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Posts Tagged ‘Mitchell Paige’

#3 Michigan vs Indiana game preview

Friday, November 18th, 2016


um-indiana-game-preview-header

Michigan suffered its first loss of the season last weekend, but in the big picture, it didn’t really hurt them. Sure, it reduced the margin for error, but the Wolverines remain in the same position: win the next two and they’re in the Big Ten championship game. Win that one and they’re in the College Football Playoffs.

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Quick Facts
Michigan Stadium – 3:30p.m. ET – ESPN
Indiana Head Coach: Kevin Wilson (18th season)
Coaching Record: 25-46, 11-36 (all at IU)
Offensive Coordinator: Kevin Johns (6th season)
Defensive Coordinator: Tom Allen (1st season)
Last Season: 6-7 (2-6 Big Ten)
Last Meeting: UM 48 – IU 41 2OT (2015)
All-Time Series: Michigan 55-9
Record in Ann Arbor: Michigan 32-7
Jim Harbaugh vs Indiana 1-0
Last Michigan win: 2015 (48-41 2OT)
Last Indiana win: 1987 (14-10)
Current Streak: Michigan 20
Indiana Schedule to date
Opponent Result
at FIU W 34-13
Ball State W 30-20
Wake Forest L 28-33
#17 Michigan State W 24-21
at #2 Ohio State L 17-38
#10 Nebraska L 22-27
at Northwestern L 14-24
Maryland W 42-36
at Rutgers W 33-27
#10 Penn State L 31-45

The final stretch begins tomorrow against the Indiana Hoosiers. Perhaps the silver lining of the Iowa loss is that Michigan won’t get caught looking ahead to Ohio State next week. They’ll be focused and prepared to get back on track this Saturday. And a win there will give them confidence heading into Columbus after Thanksgiving.

Indiana comes in with a 5-5 record, looking for one more win to gain bowl eligibility. They should be able to secure that next week against in-state rival Purdue, but head coach Kevin Wilson would love to beat Michigan to set up a great chance at the first winning season of his career.

Wilson is in his sixth season in Bloomington and has yet to turn the corner after going 1-11 in his first season. The Hoosiers have won between four and six wins in each of the past four seasons, topping out at six a year ago. They snuck into the Pinstripe Bowl and had a chance to finish 7-6, but lost to Duke on a field goal in overtime.

This season, Indiana opened with wins over Florida International and Ball State, but lost to Wake Forest. Then they beat Michigan State, which looked to be a big win at the time, but we later found out wasn’t worth much more than a win over FIU and Ball State.

Indiana then hit the meat of its schedule, falling by 21 at Ohio State, five against Nebraska, and 10 at Northwestern. They bounced back with wins over Maryland and Rutgers, but suffered a 14-point loss to 10th-ranked Penn State last Saturday.

Last season, the Hoosiers nearly beat Jim Harbaugh’s first Michigan squad, but the Wolverines pulled it out in overtime. Delano Hill batted down a fourth down pass at the goal line to secure the win. Harbaugh hopes to leave no doubt this time around.

Let’s take a look at the matchups.

When Indiana has the ball

Offense has typically been the strength of the Hoosiers under Wilson, but it’s not quite as potent this season as it has been the past few. The Hoosiers rank seventh in the Big Ten and 71st nationally in scoring with 27.5 points per game, ninth in the Big Ten and 77th nationally in rushing (164.6 yards per game), second and 20th in passing (302.7 yards per game), and third and 32nd in total offense (467.3 yards per game).

Redshirt junior quarterback Richard Lagow ranks second in the Big Ten in passing in his first season as the starter. He has completed 61 percent of his passes for 2,866 yards, 17 touchdowns, and 13 interceptions. He has topped 200 yards passing in all but two games this season. Ohio State held him to 182 yards and Nebraska to 196. He has turned the ball over in six of 10 games and has multiple turnovers in four of them, so while he trails Purdue’s David Blough by fewer than six passing yards per game, he ranks just sixth in pass efficiency, about 10 rating points behind Wilton Speight.

