Coming off a loss to their little brother last weekend, the no. 7 Michigan Wolverines will try to get back on track this week when they take on the Indiana Hoosiers. Of course, the Hoosiers were surprising winners in this game last year, snapping a 24-game losing streak to Michigan.
If Indiana is going to get its first win in Ann Arbor since 1967, the Hoosiers will do so as 20-point underdogs with the over/under for the game set at 51 points.
Jim Harbaugh must still be kicking himself over his team, blowing a 16-point lead last week against Michigan State. For what it’s worth, that loss is far from a season-ender for the Wolverines. However, they will need to win out and get a little outside help to reach the Big Ten Championship Game.
As for the Hoosiers, they need to win out just to qualify for a bowl game. A season that began with such high expectations has not planned out as expected, with Indiana sitting at 2-6 and 0-5 inside the Big Ten. If it matters, five of their losses have come against ranked teams, although the Hoosiers will get another ranked team this week.
With quarterbacks Michael Penix and Jack Tuttle injuries, true freshman Donaven McCulley is likely to start at quarterback for Indiana against Michigan.
While his numbers didn’t jump off the page, he provided a nice spark for Indiana last week, helping the Hoosiers to 35 points. Indiana had scored 28 total points in the team’s first four Big Ten games of the season, so last week was a step forward.
Of course, the Indiana defense is coming off a disappointing performance, giving up over 400 passing yards and 38 points in last week’s loss to Maryland.
That was after getting shredded by the Ohio State offense the previous week. At times, the Hoosiers have at least been able to stay tough against the run, but they have allowed at least 31 points in five of their eight games this year.
Despite last week’s loss, the Wolverines saw quarterback Cade McNamara have one of his best games of the season, throwing for 383 yards and two touchdowns.
Michigan has one of the top rushing attacks in the country, although Hassan Haskins and Blake Corum were both held in check last week. But McNamara’s performance could allow the Michigan offense to become more balanced this week.
Meanwhile, the Wolverines will continue to rely on their defense, which faltered late in last week’s game but has been reliable for most of the season.
The Wolverines have won at the line of scrimmage for most of the season, helping them hold six of their eight opponents to 17 points or less. However, good passing teams have been able to do some damage against the Michigan defense this year.
Unfortunately for the Hoosiers, they haven’t shown enough fight this year against the best teams on their schedule. With a true freshman quarterback getting the start and their rushing attack struggling for most of the season until last week, there is a narrow path to victory.
Look for Michigan to eventually run away with this game and cover the spread.
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