When: 3:30 p.m. ET
Where: Memorial Stadium, Bloomington, IN
TV: ABC/ESPN2 (depending on market)
All-Time Series: Michigan leads 54-9
Last Meeting: Michigan 34-10, in 2014
Line: Michigan -11.5
Indiana has a lot of negative streaks it is trying to break this weekend in the final home game of the season for the Hoosiers. Five straight losses this season have jeopardized the chances for a bowl game, which still has not happened under Kevin Wilson and not for this program since 2007. Those are streaks that need to end for Indiana to make the next step, and Michigan provides a perfect opportunity to do so.
Another streak on the line is Michigan’s 19-game winning streak in this series. These are all things that would be a huge deal if Indiana can pull the upset, so let’s count to five to preview this game and see whether that can happen this weekend.
1 Burning Question: Can (essentially) no defense actually knock off the best defense in the country?
This is a game pairing the worst defense in the conference against the best, and the results so far speak for themselves. Michigan is a blown punt away from a 5-0 start in conference play, while Indiana is still seeking that first win in the Big Ten. But will the drastic contrast of styles lead to a different result when these teams meet in Bloomington?
The obvious initial answer would be no, but then again, there are some additional layers to consider. Indiana has the best running back-quarterback combination that Michigan has faced this season, and when Indiana was fully healthy, this team did perform in the clutch moments. This past weekend, the Hoosiers almost knocked off a better Iowa team now that this duo of Jordan Howard and Nate Sudfeld are healthy and back in the action.
So while Michigan will put up some points against the Indiana defense, this particular IU offense will also put up some points against the Michigan defense, in all likelihood. So perhaps the worst defense in the league can beat the best defense in the league.
2 Key Stats:
— 94.7% (Michigan) and 91.7% (Indiana). These are the red zone scoring percentages for both teams. The Wolverines and Hoosiers do have one thing in common and it is highly effective red zone offense. Michigan has 27 touchdowns in 38 opportunities down there, while Indiana has scored 23 touchdowns in 36 total red zone trips. That means when these teams threaten to score, more than likely the trip is paid off with a touchdown, and even if not, with some points. Neither of these teams has turned the ball over in the red zone and that makes a world of difference in close games.
— 240.0 (Michigan) and 504.0 (Indiana). These are the total defensive yards per game allowed by both teams. This is the contrast between the best team in the conference on defense and the worst, as alluded to above. The difference is astounding on paper, just thinking about the Hoosiers giving up well more than twice as many yards and over three times as many points as the Wolverines. If these numbers stay anywhere near averages, then IU has no chance to win. However, thankfully Indiana also has an offense that can keep up with the often-seen defensive lapses.
3 Key Players:
Jordan Howard, Indiana RB – Despite missing two games with injury and most of a third (that latter game counting against his per game averages), Howard still ranks just below Ezekiel Elliott as the most consistent and effective running back in the Big Ten. Howard rushes for 137.3 yards per game and he has seven touchdowns, which is actually a touch lower than you might expect for a keystone of such an effective offense. This is precisely the type of running threat Michigan’s defense must respect, otherwise he will gash the opponent for big plays to keep drives alive and keep the Hoosiers in this game.
Jabrill Peppers, Michigan All Around Threat – Peppers has seen more offensive snaps as the conference play has worn on, leading to a touchdown run a week ago. But his primary responsibilities have remained on special teams and especially as a safety on the Wolverines defense. It is this role where he will have to step up against the potent Indiana offense. If Indiana pushes the pace at all, Peppers may have to end up limiting his snaps to avoid being worn out at the most important time of the game. However, this is the most explosive and exciting player that Michigan will bring to Bloomington for Saturday’s showdown.
Marcus Oliver, Indiana LB – Following a season where Oliver had a medical redshirt thanks to an ACL tear in Week 3, the expectations were fairly low for what production he could provide. However, Oliver has been the best player on the Indiana defense, ranking 4th in the conference with 79 tackles already in 2015. More importantly, he has forced 4 fumbles as well, meaning ball carriers and receivers always have to be diligent about ball security around this linebacker. If Michigan is to have an effective day on offense, the Wolverines will have to scheme to keep Oliver from being a big disruptive force.
