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Previewin' Opponent No. 9: Indiana Hoosiers

Michigan returns to the Big House for a homecoming tilt against Indiana, in what appears to be that rare concept for the 2014 Wolverines: a winnable game.

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Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports

Who: 3-4 (0-3) Indiana Hoosiers

Time: 3:30 ET (BTN)

Date: Saturday, Nov. 1

Place: Michigan Stadium--Ann Arbor, Mich.

The Stage

"Any way the wind blows, doesn't really matter to meeeeeeeee"

Oh, right, I guess I should write something here and not just quote John Donne like I did last week. Well, a football game will be played in the Big House, I guess, between two bad football teams. I suppose there is some sort of vague possibility of Michigan making a bowl game, with Indiana, Northwestern and Maryland being the triumvirate of opponents leading up to The Game.

Of course, who cares about a bowl game? An extra game added to this season is just superfluous. It's kind of like when you say goodbye to an acquaintance on the street and go your separate ways, then realize you're walking the wrong way, so you turn around and then cross, at which point you're forced to awkwardly acknowledge that person again. You look, they look, head nods are exchanged as an unspoken "you went the wrong way didn't you, stupid," and you're thinking, "yes, I did okay, let's just not speak as we suffer this unnecessary reunion."

Before you know it you're in the Zaxby's Heart of Dallas Bowl, drowning your sorrows in chicken fingerz and crinkle fries, wondering where it all went wrong.

When Michigan has the ball

On the bright side, Indiana's defense is still not very good, so that's something, I suppose. Indiana comes in ranked 121st in defensive FEI, one spot behind Appalachian State. While this isn't last season, even the Wolverines were able to look like Baylor in winged helmets when the Hoosiers came to town.

Now, that's probably not going to happen again, for so many reasons: 1) general malaise 2) Michigan cannot block 3) their backs cannot manufacture extra yardage, beyond the extra occasional pile push yard or two DeVeon Smith sometimes gives 4) Michigan refuses to use Devin Gardner's legs, whether out of fear of injury or tactical insanity 5) Gardner will make at least a couple of plays that will make you scratch your head and wonder how it is possible for a quarterback can have once looked so great only to now look like, well, that (hint: the answer relates to coaching, or lack thereof, with a little bit of the "constantly getting obliterated because I have no offensive line" thing).

Sophomore linebacker T.J. Simmons leads the way for IU with 43 tackles; the 5-foot-9, 185-pound corner Tim Bennett comes in at No. 2 with 38. It's usually not a good thing when General Small Corner Guy is your second-leading tackler, but Bennett is a good player (according to his IU profile, he led the national in PBUs with 21 last year).

IU is tied for 68th nationally in sacks per game (along with conference mates Illinois, Purdue and Northwestern); defensive end Bobby Richardson is the one doing much of that for the Hoosiers. He leads the squad with 4.0 sacks, while junior linebacker Nick Mangieri and redshirt freshman NT Nate Hoff each have two apiece.

Indiana is now in the strange position of relying on its defense, what with a third-string quarterback now running the show. New defensive coordinator Brian Knorr, who came to Bloomington after three years at Wake Forest, brought a 3-4 defense with him. At the very least, it won't be the first time Michigan has seen the odd man front this season.

When the U-M defense is on the field

Oddly enough, this might be the better side of things for the Wolverines, a strange thought after last year's festival of offense. Forced to deploy freshman quarterback Zander Diamont, the Hoosier offense just isn't what it once was. After losing quarterbacks Nate Sudfeld and Chris Covington to injury, Diamont was the next man up, with the unenviable task of having to face Michigan State's defense.

While his final stats were abysmal (5-of-15, 11 yards passing), he did run one in from nine yards out, as Indiana scored 17 points in the first half, of course more than Michigan could muster in four quarters against the Spartans.

Then again, Gary Nova looked like Joe Montana against the Wolverines, so this Johnny Manziel name drop could end up proving depressingly true. Who knows!