Lagow has a group of talented receivers to throw to. Fifth-year senior Mitchell Paige ranks fourth in the Big Ten with 4.9 receptions per game, while sophomore Nick Westbrook ranks sixth at 4.4 and fifth-year senior Ricky Jones ranks seventh with 4.3. Westbrook is the conference’s second-leading receiver, averaging 79.3 yards per game. He has three 100-yard games including a 10-catch, 126-yard performance against Northwestern, but he didn’t catch a touchdown pass in that one. Last week, he caught his first touchdown pass since Week 3. Jones ranks sixth, averaging 71.3 yards. In Weeks 3 and 4, he caught a combined 13 passes for 332 yards and a touchdown. Since then, he has averaged 4.5 receptions for 60.5 yards. Paige isn’t as big of a home run threat, avearging just 10.9 yards per catch, but he also has two 100-yard games.

The running game has been the weakness offensively after losing Jordan Howard to the NFL. Junior Devine Redding is the Big Ten’s sixth-leading rusher, averaging 90.1 yards per game. He has topped 100 yards in half of the Hoosiers’ games and needs 99 yards on Saturday to eclipse 1,000 on the season. Ohio State, Nebraska, and Northwestern — three defenses somewhat comparable to Michigan’s — held Redding to just 59 yards and 3.6 yards per carry. But he went for 108 yards and two scores on 4.7 yards per carry against Penn State last Saturday. After Redding, Indiana’s backfield is pretty thin. Freshman Tyler Natee is the team’s second leading rusher with 220 yards, but he averages just 3.7  yards per carry. Sophomore Mike Majette and redshirt freshman Devontae Williams average about four carries apiece per game.

When Michigan has the ball

In years past, Indiana’s defense wasn’t able to stop, well, anyone. Most games were shootouts. This season, however, they’re actually somewhat respectable under the guidance of Tom Allen, who spent last season as South Florida’s defensive coordinator. The Bulls turned in the American Athletic Conference’s best scoring defense, allowing 19.6 points per game.

The Hoosiers rank 11th in the Big Ten and 67th nationally in scoring defense (28.4 points per game), 10th and 52nd in rush defense (156.2 yards per game), 13th and 73rd in pass defense (235.8 yards per game), and 11th and 55th in total defense (392.0 yards per game).

Junior Greg Gooch and sophomore Jacob Robinson are the starting defensive ends have combined for 6.5 tackles for loss and one sack. The defensive tackles, redshirt junior Nate Hoff and fifth-year senior Ralph Green III are a little more impactful with 11 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks.

The linebacking corps is the strength of the defense, lead by junior middle linebacker Tegray Scales, who ranks second in the Big Ten with 94 tackles. He also ranks second with 15 tackles for loss — one more than Jabrill Peppers — and leads the team with four sacks. Redshirt junior SAM linebacker Marcus Oliver is the team’s second-leading tackler with 74 and has 10.5 tackles for loss, which ranks ninth in the conference. True freshman Marcelino Ball plays the HUSKY linebacker position and has had a pretty good inaugural campaign, ranking thid on the team with 68 tackles and tied for the team lead with two interceptions. He’s also third with seven pass breakups.

Redshirt junior cornerback Rashard Fant is the Big Ten’s leading pass defender in terms of passes defended with 18 and pass breakups with 16. By comparison, Channing Stribling leads Michigan with 13 and nine, though he does have twice as many interceptions as Fant. True freshman A’Shon Riggins is the other corner and he ranks second on the team with eight pass breakups. Safeties Jonathan Crawford and Tony Fields have combined for 108 tackles, 13 pass breakups and three picks.

The other third

Redshirt junior kicker Griffin Oakes won the Big Ten Bakken-Andersen Kicker of the Year award in 2015, but has struggled this season, converting just 12-of-21 attempts. He does have a big leg with a long of 54 yards, but has lacked the consistency that he displayed a year ago. Redshirt sophomore punter Joseph Gedeon ranks ninth in the Big Ten with an average of 40.6 yards per punt. He has been accurate, landing 21 of 45 punts inside the 20 with no touchbacks.

Williams averages 19.8 yards per kick return, while Paige averages 7.8 yard per punt return.

