Week 12 Preview: Michigan vs Indiana
When: 4:00 PM EST
Where: Michigan Stadium, Ann Arbor, MI
Line: Michigan -28.5
Very hard to believe we are almost finished with the 2018 regular season. It’s going to be Senior Day at the Big House on Saturday as the seniors (and any players who end up leaving early) suit up for the last home game of their careers.
Michigan is now on a 9-game winning streak, where their only hiccup this season was in the opener against Notre Dame on the road, losing by 7 points. Since that game, the Wolverines have put together a pretty dominant string of games when looking at the whole picture. As we’ll see below, Jim Harbaugh’s bunch have outscored their opponents by an average of 24.3 points per game and over the last 3 games, that number is 28 points while having only allowed 7 points per game during that stretch. This speaks to both the offensive and defensive improvement that we’ve seen this year with this team. Michigan continues to improve on both sides of the ball but that needs to continue for the next couple of weeks if the Wolverines want to meet one of their goals, competing for the conference title in Indy.
This week, the Wolverines face off against Tom Allen’s Indiana Hoosiers. Indiana is currently 5-5 but they’ve only won 2 games in conference play. Last week, Indiana was able to beat Maryland by a very narrow margin at home, while losing to now 5-5 Minnesota on the road the week prior.
In the all-time series, Michigan has dominated to the tune of 57 wins and 9 losses where their most recent loss to the Hoosiers goes all the way back to 1987. The recent games between these two, on the other hand, have not been exactly lopsided with Michigan winning by 7 points, 10 points, and 7 points in the last three respectively.
Somehow, Indiana seems to keep games close, and this week they will surely be bringing a mindset that is to give Michigan their best shot. But will it be enough to keep this game close or to somehow end the 22 game losing streak that they have against the Maize and Blue?
Michigan vs Indiana Statistical Analysis
First, we will look at some key statistics.
|Team||Record||Avg Point Diff||Off YPP||Off YPG||3rd Down %||Def YPP||Def YPG||Def 3rd Down %||T/O Diff.||PPG||PPG Allowed|
|Team||Rec.||2ndO Wins||S&P+||S&P+||Rk||Off. S&P+||Rk||Def. S&P+||Rk||ST S&P+||Rk||Last Week||Chg|
In comparing the numbers, the first thing that jumps out is the fact that Michigan is outscoring opponents by over 3 TDs while Indiana is being outscored by a little over a Safety per game. Staying on the scoring subject for a moment, we can also see that the Hoosiers are giving up 30 points per game to the Wolverines’ 12.9. Michigan is also scoring roughly 10 more points per game than the Hoosiers are. The teams are pretty even when it comes to average turnover margin but another big thing to consider is 3rd down efficiency. Offensively Michigan is successful 50% of the time on 3rd downs and it appears the Hoosiers will allow them to stay right about there if they play to their averages. Conversely, Indiana may struggle to attain their 41.83% 3rd down conversion rate since Don Brown’s defense has only allowed conversions a little over 28% of the time.
Looking at the S&P numbers it looks even more ominous for Indiana where this matchup features the number 4 overall ranked team vs the number 81 overall ranked team. These rankings have Michigan better by a good margin on offense and defense both, but by only one spot on Special Teams. It does appear that Michigan dropped one spot overall, from 3 to 4 according to the S&P numbers while Indiana climbed 2 spots to 81 from 83.
There is a tool at ncaagamesim.com, that allows you to simulate college football games to see the outcome. In over 500 games simulated, Michigan wins this game 92.4% of the time with an average score of 31.8-9.9. Looking at the numbers above, this seems about right, however, in college football, anything can happen in any given game.
Who are these guys?. . .
Indiana is a team that passes quite a bit when they have the ball. On average, the Hoosiers air it out over 36 times per game! The QB, Soph Peyton Ramsey, is having an up and down season. He’s got way more yards than he had last year with 2335 this year, but he also missed some time last year due to injuries. His QBR is better this year as well, but he’s thrown far more interceptions than he did last year and averages over 1 interception per game. His last game without an interception was 4 games ago, when he faced THE Ohio State defense, but he was picked off once against Maryland, twice against Minny, once against PSU and two more times against Iowa in games since then. Ramsey does have the ability to scramble a bit and to make things happen with his legs, however, so this is something to keep an eye on. Ramsey is second on the team in rushing yards.
The leading rusher on the team is Stevie Scott with 894 yards on just 178 attempts. Scott is averaging 4 yards per carry and does get involved as a pass catcher from time to time. This offense butters it’s bread in the passing game, but if they watched the game last week with Michigan against Rutgers, I wouldn’t be surprised to see them take some shots running the ball to the perimeter and trying to get to the edge, as well as with some read/option, while trying to find ways to break a big run here and there like Rutgers was able to do.
