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Posts Tagged ‘Rashard Fant’

#17 Michigan at Indiana game preview

Friday, October 13th, 2017


(Isaiah Hole)

Michigan tasted defeat for the first time this season last Saturday, dropping a rainy, windy, ugly affair to its bitter in-state rival, Michigan State. While the Michigan defense was dominant after allowing a pair of first half scores, the offense was impotent, unable to move — or hang on to — the ball, drawing criticism from throughout the fan base.

Quick Facts
Memorial Stadium – 12p.m. EST – ABC
Indiana Head Coach: Tom Allen (1st season)
Coaching Record: 3-3 (all at IU)
Offensive Coordinator: Mike DeBord (1st season)
Defensive Coordinator: Mark Hagen (1st season)
Last Season: 6-7 (4-5 Big Ten)
Last Meeting: UM 20 – IU 10 (2016)
All-Time Series: Michigan 56-9
Record in Bloomington: Michigan 18-2
Jim Harbaugh vs Indiana 2-0
Last Michigan win: 2016 (20-10)
Last Indiana win: 1987 (14-10)
Current Streak: Michigan 21
Indiana schedule to date
Opponent Result
#2 Ohio State L 21-49
at Virginia W 34-17
Georgia Southern W 52-17
at #4 Penn State L 14-45
Charleston Southern W 27-0

Jim Harbaugh doesn’t care about fan criticism though. He’s focused on the task at hand and that task is beating a team Michigan has handled 21 straight times and 36 of the last 37.

Indiana has a different look this season than the offensive beast it has the been past few now that Kevin Wilson is the offensive coordinator at Ohio State. Wilson was forced out last December for player mistreatment and Allen, the defensive coordinator assumed the reins for the Foster Farms Bowl, which the Hoosiers lost to Utah. Allen remained the head coach and brought in former Michigan offensive coordinator Mike DeBord to run his offense, signaling a marked change from Wilson.

He also added former Michigan star running back Mike Hart as his running backs coach and former Michigan quarterback Nick Sheridan as his quarterbacks coach.

They had a tough first assignment with Ohio State to open the season and actually held a 14-13 halftime lead before surrendering five second-half touchdowns. They bounced back in Week 2 with a 34-17 win at Virginia, which looks better and better each week as the Cavaliers are now 4-1.

Indiana got an unexpected bye week in Week 3 when Hurricane Irma forced their matchup with Florida International to be canceled. A 52-17 win over Georgia Southern was as expected — the Eagles are 0-4 with an average margin of defeat of more than 24 points.

The Hoosiers then had to travel to Happy Valley where they were summarily handled by the fourth-ranked Nittany Lions. Penn State raced out to a 28-0 first quarter lead and cruised to a 45-14 win. But Indiana got back in the win column last week, topping Charleston Southern of the FCS, 27-0. IU held the Buccaneers to just six first downs and 134 total yards.

So how good is Indiana in its first season post-Wilson? Who really knows. They’ve beaten an FCS team, an 0-4 Sun Belt team, and a perennial ACC bottom-feeder that hasn’t had a winning season since 2011, and they’ve lost to the top two teams in the Big Ten.

It could be said that Michigan is the first happy medium on the Hoosiers’ schedule. Granted, Michigan was ranked 7th nationally just a week ago, but the way the offense is playing Michigan is nowhere near a top-10 team. The defense may be the nation’s best, but unless the offense shows significant midseason progress with its backup quarterback, it will continue to hold the team back and give teams like Indiana a fighting chance.

Let’s take a look at the matchup.

Indiana offense

(IU Sports)

Mike DeBord has had a long and winding career since playing NAIA football in northern Indiana in the late 1970s. He worked his way up the coaching ranks as an offensive line coach at Fort Hays State, Eastern Illinois, Ball State, Colorado State, and Northwestern before landing at Michigan under Gary Moeller. He was kept on staff by Lloyd Carr and was named offensive coordinator for the first time in 1997, helping guide the Wolverines to the national title.

Following the 1999 season, he left to take his first head coaching position at Central Michigan, where he went just 12-34 before retuning to Michigan for the remainder of Carr’s career. From there, he spent two years with the Seattle Seahawks and three with the Chicago Bears and returned to the college game as Tennessee’s offensive coordinator the past two seasons before moving to Bloomington.

So far this season, DeBord’s offense ranks fourth in the Big Ten and 69th nationally in total offense (408.4 yards per game), fifth and 67th in scoring (29.6 points per game), ninth and 78th in rushing (148.8 yards per game), and fifth and 46th in passing (259.6 yards per game) — a far cry from the high-powered offenses under Wilson.

Unlike Harbaugh, who will stick with his starting quarterback until he can’t anymore, DeBord began the season utilizing a two-headed quarterback system at IU. Fifth-year senior Richard Lagow and redshirt freshman Peyton Ramsey split time through the first four games before Ramsey got the full-time nod against Charleston Southern last week. I’m not sure how telling a 32-of-41, 321-yard performance is against a team that ranks 75th in the FCS in pass efficiency defense, but the Cincinnati native was a combined 11-of-20 for 88 yards, a touchdown, and an interception in limited time against Ohio State and Penn State. Lagow, meanwhile, was the Big Ten’s second-leading passer last season, but is completing just 56.3 percent of his passes this season.

True freshman Morgan Ellison has taken command of the running game, averaging 71.6 yards per game. The three-star product from Ohio State’s back yard (Pickerington Central) did most of his work this season against Georgia State, rushing for 186 yards and two touchdowns on 25 carries. He did manage 5.9 yards per carry against Penn State, but got just nine carries as IU fell behind by 28 points in the first quarter. Ramsey is the second-leading rusher with 171 yards on 3.5 yards per carry, while redshirt freshman Cole Gest is the only other Hoosier with more than 100 yards and he leads the team with 6.1 yards per carry.