Prediction

Last week I had a bad feeling about the Iowa game all week leading up to Saturday. It just felt like a trap game in every sense of the word and unfortunately, I was right. This week, I have the opposite feeling. Even with starting quarterback Wilton Speight out, Michigan is going to roll Indiana and gain a lot of confidence heading into Columbus.

Indiana’s offensive strength — its passing game — goes up against the best pass defense in the nation and won’t be able to move the ball consistently enough to score man points on Michigan. Sure, the Hoosiers passed for nearly 300 yards and scored 31 points against No. 10 Penn State last Saturday, but let’s not forget the PSU’s pass defense ranks in the bottom half of the Big Ten. Let’s also note that Indiana has trouble putting the ball in the end zone and finishing drives.

The Hoosiers rank dead last in the nation with a 68 percent red zone scoring rate. And they’ve scored touchdowns on just 47 percent of their red zone trips. Michigan has done so on 71 percent of theirs. In other words, when in the red zone, Michigan converts touchdowns more often than Indiana converts points. To make matters worse for Indiana, Michigan’s defense is the nation’s best in the red zone, holding opponents to just 65 percent scores and 41 percent touchdowns.

On offense, Michigan will move the ball just fine with John O’Korn’s mobility giving an added dimension that wasn’t there with Speight behind center. Indiana will surely try to force O’Korn to beat them with his arm, and he’ll do so against the second worst pass defense in the Big Ten. He’ll throw for over 200 yards, opening up the running game for another 200-plus as the offense gets back to its high-scoring ways.

Michigan 42 – Indiana 14

#14 Michigan 48 – Indiana 41 (2OT): Michigan survives on record day from Rudock, Chesson

Sunday, November 15th, 2015


Chesson vs IU(Isaiah Hole, Wolverine247)

Parallels have been drawn between Jim Harbaugh and his mentor Bo Schembechler, and on Saturday afternoon in Bloomington, Ind., Harbaugh nearly achieved a dubious feat that no Michigan coach since Schembechler has done: lose to Indiana. Instead, his scrappy bunch of Wolverines survived an onslaught from the Big Ten’s best offense to take home a 48-41 double-overtime victory — the 20th straight in the series.

Jake Rudock followed last week’s career game with an even better one against the Hoosiers, completing 33 of 46 passes for 440 yards, six touchdowns, and an interception. It was the third best passing game in Michigan history and the first time a Michigan quarterback has thrown for back to back 300-yard games since Chad Henne in 2004.

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Final Stats
Michigan Indiana
Score 48 41
Record 8-2 (5-1) 4-6 (0-6)
Total Yards 581 527
Net Rushing Yards 141 307
Net Passing Yards 440 220
First Downs 28 32
Turnovers 1 0
Penalties-Yards 13-72 9-79
Punts-Yards 3-123 2-79
Time of Possession 32:33 27:27
Third Down Conversions 6-of-12 6-of-17
Fourth Down Conversions 1-of-1 3-of-5
Sacks By-Yards 1-12 1-7
Field Goals 2-for-3 4-for-4
PATs 6-for-6 3-for-3
Red Zone Scores-Chances 4-of-4 5-of-6
Full Box Score

Four of those six touchdown passes were caught by Jehu Chesson, who became just the second receiver in Michigan history to catch four touchdown passes in one game, joining Derrick Alexander, who did so against Minnesota in 1992. Chosen led Michigan with 10 receptions for 207 yards and the four scores.

But the big games by Rudock and Chesson were almost negated by the legs of Indiana running back Jordan Howard. The UAB transfer rushed for a career high 238 yards on 35 carries (6.8 yards per carry) and two touchdowns, shredding the nation’s third-best rush defense time and time again.

The game could not have started better as Michigan’s defense stopped Indiana short of a first down on 4th and 2 near midfield to start the game, and four plays later, Rudock connected with Chesson for a 34 yard touchdown. But Indiana responded with back to back field goals from 39 and 36 yards to pull within 7-6.

At the start of the second quarter, Michigan went 75 yards on 10 plays for another Chesson touchdown. On the first play of the drive, Michigan was backed up 12 yards for a chop block, and on the second play Jake Butt lost seven yards. But on 2nd and 29 from their own 6-yard line, Rudock found Butt for 24 yards, then scrambled for 23 more. Just like that, Michigan was near midfield. A few plays later, Michigan face 3rd and 13, but Rudock scrambled for 19 yards, and two plays after that he found Chesson for a 15-yard touchdown.