4 Bold Prognostications:
Indiana carries a lead into the fourth quarter – This is senior day for the Hoosiers, and the veterans on this team are determined to turn this losing streak around and prove that their coach has actually built a program with progress in five seasons. To do that, six wins is a must, and thus I expect the Hoosiers to start quickly against Michigan. Although the Wolverines will adjust to clamp down quickly on the IU offense, that will cause a lead that will take all game for Michigan to come back from. Thankfully that legendary IU fourth quarter lack of defense will be in play before the end of the game.
Jabrill Peppers approaches 90+ snaps – The talented freshman will likely see a ton of plays on defense, but with a larger load coming on offense, expect Peppers to see his largest use of the season by far. Indeed, if Michigan is desperate for a spark to keep up with the Hoosiers, Peppers may take a lot more offensive snaps than normal. When that happens, he will begin to approach the magic 100 snaps in a game statistic that only two-way ironman type players eventually reach.
Michigan gives up 150 rushing yards – Although I expect Nate Sudfeld to have a reasonably effective day, Michigan is holding opponents to a ridiculous 80.6 yards per game rushing. Jordan Howard will do some heavy lifting with at least 20 carries, and considering his average, plus the mix of other running threats, expect Indiana to double that average this game. That will also let Indiana avoid the trap of having Michigan dominate time of possession, which is what Jim Harbaugh wants to do in view of the potent offense and porous defense on the opposing sideline.
At least one of the teams turns the ball over in the red zone – When you point out a statistic like we did above that these two teams are the most effective red zone scoring teams, thanks to a lack of turnovers, that’s usually when the jinx is in. So as a final bold prediction, I will call for one of those turnovers to bring down the percentages for one or both of the Wolverines and Hoosiers this weekend.
5 Staff Predictions:
Andy: Michigan 31-28 (73-19 overall; 41-50 ATS)
Dave: Michigan 31-21 (75-17 overall; 48-42 ATS)
Greg: Michigan 44-35 (68-26 overall; 50-40 ATS)
Matt: Indiana 38-35 (73-19 overall; 53-37 ATS)
Phil: Michigan 38-26 (27-12 overall; 14-22 ATS) *joined in Week 5
Top 25 Players in the Big Ten for 2017: No’s. 10-6
We are almost done with our 2017 preseason Top 25 players list. Who made it inside the top 10, but just out of the running as the best player in the conference heading in to the season?
It is almost time for pads to start popping and helmets to start cracking together…and that means football season is right around the corner. Here at talking10 it also means the release of our annual Big Ten Preseason Top 25 Players list.
We’re 10 players deep, with 15 to go on the countdown. Let’s just hop right back in to the Top 25 players list as the season grows closer and closer.
No. 10. — Akrum Wadley, RB (Iowa)
2016 Season Stats: 1,081 yards, 10 TD’s, 6.4 ypc; 36 receptions, 315 yards, 3 TD’s
Best Game: 23 carries, 115 yards; 5 receptions, 52 yards, 1 TD
Patience has certainly paid off for the now-senior running back for the Hawkeyes. Wadley showed flashes of brilliance early in his career, but he had to share the spotlight with others. That included fellow 1,000-yard back LeShaun Daniels last season.
Wadley comes in to 2017 as the lone featured back for the first time in his career and it could be a very interesting season ahead. He also come back as one of just three returning running backs to crack double digits in rushing touchdowns last season. If Iowa is going to weather the changes at quarterback in 2017, it will do so on the back and legs of Wadley. If history tells us anything, he’s likely up to the challenge.
No. 9. — Clayton Thorson, QB (Northwestern)
2016 Season Stats: 3,128 yards, 58.6 comp. %, 22 TD’s, 9 INT’s
Best Game: at MSU – 27-35 passing, 281 yards, 3 TD’s, 1 INT
Few quarterbacks came in to 2016 as a bigger question mark than Clayton Thorson did entering his sophomore season. After becoming one of just four quarterbacks to top 3,000 yards passing in 2016, the questions have turned in to just how good can Thorson really be. Well, considering he went from mistake-prone and INT-prone to one of the coolest passers in the league, it is safe to say he is high up on our list heading in to 2017.