Simmie Cobbs seems like he has been at Indiana forever and leads the team with 33 receptions for 370 yards and three touchdowns. The redshirt junior was an honorable mention All-Big Ten performer in 2015, ranking third in the league with 1,035 yards, but suffered a season-ending injury a year ago. He was unstoppable in the opener against Ohio State, catching 11 passes for 149 yards and a score. He also caught 10 passes for 98 yards against Charleston Southern and leads the Big Ten with 6.6 per game.

Fellow redshirt junior Luke Timian is second on the team with 22 receptions out of the slot, but is ahead of only third-down back Mike Majette with 6.4 yards per reception. Junior Donovan Hale and redshirt freshman Taysir Mack are both tall targets on the outside with a combined 245 yards and three touchdowns so far. Mack had a big game against Charleston Southern, catching seven passes for 111 yards and two touchdowns, while Hale leads the team with 16.6 yards per reception. Senior tight end Ian Thomas is the team’s second-leading receiver with 254 yards and three scores.

The offensive line is middle of the pack in the Big Ten with 2.2 sacks allowed per game (Michigan allows 3.2) but struggles on the interior and hasn’t been able to get much push in the running game.

Indiana defense

(Sam Riche, AP)

Defensive coordinator Mark Hagen is a former IU linebacker who spent about a decade building his resume at Purdue before returning to his alma mater in 2011. He left to coach linebackers and defensive tackles at Texas A&M from 2013-15 and came back to Bloomington as the assistant defensive coordinator last season. When Allen was promoted to head coach he gave Hagen the reigns of the defense.

His senior-laded Hoosier defense ranks eighth in the Big Ten and 47th nationally in total defense (357.8 yards per game), ninth and 59th in scoring defense (25.6 points per game), 12th and 67th in rush defense (152.4 yards per game), and seventh and 42nd in pass defense (205.4 yards per game). But while those stats don’t show much, IU’s defense ranks 22nd nationally in S&P+.

The most notable player on the Indiana defense is senior linebacker Tegray Scales, who was a second-team All-American last season while leading the nation with 23.5 tackles for loss. He led the Big Ten with 126 tackles. So far this season he’s slacking off, only ranking fifth in the conference in both tackles (42) and tackles for loss (6.5). The linebacker corps is made up of experienced seniors and Chris Covington and Tony Fields join Scales. Covington, who started his career at IU as a quarterback, recorded a sack and fumble against Michigan last season and ranks second on the team with 32 tackles. Fields has 23 tackles and two for loss.

Indiana’s defensive front is led by fifth-year senior nose tackle Nate Hoff, who takes on double teams and clogs the middle effectively. He notched 1.5 tackles for loss against Michigan a year ago. Junior Jacob Robinson and redshirt freshman Jerome Johnson split time at the three-tech and have a combined 15 tackles, three for loss, and two sacks. Seniors Greg Gooch and Robert McCray II aren’t stars, though they may look like it against Michigan’s tackles. The ends and have combined for three tackles for loss and two sacks this season.

Fifth-year senior Rashard Fant is one of the Big Ten’s best corners after recording 39 pass breakups the past two seasons. He was a second-team All-Big Ten performer last season. He has three pass breakups so far this season and will present a very tough challenge for Michigan’s young receivers. Redshirt sophomore Andre Brown Jr is the other, less heralded corner and has 12 tackles and one pass breakup. Junior Jonathan Crawford and senior Chase Dutra are a pair of experienced safeties that have combined for 45 tackles, a tackle for loss, an interception, and four pass breakups so far this season. Crawford was honorable mention All-Big Ten last season.

Indiana special teams

Placekicker Griffin Oakes is the top kicker in Indiana history with 58 career field goals and a 74.4 percent career clip. He was the Big Ten’s Bakken-Andersen Kicker of the Year in 2015 and has made all five attempts so far this season with a long of 51. Redshirt sophomore punter Hayden Whitehead is an Aussie who ranks ninth in the Big Ten with an average of 40.3 yards per punt. He has downed 12 of 36 inside the 20 with three touchbacks.

Redshirt junior receiver J-Shun Harris II is a dangerous punt returner coming off an ACL injury in 2016. He leads the Big Ten with 22.8 yards per return and two touchdowns. Running back Devontae Williams is the main kick returner, averaging a modest 18.2 yards per return.

Prediction

I’m not looking forward to this game. I’m not worried about Michigan’s defense slowing down a Mike DeBord offense, but I am worried about this Michigan offense doing much against a pretty good IU defense. Unlike last week, weather shouldn’t be a problem with 80 degrees and sun expected in Bloomington, but weather was one of just many problems a week ago. This game has all the makings of a defensive slugfest.

Michigan’s receivers are going to have a hard time getting open in the secondary, so John O’Korn will have to rely on his tight ends. Indiana’s defense ranks fifth in the Big Ten with 2.8 sacks per game and Michigan’s line hasn’t protected its quarterbacks, so with tight coverage, O’Korn could be running for his life quite a bit. Perhaps Harbaugh, Tim Drevno, and Pep Hamilton will develop a different game plan this week, but it’s hard to see Michigan’s offense moving the ball consistently.

On the other side, there’s no way Indiana should more than about 10 points. Indiana is at its best in the air, but Michigan features the top pass defense in the nation. The Hoosiers may get a big play or two through the air, and may get another from Ramsey’s legs, but won’t get much from its running game.

Michigan wins a low-scoring game that doesn’t leave us feeling much better heading into a showdown at Penn State.

Score Prediction: Michigan 17 – Indiana 10

#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.

um-indiana_small
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 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.

UM-Indiana-small
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