Indiana got another field goal from Griffin Oakes, this time from 51 yards out, but Michigan answered with a 64-yard catch-and-run by Chesson to give Michigan a 21-9 lead. Indiana finally found the end zone with 49 seconds left in the first half when Howard carried it in from seven yards out. Michigan added a 22-yard Kenny Allen field goal to end the half with a 24-16 lead.

While the first half started out perfectly, the second did not. Michigan got the first possession, but went three and out, and Indiana receiver Mitchell Paige returned the punt 51 yards for a touchdown.

Michigan’s ensuing possession stalled at the Indiana 24 and Allen missed a 42 yard field goal after a bad snap messed up the timing. Indiana marched 69 yards in nine plays and kicked a 24-yard field goal to take their first lead of the game at 26-24.

After a Rudock interception in the Indiana red zone, Michigan’s defense came up with a stop, forcing an Indiana punt. Michigan’s offense put together its best drive of the game, going 78 yards in 15 plays and taking up six minutes and 57 seconds. But although they reached the Indiana 1-yard line, they had to settle for a 20-yard field goal to retake the lead, 27-26.

Indiana took possession with 6:30 remaining and proceed to run the ball eight straight times as Michigan couldn’t stop it. Howard gained 61 yards on six of those carries, including a 24-yard touchdown scamper to give Indiana a 34-27 lead.

Jourdan Lewis returned the kickoff 33 yards to give Michigan’s offense good field position, and Rudock wasted no time testing the IU secondary yet again. Back to back passes to Butt went 16 yards and nine yards, and on 3rd and 3, Rudock lobbed a 41-yarder to Chesson to the Indiana two with less than a minute left. On 1st and goal, Sione Houma was stopped at the one. On 2nd and goal, Houma was stuffed for no gain. On 3rd and goal, Drake Johnson was dropped for a four-yard loss, setting up a make or break fourth down with six seconds remaining. Rudock fired a strike to Chesson on a slant to tie the game.

On Indiana’s first possession of overtime, the Hoosiers ran five straight times, culminating with a 1-yard Howard touchdown run. Michigan answered with a 21-yard touchdown pass from Rudock to Butt. The Wolverines wasted no time scoring on their second possession as Rudock hit Amara Darboh for a 25-yard touchdown. Howard gained 17 yards on Indiana’s first play and then three on the second to set up 2nd and goal at the Michigan five. He was stopped for no gain to force third down, and then Nate Sudfeld was stopped at the two. On 4th and goal from the two, Indiana elected to put the ball in the air, but Delano Hill knocked it away from Paige at the goal line and Michigan survived.

Michigan totaled a season high 581 yards of offense, but also surrendered a season high 527. In addition to Chesson’s big day, Darboh topped 100 yards with 109 on eight catches. Butt caught seven passes for 82 yards. Rudock led Michigan in rushing with 64 yards on seven carries, while De’Veon Smith gained 58 on 12.

Now 8-2 overall and 5-1 in the Big Ten, Michigan remains in the Big Ten title hunt. They travel to Penn State (7-3, 4-2) for a noon kickoff next Saturday needing a win to stay in contention. The Wolverines also need Ohio State (10-0, 6-0) to beat Michigan State (9-1, 5-1) in the afternoon game to set up a Big Ten East Division title game on Nov. 28.

Game Ball – Offense

Jake Rudock (33 of 46 for 440 yards, 6 TDs, 1 INT, 7 carries for 64 yards)
This could have easily gone to Chesson for his 10-catch, 27-yard, four-touchdown performance, but Rudock got the nod for the second straight week. Not only did he throw for the third-most yards in a single game in Michigan history and set the single-game record with six touchdown passes, but he also led the team in rushing with 64 yards. If not for the lone interception in the red zone, Rudock would have turned in a perfect performance. He has benefited from two of the worst pass defenses in the Big Ten the past two weeks, but there’s no doubt that he’s more comfortable in the offense than he was earlier in the season and has developed a good rapport with his receivers. Can that continue against Penn State and Ohio State? We shall see.