Quarterback issues aside, this offense goes when tailback Tevin Coleman gets the ball. While Nebraska's Ameer Abdullah and Wisconsin's Melvin Gordon III get all the national recognition, Coleman is a very good player himself. He's racked up 1,192 yards on 135 carries, good for 8.8 YPC, and 11 touchdowns. The 6-foot-1 senior from Tinley Park, Ill., is big, fast and dynamic -- I'm not NFL scout, but he is an NFL back, in some capacity, as far as I'm concerned (which I know is probably not exactly going out on a limb here).

Even against MSU with the Hoosiers led by a third-string QB, Coleman ran for 132 yards, albeit with about half coming on one run of 65. Still, insert notbadface.jpg here.

Michigan's run defense was just about the only remaining point of pride for this Michigan team. Hey, you'll probably hit a big play on second or third and long, but only after the formality of a one-yard plunge into the teeth of Michigan's defense on first down. It's like the 2007 Rose Bowl over and over again, only with way less talent...way less.

So, after getting eviscerated by Minnesota and Michigan State, it's clear that the lofty run defense stats were mostly a schedule-derived sham. It's probably an okay run D, but certainly not elite, or even very good. If they at least want to prove that they're the seemingly decent group that mostly stuffed Utah and Notre Dame, then containing a top notch playmaker like Coleman would be a good way to do it.

Out wide, the diminutive Shane Wynn is back, wreaking havoc here and there, leading IU with 27 receptions for 424 yards and two touchdowns, plus a 75-yard touchdown run against Michigan State. He scored a pair of touchdowns during last season's contest, a 63-47 Michigan win that was the football equivalent of how you feel after your 8-year-old self ate all of your Halloween candy in a frighteningly short period of time.

Can Michigan tackle Wynn? If not, don't be surprised if he rattles off another long touchdown play or two this week. Bad teams allow 7-yard plays to become 20, 30, 40, and Michigan is a bad team

After that, the 6-foot-1 Nick Stoner comes in at No. 2 with 18 receptions for 177 yards, while Coleman is IU's third-leading receiver out of the backfield. J-Shun Harris II is the No. 3 receiver, but half of his production for the year came in one game, the 45-42 loss against Bowling Green on Sept. 13.

Iowa ranks 51st in sacks allowed, so not exactly as airtight as the Spartans' pass pro game, to say the least. Nonetheless, with a green quarterback in there, don't expect too many 5- and 7-step drops. When Diamont does pass, it'll be short, dinky stuff, as Coleman will do his best 2014 Matt Forte impression (i.e. catch a lot of passes out of the backfield).

The Outlook

Look, this doesn't really matter at all. I would like to see Michigan win, because that is a nice thing, but it just doesn't mean a thing. Those in charge will likely be gone very soon, even if Michigan miraculously wins out, beating Ohio State by 482 points (Actually, serious question: if Michigan did win out, with a hypothetical blowout of the Buckeyes, does that save Hoke's job? Phone lines are open, we'll take your calls at 1-800-WHY-DUDE).

Anyway, Indiana is a team with a bad defense and a once fearsome offense that is a shell of what it once was, forced to its third-string QB. Even so, that offense scored 17 on MSU in a half, while Michigan's offense did whatever it did.

Tevin Coleman is awesome, and will likely get his, but IU's defense is pretty bad, so bad that even Michigan should be able to do something, even if "something" is just arm punting to Devin Funchess. The Michigan defense's pass rush exists (albeit inflated by an outing against Penn State's porous offensive line), and existence is an improvement over previous seasons. The Wolverines will likely get to Diamont a few times, and you'd think he'll cough it up at least once.

With Purdue looking sort of competent of late and Illinois knocking off Minnesota, Michigan and Indiana stand 10 paces apart, tumbleweeds flying between them presaging the least dramatic duel of all time.

Indiana and Michigan turn around to walk, and then upon doing an about face to fire, Indiana realizes its gun is actually a banana, while Michigan's is a squirt gun that you can acquire at a Dollar General or something. It's close, but we'll go with squirt gun over potassium boomerang in this one, Cotton.

Michigan 28, Indiana 24.