincent Gray last Saturday.
Is this the most important three-game stretch in program history for the Hoosiers? The 2-0 start is great, but Indiana has struggled typically against the upper-echelon teams of the Big Ten East. They passed one test already in defeating Penn State in the opener. Next on the docket, the usual suspects in contention in the division with Michigan, Michigan State, and Ohio State in the next three weeks. This is a Michigan team ripe for another upset after the disappointing performance a week ago and could be without some significant names on both sides of the ball due to injury. Indiana ends the suffering and finally defeats the Wolverines this Saturday.
Prediction: Indiana 27, Michigan 24
Podcast: Week 10 Preview and Predictions
— 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.