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What To Watch For: Michigan vs. Indiana

Michigan must defeat Indiana before worrying about Ohio State.

NCAA Football: Maryland at Indiana Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports

The college football season is flying by. The No. 4 Michigan Wolverines have just two regular season games remaining, at home versus Indiana this Saturday and a trip to Ohio State next weekend. It’s understandable for fans to want to look ahead, but Indiana has shown it can cause trouble in recent years. Here’s what you need to watch for in game No. 11.

Contain Stevie Scott

Indiana freshman running back Stevie Scott has been one of the more impressive freshmen in the entire country. He’s carried the ball 178 times for 894 yards and eight touchdowns, and has totaled 337 yards over his last three games against Penn State, Minnesota and Maryland. His 894 yards puts him No. 35 nationally.

Former Michigan offensive coordinator Mike DeBord is running the IU offense, while former U-M great Mike Hart coaches the running backs. The unit has been a roller coaster this season, but the Hoosiers will hit Michigan with a flurry of short passes and runs behind a good offensive line.

If the Wolverines can limit Scott, it will force quarterback Peyton Ramsey to beat them through the air, which is a task not likely to happen. Ramsey is a solid quarterback, but he’s more of a game manager. He will make the occasional mistake (he’s thrown 11 interceptions this year) and can make some plays with his legs, but his talent is limited.

Keep The Streak Alive

Michigan has beaten Indiana 22 consecutive times. Everything points to that number reaching 23 this weekend, but U-M can’t overlook IU like it might’ve been able to do with Rutgers.

The Hoosiers have taken Michigan to overtime two of the last three years and have kept six of the last seven meetings extremely competitive. Ask any IU football fan and they’ll tell you the Hoosiers are the kings of making every game interesting, no matter the result. They play up and down with the competition and have talent scattered around the field.

Michigan should handle its business, it is far superior in talent and has played very well at home in 2018, but you know what they say about assuming things.

Protect The Football

The key to beating less talented teams is often simple — don’t turn the ball over. Indiana, however, is one of the better teams in the nation at forcing turnovers, creating 24 of them this season. For comparison, Michigan has 14 takeaways this season.

U-M has only turned it over seven times this year, which should make this an interesting category to pay attention to. If Indiana is forced to drive down the field against Michigan’s defense for all its points, that certainly bodes well for U-M. Giving the Hoosiers short fields or defensive scores, however, will make this game a close one.

Michigan quarterback Shea Patterson has only thrown three interceptions this season and the team as a whole has just four fumbles, so don’t expect Michigan’s offense to suddenly fall apart.