Indiana spreads the ball around pretty well. They have 8 players with over 100 yards receiving, 6 of which have receiving touchdowns. The WRs I’d keep most of my attention on are Donavan Hale and J-Shun Harris II. Hale has 6 TDs on the season, leads the team in receiving yards with 425 and is the third most targeted on the team. Harris is second on the team in receptions but only has 303 yards receiving. Indiana, this year, has been more of a dink and dunk team, with Ramsey only averaging 6.5 yards per pass attempt.
On defense, the clear leader in tackles is Jonathan Crawford, a senior defensive back, who is probably the best defender on the team. Crawford has a sack and an interception, as well as a forced fumble and a fumble recovery to go with his team-leading 56 tackles (40 solo). DB Marcelino Ball and LB Dameon Willis Jr are the next most productive players defensively. Ball has 2.5 sacks and 3 passes defended to go with 31 tackles, while Willis has 1.5 sacks and also has 31 tackles.
On film, the second and third levels (LBs and DBs) do appear to get lost at times. This can’t happen against Michigan or the Wolverines will certainly take advantage. Indiana will also potentially be without two of its better LBs in Reakwon Jones and T.D. Roof. They kind of need these guys if they want a chance to stop Michigan.
Indiana wins if. . .
Michigan doesn’t bring their A-game and the Hoosiers are able to both force turnovers and get the Wolverines offense off the field on third downs where turnovers have not occurred. Michigan has not turned it over a ton this year, so the best bet is to hunker down on 3rd down and find ways to get the ball back to the offense. The Indiana offense will need all the chances they can get to move the ball on Michigan. We are talking about a team that seems to prefer throwing over running, facing off against the number one pass defense in the nation. Indiana will need to keep the Wolverine defense honest by working in a decent running game with a few screen passes worked in as well, which may also help slow down the pass rush. If the Hoosiers can’t slow down Michigan’s pass rushers, Ramsey could be in for a long day. I’d expect a large number of quick passes such as slants, curls, and back shoulders to be utilized by Ramsey, in an attempt to be able to move the ball through the air.
Michigan wins if. . .
They continue to be balanced on offense and play stout on defense. It sounds simple but it’s true. Indiana is the 79th best team and 65th best team at rush defense and pass defense respectively. The Wolverines should be able to establish their run-first mentality early in the game and should be able to also throw the ball successfully as well. It’s going to be a colder weather game so there likely will be lots of running going on. Indiana has to know this as well, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see a loaded box early and often to force Shea Patterson to air it out. The thing is, he’s good at doing that as evidenced by his status as a Golden Arm award finalist, his high QBR and his very high completion percentage. With Indiana’s lack of discipline on defense, I could see this being another game where Chris Evans ends up with more rushing yardage than Karan Higdon, potentially, but I think both will be successful. I wouldn’t be shocked to see both go for 75+ while Shea adds a few nice runs and 220+ passing. The 220 passing will only be true if Indiana has success bottling up the run, otherwise, Michigan won’t have to throw it nearly as much and 175 or so passing yards is probably reasonable. Preferably this is not a 7-10 point game and Michigan continues its dominance while en route to the big showdown next week in The Game, against that team down south (tTDS).
Injury/Missing Player Report:
Out: P Brad Robbins, DB Benjamin St-Juste, DE Luiji Vilain, QB Dylan McCaffrey.
Questionable: CB Lavert Hill, S Josh Metellus
Out/Doubtful: OL Mackenzie Nworah, RB Cole Gest, QB Michael Penix Jr. WR Whop Philyor (doubtful).
Questionable: LB Reakwon Jones, LB T.D. Roof
Thoughts From The BluePrint Family
This will be Michigan’s final home game of the season and final home game for the lovely seniors that have shed blood, sweat, and tears for this program on and off the field. It will be nice to see the seniors get one final win in Ann Arbor in front of the Big House crowd. Coming off a laid back, quiet blowout win last week in New Jersey, against a struggling Rutgers team, the Michigan Wolverines looks to finish off Indiana before heading to Ohio State next weekend to see who goes to the B1G Ten Championship game and more importantly the College Football Playoff! I expect to see a lot of Karan Higdon this game and Shea throwing the ball downfield to this amazing wideouts.
It’s hard to believe that this is the last home game of the season for the Wolverines.
This team has been special. Gary, Bush, Winovich (likely Shea)’s last time at The Big House… I know they’re going to ball out and give it their all!
Shea will have another 3TD game, I do believe the running game will be alive again, and the defense will only allow 7 points. I believe the defense will hold Indy to close to/under 100/150 yards of total offense
Final 2 games of the season, I AM PUMPED!!
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