The Michigan Wolverines have one more piece of business to tend to before its season-defining game versus the Ohio State Buckeyes on Saturday, November 24. This week, the Wolverines will welcome the Indiana Hoosiers to a jam-packed Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor for a game which kicks off at 4 PM EST and will be broadcast to a national audience on FS1.
The 9-1 Wolverines opened up the season with a disappointing loss to the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. There were plenty of questions about the team’s desire in the wake of that lackluster effort, but that’s nothing but a distant memory at this point. Michigan has been locked and loaded while racking up nine straight victories.
As evidenced by its 5-5 mark, the story has been vastly different for the Hoosiers. The team started off with a promising record of 3-0, but the program came crashing back to reality by dropping five of its next seven, which includes a four-game losing streak. The club was able to snag a 34-32 victory over Maryland last week to bring its mark to .500.
As the hefty spread indicates, this looks like a mismatch on paper. That said, there is intrigue to be found. Can head coach Jim Harbaugh keep his troops focused for what looks like an easy win? Is Indiana up to the task of playing spoiler for a conference rival that has a clear path to a College Football Playoff spot?
We’ll find out the answers to those questions late Saturday afternoon. Let’s take a look at this matchup in detail, starting with the game line.
Indiana @ Michigan, 4:00 PM EST, FS1
- Indiana +28 (-104)
- Michigan -28 (-116)
- Over 53.5 (-112)
- Under 53.5 (-108)
Indiana vs. Michigan pick:
Indiana has had a tough go of things in Big Ten conference play. The team’s record in conference games stands at 2-5, and they currently sit in sixth place in the Big Ten East. Michigan sits atop that division with a perfect conference record of 7-0, and the program currently holds down the number four spot in the College Football Playoff poll.
Indiana remains bowl eligible, but it obviously has a herculean task on the docket for this week. For the season, the Hoosiers are averaging 27.6 points per game while allowing an even 30. The offense is relatively balanced with more strength in the running game, while the defense has some issues versus both facets. The unit is decent on the pressure front with 17 sacks, 24 forced turnovers, and a defensive score.
Sophomore QB Peyton Ramsey has had himself a decent season statistically with 21 total touchdowns, but that’s tempered by his throwing of 11 picks. He has completed 67.3 percent of his passes for 2,335 yards, and he has added on another 266 rushing yards. Freshman Stevie Scott has been leading the way in the backfield – 178/984/8 – while junior Donovan Hale is the team’s leading pass catcher – 31/425/6.
Since falling by a score of 24-17 in the opener to Notre Dame, Michigan has looked like a much different squad while ripping off nine in a row. The team’s biggest test over that span was a 20-17 victory over Northwestern, but no other contest has been closer than 14 points.
The Wolverines are averaging 37.2 points per game on the season while giving up just 12.9. The offense is relatively balanced with more strength in the rushing attack, while the defense is stout against both facets. Michigan has 29 sacks – tied for 16th in the nation – 14 turnovers and four defensive scores so far in 2018.
Junior Shea Patterson has proven to be a solid fit for the Harbaugh offense, completing 67 percent of his passes for 1,827 yards, 17 TDs, and three picks. Patterson also has a pair of rushing scores this year. Senior Karan Higdon has had the backfield on lockdown – 188/1,005/9 – while sophomore Donovan Peoples-Jones is the team’s leading wideout, hauling in 30 balls for 447 yards and seven scores.
Looking ahead, Indiana closes out the regular season with a Purdue Boilermakers squad that currently sits at 5-5. Purdue is better than its record suggests, so that shapes up as another tough one for the Hoosiers. As for Michigan, the season closes out with a showdown at Ohio State, currently the #10 team in the nation.
Michigan holds a convincing 57-9 edge in all-time meetings between these two schools, and it’s currently riding a 22-game winning streak in the series. The two squads have hooked up in each of the last five years. While Michigan is a perfect 5-0 over that span, its mark against the spread is just 2-2-1. The Over has been the correct choice in three of those contests.
Last year, these teams hooked up on October 14 in Indiana for a game with a projected total of 44 points in which Michigan was favored by seven points. The oddsmakers just about nailed it, as Michigan walked out with a 27-20 victory.
The spread is much larger this time around with Michigan a huge 28-point favorite. The total has been kicked up to 53.5 points as well, largely off of the expectation that Michigan will pour on the points if possible in a bid to curry further favor with the College Football Playoff perspective.
From a bottom line perspective, it’s tough to paint a picture in which Indiana strolls into Michigan Stadium and walks out with a win, especially in a season in which Michigan has been playing like one of the top teams in the nation. This is easily the best team of the Harbaugh error, and we can’t see him allowing them to step on a landmine before getting to the pivotal game with Ohio State. The spread is pretty hefty, but so is the talent disparity. We’re expecting another big win for Michigan.
We’ll take Michigan minus four touchdowns in a rout.