Previous:
Week 1 – Jake Butt (8 rec for 93 yards and 1 TD)
Week 2 – De’Veon Smith (23 carries for 126 yards, 3 TDs)
Week 3 – Ty Isaac (8 carries for 114 yards, 1 TD)
Week 4 — De’Veon Smith (16 carries for 125 yards and 1 TD)
Week 5 — Drake Johnson (13 carries for 68 yards, 1 TD, 1 rec for 31 yards, 1 TD)
Week 6 — Mason Cole, Ben Braden, Graham Glasgow, Kyle Kalis, Erik Magnuson
Week 7 — Kenny Allen (3-for-3 field goals, 2-2 PATs)
Week 8 — Jabrill Peppers (4 carries for 16 yards, 1 TD, 1 punt return for 41 yards, 1 kick return for 43 yards)
Week 9 — Jake Rudock (18 of 25 for 337 yards, 2 TDs, 1 carry for 4 yards, 1 TD)

Game Ball – Defense

Delano Hill (10 tackles, 8 solo, 1 PBU)
It’s usually not a good thing when a safety leads the team in tackles. In fact, both of Michigan’s safeties — Hill and Jarrod Wilson — led the team with 10 tackles apiece. Indiana running back Jordan Howard shredded the front seven all game, forcing the safeties to make plays. But more than just tackles, Hill saved the game two plays in a row on Indiana’s second possession of double overtime. On 3rd and goal from the Michigan five, Sudfeld faked the handoff to Howard and kept it himself, but Hill was there for the stop at the two. Then, on fourth down, Hill was in perfect coverage of Mitchell Paige at the goal line and knocked the pass away. On a defense that has been praised most of the season, but imploded on Saturday, it was the unheralded Hill that rose to the occasion.

Previous:
Week 1 – Chris Wormley (5 tackles, 3 TFL)
Week 2 – Chris Wormley (6 tackles, 3 TFL, 1 sack)
Week 3 – Jourdan Lewis (3 tackles, 4 PBU)
Week 4 — Ryan Glasgow (3 tackles, 2 TFL)
Week 5 — Desmond Morgan (9 tackles, 1 INT, 2 PBU)
Week 6 — Jourdan Lewis (4 tackles, 1 TFL, 1 INT, 1 touchdown, 1 PBU)
Week 7 — Willie Henry (5 tackles, 3 TFL, 2 sacks, 1 PBU)
Week 8 — James Ross (9 tackles, 1 TFL, 1 sack)
Week 9 — Chris Wormley (4 tackles, 2 TFL, 2 sacks)

#14 Michigan vs Indiana game preivew

Friday, November 13th, 2015


Game Preview_Indiana_banner

After last season’s 5-7 finish, riddled with concussion controversies and firings, who would have predicted that Michigan would still be in the Big Ten title hunt with three games remaining in 2015? That’s precisely where Jim Harbaugh has his team, needing three wins and an Ohio State victory over Michigan State to secure a spot in the Big Ten Championship Game.

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Quick Facts
Memorial Stadium – 3:30p.m. EST – ABC
Indiana Head Coach: Kevin Wilson (5th season)
Coaching Record: 18-39, 6-31 B1G (all at IU)
Co-Offensive Coordinators: Kevin Johns (5th season)
Greg Frey (2nd season)
Co-Defensive Coordinators: Brian Knorr (2nd season)
William Inge (3rd season)
Last Season: 4-8 (1-7)
Last Meeting: Michigan 34 – Indiana 10
All-Time Series: Michigan leads 54-9
Record in Bloomington: Michigan 17-2
Jim Harbaugh vs Indiana: 1st meeting
Last Michigan win: 2014 (34-10)
Last Indiana win: 1987 (14-10)
Current Streak: Michigan 19

It won’t be easy and it begins in Bloomington against an Indiana squad that doesn’t have a very good record, but has played close against some good teams. After breezing through a weak non-conference schedule for the first time in 25 years, topping Southern Illinois (48-47), Florida International (36-22), Western Kentucky (38-35), and Wake Forest (31-24), the Hoosiers have lost five straight. But they took Ohio State to the brink, stalling at the OSU 9-yard line on the game’s final play and falling 34-27. They were also within five of Michigan State until the Spartans scored three touchdowns in the final five minutes to make it look like a blowout, 52-26. Last week, Indiana trailed Iowa by one at the beginning of the fourth quarter, and after giving up back to back touchdowns, scored one of their own to pull within eight. But they fell 35-27.

