We are just one day away from Michigan’s second straight road contest, this one in Bloomington against the Indiana Hoosiers.
Indiana is a team Michigan has dominated in recent years, but the Hoosiers always play the Wolverines as hard as they can. Is this a trap game with Penn State on the horizon? The Maize n Brew staff answers that question and more in this week’s roundtable.
Last week, Michigan was able to pass its first road test of the season at Iowa, a place the Wolverines have not won since 2005. The game was a rock fight, but Michigan owned the time of possession battle thanks to the reliable efforts of Blake Corum. How impressed were you by the win, and how the Wolverines were able to beat Iowa at its own game?
Von Lozon: I was impressed with the first three quarters of play, that’s for sure. There was a lot left to be desired during the last 15 minutes of the game, but Michigan went up 20-0 on one of the best defenses in the country at their own place with relative ease, and there could have been more points put up had drives ended differently. That’s tough to do no matter what team you are. So yeah, consider me impressed with how that one went down.
Andrew Bailey: VERY impressed. Road performances like that are what separate the good from great teams, and winning at Kinnick any year is a commendable feat.
Scotty White: I feel pretty good after the win against Iowa. There’s certainly some things to improve on, though. I want to see J.J. consistently hit the deep ball. He missed a few against Maryland and one against Iowa to Roman Wilson. Those kinds of plays are the ones championship teams make. The defense also needs to get more pressure on the quarterback. The defense stepped up when they needed to against Iowa, but that Hawkeye offense should not score two touchdowns in one quarter against anybody.
Zach Breininger: I was very impressed with the win. Michigan seemed to turn over a new leaf on the road last year and continues to focus on “stealing the juice” of its opponents. Blake Corum and the offensive line made it possible to beat Iowa at its own game. Monopolizing the clock made it next to impossible for the moribund Iowa offense to even think about mounting a comeback in the second half.
Trevor Woods: It was a solid win on the road against a good defense — no more and no less. I was impressed by the offensive line play the most.
David Woelkers: In classic Michigan football style, I was impressed, then I was pensive, and finally I ended up being conflicted by the whole thing. There were certainly good things from the game — Corum’s performance, the return of Donovan Edwards, the pass rush’s late game heroics — but there are weak spots that I wonder about when the Wolverines face an offense with a pulse. There’s certainly more good than bad, but they’ve got a lot of work still to do.
Michigan is back on the road this weekend, as it heads to Bloomington to take on Indiana. Do you think this could be a potential trap game with Penn State and the Maize Out looming next weekend?
Von Lozon: If there’s one thing I know about Indiana as a Michigan fan, it’s that you should never take the Hoosiers lightly. They are always one to provide a fight to Michigan, especially at their place. Indiana has struggled the last couple weeks with Cincinnati and Nebraska, but the Wolverines shouldn’t underestimate this week’s opponent just because of what they have in front of them the following week. I think Jim Harbaugh’s team will worry about Penn State next week and completely have the focus set on Indiana.
Andrew Bailey: If it were at home, I would say yes, but going on the road against a team that has played Harbaugh teams tough for the most part will keep the team and coaches locked in on the task at hand. The best part about the Iowa performance was that it was far from flawless, so this team has no reason to “buy their own stuff” yet.
Scotty White: I don’t think so. Michigan needs to stay focused and try not to look ahead, but Indiana is not a very good team. Even if the Wolverines sleep walk a bit, I like them by 17+.
Zach Breininger: It could, and I think some of the struggles we saw in the game against Maryland are an example of that phenomenon. However, Michigan lost the last matchup in Bloomington — the first time it lost to Indiana in several dozen tilts. There might be a slight revenge factor for Harbaugh and company for this one.
Trevor Woods: No. They will come to Bloomington prepared.
David Woelkers: Probably not. That’s not to say it’ll be a blowout, given Indiana harnesses the power of pure chaos every time they play Michigan, but ultimately the Wolverines will win with a score that’s a little too close for comfort, but not close enough for serious concern.
Indiana has had trouble defending the pass all season long, ranking No. 118 out of 131 teams in passing yards per game (277.8). Do you think Michigan should let J.J. McCarthy sling it around a bit more this Saturday than week’s prior, or keep a balanced offensive approach with Corum and the run game?
Von Lozon: I wouldn’t mind McCarthy throwing it around a little bit more this weekend. It’s another opportunity for the sophomore to gain experience on the road. Given Indiana’s issues defending the pass, I would draw up a few more pass plays than last week.
Andrew Bailey: Balanced. While Indiana’s pass defense is porous, their pass rush ranks in the top three in the Big Ten in sacks and tackles for loss. With a steady run game, it will keep them honest and then allow McCarthy to work surgically and continue to work on a consistent deep ball.
Scotty White: I think Michigan should go with more of a passing attack because that’s Penn State’s defensive weakness as well. The Wolverines will need to throw to beat the Nittany Lions, so against Indiana is a good time to start that.
Zach Breininger: Michigan should take advantage of every opportunity to get experience under J.J.’s belt— especially against manageable competition. Furthermore, keeping Corum and Edwards fresh for games later in the season where the weather (cough, cough, snow) might be a bigger factor.
Trevor Woods: They’ll sling it more this week. Always wise to attack the weakness of an opponent.
David Woelkers: They’ve gotta let him sling it sometime, right? Might as well do it now. Whatever they do though, I beg them to not force feed Corum 30 carries again. 90 carries in three games would be the exact opposite of balanced approach.
Give me one bold prediction for Michigan vs. Indiana.
Von Lozon: J.J. throws for 300+ yards for the first time in his collegiate career. This may not seem like a HUGE bold prediction but with the way Michigan has ran the ball and eased McCarthy into his role as the starting quarterback, I think this is the game for him to let it rip a little more. Ronnie Bell and Andrel Anthony (finally) will also put up nice stat lines.
Andrew Bailey: Donovan Edwards is the leading rusher.
Scotty White: J.J. throws for over 350 yards.
Zach Breininger: J.J. throws for three touchdowns in the first half.
David Woelkers: The over on this game is a mortal lock.
Final score and why?
Von Lozon: Michigan 45, Indiana 14. The Hoosiers will play tough during the first few drives, but the Wolverines will march down the field and put up points fast. This will, of course, set up a Big Ten showdown the following week at the Big House against Penn State, yet another Big Noon Kickoff on FOX.
Andrew Bailey: 41-17, Michigan. Indiana’s strengths play into Michigan’s strengths, except the Wolverines are stronger & deeper. It’ll be contested early, but by the middle of the third quarter, I expect Michigan to put this one to bed.
Scotty White: Michigan wins 38-17. A little bit of a slow start and still some issues pressuring the quarterback, but the Wolverines pull away.
Zach Breininger: 45-14, Michigan. Much like the non-conference games, Michigan jumps out to a comfortable lead by halftime because of its talent advantage. The defense will take its foot off the gas midway through the third quarter, allowing for two Indiana touchdowns in garbage time.
Trevor Woods: 35-10. IU just isn’t that good and Michigan is on a mission.
David Woelkers: 45-21 Michigan, because one of these over/under predictions has to go my way at some point!