Best And Worst Case Scenarios For Michigan Against Indiana
Michigan has more talent than Indiana on paper but the Hoosiers are playing well right now and are at home. That makes this an extremely difficult game to forecast. The Wolverines are favored by a decent amount but this one definitely doesn't seem like a gimme like last week's game did. Michigan will be the popular pick but it's always tough to win on the road and Indiana is as good as they've been in a long time.
Senior quarterback Shea Patterson builds on his masterful performance against Michigan State and carves up the Hoosiers in similar fashion. He continues to take care of the ball and makes plays downfield and in the short screen game. He throws for more than 250 yards and finds a couple of receivers in the end zone.
Patterson is playing confidently and said that he feels completely healthy, which has allowed him to trust himself a bit more as a runner. He keeps the ball a few times, makes a few first downs and frustrates a pretty good Indiana defense.
Michigan's receivers are better than the defensive backs guarding them just about every week and it's true this weekend against an Indiana secondary that hasn't been great, but has been better as of late. Nico Collins and Donovan Peoples-Jones both have big days and Ronnie Bell finally finds the end zone.
The offensive line is playing its best football of the season and continues to improve week to week. They impose their will against the Hoosiers making for a calm day for Patterson and a productive day for the running backs. The Hoosier front seven, like the secondary, is also playing better as of late but some see the IU defense as fraudulent because of who they've played. They are exposed today when U-M's offense line controls them allowing the offense to move up and down the field.
The defensive line was dominant against good teams in Iowa, Penn State and Notre Dame and really made things tough for Maryland, and Michigan State as well. Indiana's offensive line is probably somewhere in the middle of that group, but it won't matter. Michigan's front seven is going to harass Peyton Ramsey all day long and bottle up Stevie Scott. Don Brown has called a few masterful games in a row now and he does it again today against the Hoosiers. Jim Harbaugh continues to point out the way Brown has prepared for the last few opponents and he'll be saying the same things later today when talking about the defensive performance against the Hoosiers.
Indiana has a dangerous pack of receivers but Michigan's secondary will be up to the task. Downfield, U-M's DBs keeps talented receivers in front of them and even picks off a pass or two. The pressure up front will help, but U-M's talented defensive backs are going to be in position and around the ball whenever it's in the air.
Michigan uses a conservative approach and runs the ball too much, which gives Indiana a chance to jump out with its explosive offense. Indiana's improving front seven gets to Patterson rattling him, which renders the passing game a little ineffective.
Because of that, Patterson reverts back to what we saw earlier this year and gets too scared in the pocket. He bails out when he doesn't need to, fails to keep his eyes downfield as he's moving around and abandons the zone read concepts as a runner.
With the threat of Patterson as an out-of-pocket thrower and runner neutralized, the Hoosiers sell out to stop the run and are able to keep Hassan Haskins and Zach Charbonnet bottled up. Because of that, U-M leans on the passing game but Patterson isn't able to find receivers or remain calm. The offense isn't on the field enough, drives stall and Michigan struggles to put points on the board.
We see something that looks like the defense's performance against Indiana last year, at least in terms of the crossing routes working. Michigan handled Indiana last season but there were glimpses of what might work against the Wolverines. Head coach Tom Allen and his staff remember that, build on it and put up more yards and points than last season.
With the passing game working, Ramsey hands to Scott at opportune times allowing the big back to get rolling. He's a load at 231 pounds and wears out Michigan's defense. With the game close, he runs hard down the stretch keeping U-M's offense off the field and finds the end zone a couple of times.
The successful rushing attack allows Ramsey to find some big plays downfield off of play action and Indiana's talented pass catchers make U-M's secondary pay.
How do you see the game playing out? Can Michigan actually blow out a scrappy Spartan team? Comment below!!!