On the other hand, the Hoosiers lost a shootout against Rutgers, 55-52, and got shut down by Penn State, 29-7.

Head coach Kevin Wilson is now in his fifth season and has yet to achieve a winning record. With Maryland and Purdue remaining and four wins already under their belt, six wins is well within reach, which means a win over Michigan puts a winning record within reach.

After a couple of windy days in the midwest, the weather forecast for Saturday calls for mid-50s and sunny with no chance of precipitation and only a slight breeze. Hoosier fans will turn out in full force for their final home game of the season. Oh, who am I kidding? It’s Indiana, so the crowd will be at least a third maize and blue. Let’s take a look at the matchups.

When Indiana has the ball

Indiana ranks 30th nationally and first in the Big Ten in total offense (460.9 yards per game), 48th and 4th in rushing offense (185.8 yards per game), 31st and 2nd in passing offense (275.1 yards per game), 49th and 3rd in passing efficiency (136.81), and 48th and 5th in scoring (32.4 points per game).

Senior quarterback Nate Sudfeld is the Big Ten’s passing leader, averaging 278.6 yards per game. That’s 11.4 yards more than Connor Cook, who threw for 328 yards against Michigan last month, and 66.6 more per game than Minnesota’s Mitch Leidner, who torched the Michigan secondary for 317. He was injured against Ohio State and missed the Penn State game, but returned to go 32 of 42 for 464 yards and four touchdowns against Rutgers. He then completed 23 of 37 for 308 yards and three touchdowns against Michigan State, but Iowa’s stout defense held him to 16 of 37 for 180 yards, a touchdown, and an interception last week.

Three receivers have at least 400 yards, led by redshirt junior Ricky Jones, who ranks sixth in the conference with 78.7 yards per game. He has three 100-yard games and has caught at least four passes in seven of nine games. Sophomore Simmie Cobbs is the team’s second leading receiver with 36 receptions for 552 yards and three touchdowns. After being held to just one catch for five yards by Penn State, Cobbs had seven for 107 against Rutgers and five for 108 and a touchdown against Michigan State. Mitchell Paige, a 5’7″, 176 pound redshirt junior, has 33 catches for 416 yards and two scores. He has caught eight passes in two of the last three games.

The Hoosier offense isn’t all passing. It also features the Big Ten’s second leading rusher, junior Jordan Howard. The UAB transfer averages 137.3 rushing yards per game, just a yard fewer than Ohio State’s Ezekiel Elliott. He has eclipsed 100 yards in five of the seven games in which he has played — he missed the Penn State and Rutgers games to injury — and reached 203 yards against WKU. The Ohio State and Michigan State games were the only two that the didn’t reach 100 yards, and they both also happened to be the only games in which he had limited carries. He had 14 for 34 against Ohio State before getting injured in the first half and 11 for 78 against MSU.

Sophomore Devine Redding, a Cleveland Glenville product, has 463 yards, but is averaging just 3.5 yards per carry compared to Howard’s 6.1. His best performance came in Howard’s absence when he gained 99 yards and two touchdowns on 15 carries against Rutgers.

The offensive line is experienced and has done a great job of keeping Sudfeld upright. Indiana is tied with Michigan State for the fewest sacks allowed, 11. Michigan has allowed 13. Senior left tackle Jason Spriggs started 34 games entering this season and was named honorable mention All-Big Ten in 2012 and 2014. Redshirt junior right guard Dan Feeney is the second most experienced with 24 straight starts entering the season and all nine so far this year. Fifth year senior center Jake Reed is a converted defensive end and tight end who started five games at guard in 2013 before moving to center last season. Redshirt junior right tackle Dimitric Camiel started five games last season and all nine this year, while left guard is the long position that has seen a change this season. Redshirt freshman Wes Martin started the first six games, but redshirt junior Jacob Bailey, who had five career starts entering the season, has started the last three.

