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Michigan’s keys to victory vs Indiana

Michigan should win, but there are plenty of things to keep an eye on in this one

NCAA Football: Michigan at Indiana Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Michigan vs Indiana.

We keep hearing that this is going to be trap game for the Wolverines.

That just isn’t true.

Michigan realizes IU plays ‘em tough, therefore they won’t be taking them lightly.

Although U-M plays Ohio State next week, they aren’t overlooking the task at hand.

Michigan should win today. But the Hoosiers are a worthy foe, one I respect.

Michigan’s keys to victory vs Indiana

Flex muscles from the start

The Hoosiers are 5-5 and are fighting for a bowl berth. They need to win one of their next two games to be bowl bound. Michigan has a lot on the line, too (more), but a 6-6 season for IU and earning a bowl bid would be a successful season. IU will be motivated. The best way to crush their hopes is to physically dominate them right away. Michigan may not always get off to “fast starts” when we glance at the scoreboard, but those “body punches”, As Pep Hamilton would say, add up and become overwhelming as the game wears on. It’s going to be the coldest game of the year for Michigan to this point, each hit, each battle in the trenches is going to be more painful than usual for the team/player that fails to do their job on a given play.

Don’t get fooled on D

Michigan has been the best defense in the nation this season.

With that said, they’re pissed they didn’t record a shutout the past two weeks, giving up two touchdowns; one to Penn State, one to Rutgers.

Last week, Michigan gave up a long end around touchdown run where aggressiveness led to the D over-committing to one side of the field.

Defensive coordinator Don Brown, like the wizard he is, made the proper adjustments and the rest was history, Rutgers didn’t score again.

Michigan is hard on themselves for plays such as that against Rutgers because:

  1. It ended the shutout bid
  2. Mistakes such as those could hurt them way more against a team like Ohio State

Perfection can never be reached, but this unit is reaching for it, that’s what they’re trying to attain, and no matter how good they play or will play, they know they can find something to improve upon.

Smother a good QB/RB duo

IU quarterback Peyton Ramsey is having a solid season throwing the football, completing 67% of his passes for 2,335 yards along with 17 TD’s and 11 INT’s. Ramsey is yet another QB that Michigan will face whom has stellar running abilities, amassing 266 yards this season.

Hoosier running back Stevie Scott is up to 894 yards and eight touchdowns on the year.

The duo provide a good test for Michigan, both can get things done and have been trouble for opposing teams.

Ramsey’s best game of the year was against Ohio State, where he passed for 322 yards and 3 TD’s.

Scott recently rushed for 138 yards and 2 scores vs Penn State in October.

Now, Michigan’s defense is much better than PSU’s and OSU’s, but Ramsey and Scott have talent that should be taken note of. If Michigan is able to stop Scott on the ground, it’ll start to be a rough go of it for Ramsey, as he’ll be forced to throw check-down passes and in all likelihood, take some sacks.

Brian Lewerke, Trace McSorley, Alex Hornibrook received all the praise heading into the 2018 season, but Ramsey is flying under the radar and I find him to be underrated. Ramsey could improve his TD:INT ratio, but he has enough talent to pull off an upset on Any Given Saturday if he gets some help from his teammates.

Embrace the conditions

Some people love the winter. I hate it. But the bottom line is, whether you love or hate frigid temperatures, you have to roll with the cold if you’re a football player. Keep a close eye on how specific players perform today in the cold.

Don’t take too much stock in the results, but I’m always interested in seeing how the QB throws the ball, if a receiver is as fast as usual and catching the football consistently. There’s a lot to digest during any football game, but there are some areas of evaluation that are only there to be had when it’s cold, windy, or rainy.

The temps look like they may be anywhere from the mid 30’s to the mid 20’s throughout the game. Plenty cold enough if you ask me.

Chew the clock, win, go home healthy

Time of possession is always a crucial statistic when you look at wins and losses, but today time of possession is important for a different reason.

The less plays for Michigan on both sides of the football, the better.

They’re going to have an incredibly physical and challenging game next week and the best thing that could happen against the Hoosiers is to run the ball with authority, kill a ton of time off the clock, and get the hell out of The Big House healthy and with gas still left in the tank.

This is not a week where the team wants to be gassed by its conclusion. This is the kind of game where you let Karan Higdon do his thing, take the clock down below ten seconds as much as you can. The less plays ran, the more Michigan controls the clock, the more likely it is that players are healthy and ready to roll vs the Buckeyes.

Harbaugh will still let Shea Patterson let it rip though.

Final Thoughts/What To Expect

  • This is a tune-up game for Michigan, a game to work out any perceived kinks on offense and defense.
  • Don’t expect any read-option runs today, Michigan doesn’t need to put Shea Patterson in any situation where he could get banged up. Don’t even expect Patterson to scramble unless it’s clear he’ll be able to slide safely.
  • Expect a dominating effort from Michigan’s defense. The film they produce during the game will be viewed by Ohio State coaches and players, and you betcha they'll be trying to make one last final statement before the tilt in Columbus.
  • Expect players like Winovich to have a big day. Any player that will be playing in his last game at The Big House will have a lot of emotions flowing today, Winovich included. They aren’t just trying to win their last game at Michigan Stadium, they’re going to want to do something special.
  • This Michigan team is too focused to lose to an inferior team.