Teams: No. 19 Michigan Wolverines 4-0 (0-0) vs. Indiana Hoosiers 3-0 (0-0)
Place: Memorial Stadium (The Rock), Bloomington, Indiana
Time: 3:30 P.M. Eastern
The Line: Michigan -10.5
It is that time of year again. The Big Ten football season gets started this Saturday and Michigan will open up their Big Ten schedule against Indiana for the second consecutive year. This year the Wolverines travel to Bloomington in what may be a high-scoring game.
Last year Michigan went 1-7 in Big Ten play. The lone win was against...Indiana. Michigan will be looking to make strides to improve in the Big Ten this season, so will they get started out on the right foot against Indiana?
Michigan Rush Defense vs. Indiana Rush Offense
You remember last year right? Yeah, that wasn't too fun. Watching Indiana running backs take it outside and pick up huge chunks of yardage because the Michigan defense seemingly forgot what outside contain meant.
Well, don't worry too much, that should be better this year. For starters, Indiana has not run the ball well this year at all. The Hoosiers have only managed 113 yards per game this year on the ground. That is good for 96th nationally.
Darius Willis is a decent back, so what's the problem?
Well, the offensive line is bad. For a Big Ten offensive line Indiana is very small. Not only are they small, they aren't really even very quick or athletic. When you dig deeper you notice this offensive line has struggled to push around defenses on football teams people don't even know exist. That's right, Indiana has failed to establish an effective run game against Towson, Western Kentucky, and Akron.
I don't see them getting any better now. Ryan Van Bergen, Mike Martin, and Greg Roh should have a field day in this one.
Michigan Pass Defense vs. Indiana Pass Offense
OK, here is where it gets a little tricky. Indiana can actually toss the football around a bit. Quarterback Ben Chappell has led the Hoosiers to some pretty nice early season numbers.
Indiana is averaging 304.33 yards per game through the air so far this year, which is good for 11th nationally. Chappell has completed 72.4 percent of his passes so far for nine touchdowns and no interceptions. That is pretty impressive.
Should we take that with a grain of salt considering who they have played? Yeah, probably.
However Chappell is still pretty good. He is accurate and very good at reading the defense and making good choices. However, the offensive line isn't very good. If Michigan has any hope of stopping the Hoosier aerial attack they will have to put pressure on the quarterback.
Expect Mouton to get a lot of chances to blitz. Michigan will also hope Martin and the rest of the defensive line can put pressure on Chappell to force some mistakes.
Michigan Rush Offense vs. Indiana Rush Defense
This is where it should get fun for Michigan. We all know what Michigan features on the ground.
It starts up front with an offensive line that has been playing great football so far this year. With the way the offensive line has been playing, Michigan doesn't even need a star in the backfield to gain yards, but they have one anyway.
Denard Robinson has been the biggest star in college football early this season and it is easy to see why. Robinson leads the Big Ten in rushing, despite only playing half a quarter last week against Bowling Green. Robinson is leading a rush offense that averages 331.25 yards per game. That is good for the second best rushing offense in the country.
On the other side of the ball Indiana is 96th nationally in rush defense. Yes, 96th in the country, against the largest of all cupcake schedules in the Big Ten.
Michigan Pass Offense vs. Indiana Pass Defense
If you take a quick look at the numbers you might not be impressed with the Michigan passing attack. After all Michigan has averaged 231.50 yards per game through the air, which is only good for 50th in the country.
However a deeper look shows that Michigan is 11th nationally in pass efficiency. Michigan completes a high percentage of its passes because teams are so caught up trying to stop the Michigan running attack.
Just face it though, Michigan hasn't needed to throw the ball that often, but when they do it's effective.
Indiana features a defensive backfield that is pretty slow and frequently out of position. Look for more of the same as Indiana brings players up to stop the run, only to get burned through the air.
By default this area of the game goes to the Hoosiers. Michigan has been reduced to going for it on fourth down because well, a field goal just isn't an option anymore. Replacing Zoltan Mesko at punter has been a problem too.
Don't even get me started on the problems Michigan has had fielding punts. Michigan actually pulled out a new punt return formation against Bowling Green, which was better but still.
Out: LB Mike Jones (leg), RB Michael Shaw (knee), RB Fitzgerald Toussaint (shoulder), S Jared Van Slyke (clavicle), S Mike Williams (concussion), CB Troy Woolfolk (ankle)
Questionable: John Ferrara (hand)
Probable: LB Brandon Herron (ankle), LB/S Carvin Johnson (knee), QB Denard Robinson (knee)
Out: S Chris Adkins (ankle), K Nick Freeland (hip)
Probable: S Donnell Jones (knee)
High of 65 degrees with a 30-percent chance of rain. Winds 13 MPH.
I expect this game will be pretty high-scoring. Both teams feature high powered offenses and below average defenses. I think the key to this game will be whether or not Michigan can get pressure on Ben Chappell. If they do, Michigan can get a couple of key stops.
Michigan 42, Indiana 27