When Michigan has the ball

While Indiana’s offense ranks among the Big Ten’s best, its defense is at the opposite end of the spectrum. That’s nothing new for the Hoosiers the past few years. IU ranks 119th and 14th in total defense (504 yards per game), 77th and 13th against the run (174 yards per game), 126th and 14th against the pass (330 yards per game), 103rd and 13th in pass defense efficiency (144.83), and 114th and 14th in scoring defense (37 points per game).

Senior defensive end Nick Mangieri leads the team with seven sacks and eight tackles for loss. The nephew of former NFLer Ed Sutter carried 22 career starts into 2015. Junior tackle Darius Latham also has eight tackles for loss, but just two sacks, while fifth year senior nose tackle Adarius Rayner has 1.5 tackles for loss.

Junior middle linebacker T.J. Simmons is probably the best player on the defense, though he ranks second on the team with 58 tackles. He was a freshman All-American and All-Big Ten performer in 2013 and also has 4.5 tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks. Redshirt sophomore Marcus Oliver is the tackles leader with 79, but just 4.5 of those have gone for loss and just one sack. He also leads the team with four forced fumbles. The two outside linebackers are fifth year senior Zach Shaw and junior Clyde Newton, who have combined for 59 tackles, 10 for loss, and 3.5 sacks.

The secondary is led by redshirt sophomore free safety Chase Dutra, who ranks third on the team with 55 tackles, while freshman strong safety Jonathan Crawford has 52 tackles and a team-leading two interceptions. Redshirt sophomore corner Rashard Fant has the third most pass breakups in the Big Ten (13) behind Jourdan Lewis (19) and Iowa’s Desmond King (15). Freshman Andre Brown is the other corner with 35 tackles and four pass breakups.

While Michigan’s pass defense had two bad games against Michigan State and Minnesota, Indiana’s pass defense allows more passing yards per game than Michigan allowed in either of those games. Western Kentucky threw for 484 yards and Southern Illinois 411. Michigan State fell just short of 400 at 398 and Rutgers — who Michigan limited to just 164 passing yards last week — threw for 386. On the ground, while Michigan’s defense has allowed over 100 yards just three times and no opponent more than 144, Indiana’s defense has let seven teams rush for over 100 yards and four top 200, including Ohio State’s 272.

The other third

Redshirt sophomore kicker Griffin Oakes is 12 of 14 on the season with a long of 45. He made 13 of 18 as a freshman a year ago, including a school record 58-yarder against Maryland. Fifth year senior punter Eric Toth ranks eighth in the Big Ten with an average of 41.6 yards per punt. He has booted three over 50 yards, downed 35 percent of his punts inside the 20, and only four have gone for touchbacks.

Senior receiver Damon Graham and freshman corner Devonte Williams share the kick return duties. Graham averages 22.3 yards per return, while Williams averages 20.4. Paige is the lone punt returner, averaging 10.2 yards per return and has returned one for a touchdown.

Prediction

Michigan’s defense held Rutgers quarterback Chris Laviano in check last week, but will have its hands full with Sudfeld and Indiana’s offense. Rutgers was able to use some traps to spring a couple big runs, but Howard may be the best back the Wolverine defense has faced all season, so the defense will have to focus more on him. Indiana is surely the most balanced opponent so far in terms of threats in both the run game and passing game, so it will be interesting to see how the defense fares when it can’t focus primarily on one facet.

Regardless of how well the Hoosier offense does, I just don’t see its defense being able to hold Michigan’s offense out of the end zone enough to win. Almost without fail when a high-powered offense faces a formidable defense, the defense wins, and that’s going to be the case here as well.

Jake Rudock will build upon a great game last week with another big passing game against the Big Ten’s worst pass defense. Drake Johnson will lead the way on the ground and Michigan will near 500 total yards of offense. The defense will give up some yards and points, but it won’t be enough to seriously challenge. Michigan pulls off win number eight and stays in the title hunt for another week.

Michigan 47 – Indiana 21