Big Ten rivals will clash on Saturday in Ann Arbor as Michigan (5-1, 1-1 Big Ten) hosts Indiana (3-3, 1-1 Big Ten) in a Legends-Leaders college football showdown.
Both programs are coming off Week 7 defeats. Michigan's four-overtime thriller with Penn State was one of the best games of the year to date, but the Wolverines missed several opportunities to close out the Nittany Lions and wound up on the wrong side of the 43-40 final.
The Hoosiers have been an up-and-down team this season, as their win-one, lose-one method rang true again last Saturday. After blowing out Penn State by 20 points two weeks ago, Michigan State handed Indiana its third loss of the season to drop head coach Kevin Wilson's squad to .500 on the season.
Who wins this matchup?
Neither Michigan nor Indiana is ranked coming into their contest, but only two teams in the conference are currently ranked—No. 4 Ohio State and No. 25 Wisconsin. This will be a proving ground for both teams, with Michigan trying to crawl back into the AP Top 25 and Indiana looking for a season-shifting win.
We preview this Big Ten battle below.
When: Saturday, Oct. 19, at 3:30 p.m. ET
Where: Michigan Stadium, Ann Arbor, Mich.
Watch: Big Ten Network
Live Stream: BTN2Go
Betting Line: Michigan -7.5 (via Vegas Insider)
Indiana Injuries (via USA Today)
Out: G David Kaminski (knee), T Peyton Eckert (back),
Questionable: G Jake Reed (ankle), T Ralston Evans (ankle)
Michigan Injuries (via USA Today)
Out: RB Drake Johnson (knee), QB Russell Belomy (knee), Ondre Pipkins (knee)
Questionable: DE Tom Strobel (undisclosed), FB Wyatt Shallman (undisclosed)
Probable: T Taylor Lewan (head)
Wolverines Looking for Bounce-Back Win
It's probably been a rough week on campus for Michigan kicker Brendan Gibbons.
He missed three field goals in Michigan's loss to Penn State by three points last week in a game that Brady Hoke and Co. will likely look back at with deep disdain if they are able to run the table the rest of the way.
But Michigan has no time to reflect on the past if it is going to finish first in the Legends Division and participate in the conference championship game later this year. Michigan State and Nebraska are both undefeated in Big Ten play, where the Wolverines are tied with Iowa at 1-1.
Michigan can't afford to overlook Indiana by any stretch—just ask Penn State. Although the Hoosiers have been inconsistent, their two-quarterback system has had its moments and Tevin Coleman is a hard guy to bring down out of the backfield.
Using the rage of their loss to the Nittany Lions and the motivation for a Big Ten championship, expect the Wolverines to try and assert their will early on and take out some frustration in the process. Michigan can't afford a 1-2 start in conference play.
Michigan 47, Indiana 37
In 61 career meetings between the two schools, Michigan has lost to Indiana only nine times.
That lopsided figure doesn't mean anything in 2013, but it is a good indicator of the kind of dominance that Michigan fans expect when they see Indiana on the schedule. This year is no different, but Indiana does have a high-powered offense and years of futility as motivation to pull off the road upset.
Indiana averages over 500 yards of total offense and 41.7 points per game, marks that have the Hoosiers in the upper echelon of NCAA programs. By comparison, Michigan averages 39.0 points, but a shade under 400 yards per game, leaving a wide gap in that regard between the two rivals.
However, if Michigan learns how to take care of the ball, its offense is going to be extremely dangerous. In the loss to Penn State, Big Blue turned the ball over three times, leaving quarterback Devin Gardner in the cross hairs of that inefficiency.
Which is more likely to happen?
Luckily for Michigan, Indiana hasn't been a defensive juggernaut this year. The Hoosiers have allowed an average of more than 32 points per game, as four of their first six opponents have scored at least 35 points. Only Penn State (24) and Bowling Green (10) were held in check by Indiana's defense.
In what should be a high-scoring, high-octane affair for both sides, I like the home-field advantage of Ann Arbor and Michigan's need for a big win to overcome Indiana's offensive prowess and trend of being 2-0 after losses this season.
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