This season, it may be a case of Thorson also needed to add a bit more to the ground game. He picked up just 98 yards on 97 carries last season. That was following a promising start to his career with his feet. Northwestern doesn’t need him to be J.T. Barrett on the ground, but expanding that part of his game to go with the established passing attack could give Pat Fitzgerald and the Wildcats plenty of ammo on offense.
No. 8 — Rashan Gary, DE (Michigan)
2016 Season Stats: 24 tackles, 5.0 tackles for loss, 1 sack, 6 QB hurries
Best Game: vs. UCF – 6 tackles, 2.0 tackles for loss, 1 sack
Michigan snapped up the No. 1 player in the 2016 recruiting rankings, so expectations were high for Gary. He rose to the occasion and got himself in to the mix on a loaded and deep Wolverines defensive line. He showed power off the edge and a capability to be very disruptive at the line of scrimmage. Gary’s game is far from perfect, but if he works at the rate he did in 2016, look for him to be one of the best pass rushers in the Big Ten when 2017 is all said and done.
His length, athleticism and strength at his age are just incredible. Will he be able to live up to the hype and the increased attention on and off the field in 2017? That’s his real challenge.
No. 7. — J.T. Barrett, QB (Ohio State)
2016 Season Stats: 61.5 comp. %, 2,555 yards, 24 TD’s, 7 INT’s; 845 yards, 9 TD’s rushing
Best Game: vs. Nebraska – 65.1 comp. %, 290 yards, 4TD’s passing; 39 yards rushing
It is hard to believe that one…J.T. Barrett is still in college football, and two…that is hasn’t won a Heisman Trophy yet. We’re pretty sure if you asked 2014 versions of ourselves if that was possible we would’ve told you you were nuts. But, we are blessed with one final season from Barrett in the OSU colors.
Some of those same 2014 folks would be surprised to see him this low on the list. There’s no doubt that the talent is there, but his passing numbers have steadily declined and somehow Barrett has actually become a less accurate passer over time. Still, he’s arguably the most dangerous dual-threat quarterback in the league and one of the best on-field leaders as well. His intangibles and ability to literally will a team to victory can’t be overlooked and that’s why he’s in our top 10.
No. 6. — Tegray Scales, LB (Indiana)
2016 Season Stats: 126 tackles, 23.5 tackles for loss, 7.0 sacks, 1 INT, 1 TD, 1 FF, 2 PBU, 4 QB Hurries
Best Game: vs. Penn State – 9 tackles, 4.0 tackles for loss, 1 sack
No player benefited more from a coaching change in 2016 than Indiana linebacker Tegray Scales did. Tom Allen’s unique 4-2-5 system actually made Scales the focal point of the defense and he delivered in a big way. The stats are certainly impressive, but it is the how it all happened that makes him one of the most intriguing players to watch this upcoming season.
Don’t be surprised to see his name mentioned with some of the best in the country at linebacker. He simply makes plays and does it wherever and however asked to by the coaching staff. A sign of his quality? Two his best games came in losses to Penn State and Northwestern, where Scales did everything he could to will his team to victory but just couldn’t get the offensive help needed. He’ll have more parts around him this season and that should make things really fun to watch.
Every Big Ten East Division team’s biggest question after spring football
Spring Football has come to an end, and the East division has stolen all the attention, but did all the questions get answered?
Michigan’s trip to Rome is in the books, which means the Big Ten has finally and officially wrapped up spring football. Hooray!
But, along with the official end of spring football comes a lot of reflection. Programs will turn to meetings to discuss players, positions and coaching ideas going forward, while the fans will look forward to what the fall may hold for their team.
For us here at talking10, it is time to reflect and ask the tough questions after 15 practices and nationally televised spring football games (if you want to call them that). So, what are the big questions being asked across the Big Ten?
Last week we took a look at what is being asked around the Big Ten’s West division. This week it is the Big Ten East division’s turn on the hot seat. Can the division that has won the conference crown every year since the new divisions went directional and not ‘Leaders’ and ‘Legends’ on us maintain its hold on the B1G title?
Let’s look across the B1G East division, shall we?
