The Indiana University football team faces a tall order this Saturday when they head to Ann Arbor to face the Michigan Wolverines. Besides not having won there since 1967, IU is in the unenviable position of meeting Michigan in the aftermath of the Wolverines 40-37 four overtime loss at Penn State.
Perhaps as of much concern to IU head coach Kevin Wilson is how the Hoosiers will bounce back from last week's lackluster 42-28 loss to Michigan State. The Hoosiers normally explosive offense fell flat, with QB Nate Sudfeld uncharacteristically off-target with his throws and under consistent pressure. Though backup QB Tre Roberson had more success in guiding the team to a pair of touchdowns, Wilson will stick with Sudfeld. The Hoosiers hope to keep the pressure off whoever lines up behind center with a better run game. Both Tevin Coleman and Stephen Houston have hit big plays this season, but IU struggles in a physical, ball-control offensive environment when they need to grind out a couple of first downs to keep the clock and chains moving.
It stands to reason the Hoosiers should have more success against a Michigan defense that has become vulnerable. The Wolverines give up an average of 23 points per game, and are susceptible through the air, an Indiana strength. Michigan is more stingy on the ground, with the trio of James Ross III, Desmond Morgan, and Raymon Taylor among the most active defensive players in the conference. The Wolverines could get a boost from LB Jake Ryan, who returned to the lineup last week after a long-term knee injury.
Meanwhile, IU will have its hands full with versatile Michigan QB Devin Gardner, who took over for the equally-athletic Denard Robinson. Gardner, a better runner than passer at this point, relies on his quick feet and can pose problems when given protection. The Hoosiers have traditionally struggled against mobile quarterbacks, but they could find some cracks in the Wolverine offensive line, as injuries have tested the depth.
Coming off the tough Penn State loss, Michigan head man Brady Hoke professed his confidence in his squad but was complimentary toward the Hoosiers progress. "I like our football team; there's elements of it that need to produce a little more, need to have a little more urgency to how we're playing. But I like our team. We've got Indiana coming in here this weekend, and they are a good football team. Kevin (Wilson)'s done a nice job offensively. They have a lot of a lot of skill sets that they use. Defensively, I think they're more athletic than they've been in the last couple of years."
Extra Points: Michigan's current offensive coordinator, Al Borges, held the same role at Indiana in 2002-03.,,,IU has scored 28-or-more points in seven straight games dating back to last season, a program record.,,,IU is T-7th nationally in 60-plus yard plays (4), T-6th in 50-plus yarders (7), T-2nd in 40-plus yarders (16), 3rd in 30-plus yarders (23) and 9th in 20-plus yarders (44)....Hoosiers CB Tim Bennett ranks 1st nationally with 14 pass breakups and 15 passes defended. He recorded his first career interception at Michigan State. Bennett leads the B1G with 35 solos and is T-10th in tackles (7.5)....Michigan QB Devin Gardner ranks first in the Big Ten in total offense (285.8 avg.).