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MnB staff roundtable avoids looking ahead

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The tune-up game is here.

NCAA Football: Penn State at Michigan Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Operation Don’t Get Anyone Injured or Suspended was a success in Piscataway, and Shea Patterson learned to throw darts in the wind, something the offense didn’t see the last two years. The defense gave up it’s longest play to-date, which prompted Don Brown to take Rutgers’ soul with his eyes. Karan Higdon hit that elusive 1,000-yard mark at last, and Jim Harbaugh appeared to not give a you-know-what about play selection against a team Michigan could’ve beaten with Michigan State’s starting roster. And so we arrive at Indiana, that don’t-look-ahead matchup that probably won’t be a good barometer on what Michigan will do against that school to the south. The Hoosiers have historically been very bad against Michigan, but they are still going to try to wreck the Revenge Tour on its way to Columbus.

Away we go…

Dan P: Indiana is a much more formidable opponent than Rutgers (which isn’t saying much) but still the Wolverines should have their way with them.

A cautious warning though is that Indiana has nearly played upset two times this season against Michigan State and Penn State. They also kept up with Ohio State for a half.

If Michigan comes out soft like they did early against Rutgers, they could find themselves playing catch up in this game. Indiana is also fighting for a bowl game which is even more of a reason for them to beat Michigan.

The Wolverines cannot underestimate the Hoosiers in this one, but at home, I expect Michigan to win this one fairly easily.

Andrew V: As an Indiana alum, I have plenty of experience with how games like this tend to go for IU. The Hoosiers like to make things interesting for about two and a half quarters before falling apart, but boy it’s an entertaining collapse. IU has taken Michigan to overtime two of the last three years, but is traditionally much better at home (where each of the overtime games took place). Michigan should take control of this one and cruise, but if there’s any team in the Big Ten that has a knack for making ranked teams sweat, it’s Indiana (even though it barely ever wins the contests). Stevie Scott is an electric running back coached by Michigan legend Mike Hart, but the U-M defense should be able to contain him. The biggest key to victory here is for Michigan not to turn the ball over. The Hoosiers have forced 24 turnovers this season, and three or more in three different games. Crazy things can happen when a game is filled with turnovers. I have no doubt that Indiana will put up an admirable fight in effort to clinch a bowl berth, but it will have to settle for beating Purdue next week to make that happen.

Kevin: I have been trying to come with some precedent for how some of the past games against Indiana have gone, and as Andrew points out, there have been two overtimes in Bloomington over the previous three matchups. It’s hard to find a trend or pattern in a series where Michigan is 45-5 all-time. It’s like one of those undercard events that is just there to sell some snacks and get people tuned in before the big show. I can’t name a single player on Indiana’s team, nor do I care to. That means I expect to not hear any Indiana players’ names in the stadium indicating that they did anything resembling a football play.

Anytime Michigan has had a good team, they thump Indiana.

Michigan is death incarnate currently.

Indiana will try to disrupt and buzz around Michigan to see if they can force some mistakes to stay in the game, but that hasn’t worked out too well for anyone so far. I did learn that Indiana leads the conference in takeaways, so they’ve got that going for them. Michigan doesn’t really turn the ball over, so maybe keep that going.

Last week was Operation Don’t Get Anyone Injured or Suspended. This week is Operation Win by 14 Points and Get Outta There.

Von: Look. Michigan fans have nothing to worry about. Indiana has been a middle-tier Big Ten team yet again, while Michigan is on top of the conference. As Sam Dodge wrote up this week in his game preview, some of these games between Indiana have been close over the last several years, but let’s check in on what these Wolverines have been up against:

2015: The legends of Nate Sudfeld, Jordan Howard and...Griffin Oakes? Yes, the Hoosiers had a good offense in 2015, and a beast of a kicker in Oakes. He nailed three field goals in the first half alone, including a 51-yarder. A punt return touchdown and another field goal later, and Michigan was in trouble. The Wolverines responded and won in double overtime.

2016: John O’Korn, inclimate weather and potentially looking ahead to the OSU game, and you get yourself a 20-10 victory, and it was much closer than that the entire game.

2017: Do we have to bring up anything from the 2017 team ever again? I say no.

What I am trying to say is this 2018 team is different. The defense is playing lights out; after giving up 21 points at home to Maryland, it gave up 21 points COMBINED to Wisconsin, Michigan State and Penn State during the “gauntlet” of the schedule. It also gave up just seven points on the road last week to Rutgers.

The defense is special, no denying it, and the offense is progressing week in and week out, and I fully expect more of the same from the Wolverines this week against Indiana. This shall be a great tune-up game before the regular season finale in Columbus one week from tomorrow.

Anthony: It is probably going to snow at some point on Saturday, which puts a little more emphasis on the run game, but I really struggle to find anywhere in this game that could give Michigan problems. No disrespect to Indiana, but I’ve been bored all week waiting for Saturday to be through. It’s like sitting through the previews for what is sure to be an epic experience (next week’s game in Columbus).

Indiana has a knack for making things interesting, but forgive me for not shaking in my boots over a Mike DeBord offense making its way to Ann Arbor to take on a Michigan defense that is full of sharks.

So let me take this opportunity to address some of the Chicken Littles of the fanbase out there, screaming “DON’T LOOK AHEAD” and telling people that have no role in Saturday’s game to take it one week at a time. That feels like such a loser mentality.

If you believe this team is special, you wake up Saturday, maybe clear some of the snow out of your driveway, knock some chores off the honey-do list, watch the Michigan game stress-free and wait for the bottom to fall out for the Hoosiers (because it will) and take your wife out to a nice, candlelit dinner. She deserves a night out to be romanced, because your ass is going to be insufferable and a nervous wreck for the next seven days.

Cackle with knowing glee if Michigan is telegraphing their plays and still averaging six yards.