Indiana Hoosiers at Michigan Wolverines: Preview, Predictions and Prognostications
When: Saturday, Nov. 19; 3:30p.m. ET
Where: Ann Arbor, Mich.; Michigan Stadium (107,601)
All-Time Series: Michigan leads 55-9
Last Meeting: Michigan Win, 48-41 (2015)
Line: Michigan (-23)
Michigan was on top of the college football world..well, at least the one where you exclude reigning national champion Alabama. But, that all changed with Michigan’s first big road test of the season.
Iowa kicked a last-second field goal and took down Jim Harbaugh’s crew 14-13. Now the task becomes to not let the season completely derail. After all, the College Football Playoff committee decided that Michigan was the best of the crazy five top 10 teams that lost last week.
This week comes a tricky contest with the team we like to describe as #TEAMChaos. Don’t worry though, Michigan will not be taking this game lightly after it got all it could handle in a two-overtime win last season in Ann Arbor.
Can the Wolverines remember that loss and not get caught looking forward? It has to against what is a vastly improved Indiana defense and its own question marks at key positions on offense. Let’s just say this game has the potential to be season-defining for either team.
1 Burning Question: Can Michigan Avoid the Fall?
While winning all the time is great, and it usually gets you to the top of the college football mountain when your name is Michigan, this is just year two of the turnaround for
Knowing that, a loss can also sometimes have just as great an effect on a team and a program as going undefeated for a season. This is a program full of veteran players, many of whom have been around for plenty of losing during their careers in Ann Arbor.
Harbaugh’s job will be to re-focus this team on the task right in front of them, and there are few head coaches better at finding new ways to get the attention of their teams. If Harbaugh can’t re-focus this team, Indiana is perfectly capable of keeping this game close and pulling off an upset.
If that happens, a once promising season on the national stage is over. Given all that has happened in college football this season, we’re guessing that getting this team to come out and do what is needed to win shouldn’t be a problem. Even if Wilton Speight isn’t playing quarterback this weekend.
2 Key Stats:
— 20: That is the number of games Michigan has won in a row in this streak. Yes, you have to go all the way back to 1987 to find the last time Indiana actually beat the Wolverines. Michigan has lost just nine times overall to the Hoosiers, but seven of those nine losses have actually come at Michigan Stadium, the site of Saturday’s contest. We’re not saying it’ll happen…we’re just saying (no we’re not).
— 117.5: That is the average yards per game improvement for Indiana’s defense from last season to this. Before you think Michigan is just going to work over the Hoosiers defense, remember that this group is more than capable of making stops when needed. The major issue this season has been getting the offense and defense to play off of each other. It seems as if when the defense does something good, the offense can’t capitalize and vice versa.
3 Key Players:
John O’Korn, Michigan QB: While Harbaugh may like to play mind games (you know, like not releasing an official depth chart ever this season), we aren’t going to be fooled in to thinking that Wilton Speight is going to be 100 percent healthy for this game. That means junior transfer John O’Korn is going to get his first start in the Maize ‘N Blue. It also means all eyes are going to be on him, especially when/if a mistake happens in this game. Given the improved run game this season, O’Korn may be more of a game manager than a game-winner if you will. Still, he needs to perform well when called upon or this could be an interesting game.
Tegray Scales, Indiana LB: This is a player I’ve long been a fan of, and in new defensive coordinator Tom Allen’s 4-2-5 scheme he has shined in a big way. He has six double-figure tackle games so far this season, a mark that has him tied at the top of the Big Ten and in a tie for eighth nationally. Simply put, Indiana is going to need to hear his name called early and often if it wants to make a bowl game a no-doubt situation in a rare upset of the Wolverines.
Rashad Fant, Indiana CB: While everyone is gushing over the likes of Jourdain Lewis of Michigan and Desmond King of Iowa, Fant is quietly putting together one of the most productive seasons for any cornerback in the Big Ten. Fant’s 18 passes defended and 16 pass breakups are 1st in the nation, let alone the B1G. He is also tied for 1st in the NCAA among active players with 46 career passes defended. He’ll have his hands full with quality receivers like Amara Darboh and Jehu Chesson, and those matchups coupled with a likely new starting QB in O’Korn add up to this being a tell-tale matchup on the outside.
4 Staff Predictions:
Andy: Michigan 28-17
Dave: Michigan 38-10
Phil H.: Michigan 33-20
Philip R-R.: Michigan 41-24
Zach: Michigan 45-13