Michigan vs. Indiana: Three keys to a Michigan football victory




 

Michigan football looks to remain unbeaten on Saturday when it travels to Bloomington, Indiana to take on the 3-2 Hoosiers.

The Hoosiers have dropped back-to-back games after starting the season 3-0. Indiana lost to Cincinnati and Nebraska by a combined score of 80-45.

The maize and blue is coming off of a big road win last week beating Iowa in Iowa City. The Wolverines won 27-14 and the run attack beat a top ranked Iowa run defense. Michigan was able to generate 172 yards on the ground against the Hawkeyes.

The Wolverines lead the all-time series against Indiana, 60-10. Michigan beat the Hoosiers last year in Ann Arbor, 29-17. The maize and blue have won the last 25 out of 26 games against Indiana - the Hoosiers won back in 2020.

Michigan has competed quite well at Memorial Stadium, where Indiana plays, the Wolverines have an all-time record of 19-2 when playing the Hoosiers in their own stadium.

Here are our three keys for Michigan to keep the train rolling against the Hoosiers.

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Get pressure on Bazelak

 

Rich Janzaruk-The Herald-Times

Indiana has really changed up its offense with Connor Bazelak under center. The former Missouri Tigers' transfer has the most passing attempts in the country this season for Indiana. Bazelak has attempted 246 passes through five games.

But, he's not all that accurate. The Hoosiers gun-slinger has completed 52% of his passes this season. The last two games have not been very good either. He completed 47% against Cincinnati and 50% against Nebraska.

The correlation between that is the number of sacks and the amount of pressure that has gone against the Hoosiers. Bazelak has been sacked 11 times this season, and seven times in the past two weeks. During that stretch, he has thrown three interceptions. According to Pro Football Focus, 13.9% and 11.8% of pressures against Cincinnati and Nebraska, respectively, went for sacks.

Bazelak's overall passing grade from PFF is a 56.6. But, when he is in clean pocket, he has a 66.3 grade. Everything goes down when he feels pressure. PFF gives him a 41.3 grade under pressure and that is when he has thrown three interceptions.

The offensive line hasn't done Bazelak any favors. PFF ranks the pass blocking for the Hoosiers as the 119th in the country and PFF gives them a 45.7 grade.

Michigan has sacked the quarterback seven times itself in the past two games against Maryland and Iowa. While most of those have been in the second half, this could be a game that the Wolverines could get their pass rush going much earlier.

If the Wolverines can get to Bazelak early and get him uncomfortable in the pocket, then it appears that he could be turnover prone. The Hoosiers will throw the ball a ton on Saturday with their up-tempo offense and if Michigan can make some plays on defense, then we would see some turnovers go the Wolverines' way.

Get J.J. McCarthy comfortable with the deep ball

 

Photo: Isaiah Hole

J.J. McCarthy is statistically the most accurate passer in college football. He is completing 78% of his passes and has thrown six touchdowns compared to zero interceptions.

The sophomore has been exceptionally accurate on throws 20-yards or less. From 0-to-9 yards he is completing 92.9% of his passes, from 10-to-19 yards he is completing 71.4% of his throws.

But it's the 20-yards or more where he has had some struggles. McCarthy is completing 40% of his passes over 20 yards and has missed on several attempts the past two games.

Going up against Indiana would be a good time to get his arm dialed in. The Hoosiers have the 118th-ranked passing defense that allows 277.8 yards-per-game. PFF ranks the Hoosiers' coverage at 109th with a 58.2 grade.

Indiana has been susceptible to giving up a lot of yards in the passing game all season. With a tougher road ahead for Michigan, like Penn State next week, this is truly a good week for McCarthy to get connected with his receivers down the field.

Don't get caught looking ahead

 

Photo: Isaiah Hole

On paper, this game should be a blowout. Michigan dominates every stat line going up against Indiana on Saturday.

The Wolverines could lose this game for two reasons only: either they become careless with the football, or Michgian is looking ahead to Penn State.

Next week will be a matchup against the Nittany Lions who will be 5-0 and a potential top-10 team coming to Ann Arbor.

But Michigan has to get past the Hoosiers before it turns its attention to Penn State. As mentioned before, Indiana will have an up-tempo offense that could cause some substitution issues for the Wolverines. Indiana may keep the same personnel on the field which will limit Michigan's ability to sub in and out. So, the Wolverines will need to watch out for that and some of the defenders may see more snaps than usual in this one.

Offensively, the Wolverines just need to execute and take care of the ball. Indiana allows 420 yards-per-game and it doesn't do anything really well on the defensive side of the ball. The only thing that the Hoosiers do remotely well at is stopping the run. Indiana allows 142 yards on the ground and is the 69th-ranked run defense in the country.

But Michigan has Blake Corum and Donovan Edwards. Indiana hasn't gone up against running backs on that level yet this season. Corum has the most rushing touchdowns in football with 10 and he is the No. 4 rusher in college through five weeks.

As long as Michigan comes out focused on Indiana and only the Hoosiers, the Wolverines should leave Bloomington undefeated going into Penn State week.

Story originally appeared on Wolverines Wire

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