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2019 Indiana football preview: Michigan Wolverines

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jim harbaugh may be undefeated against IU, but he’s 2-7 against his rivals

Every Big Ten East team presents specific challenges for the IU football team. But IU-Michigan is a special type of Hell each year. Indiana almost always keeps it close, but never actually wins. And afterwards, Michigan fans do one of two things: 1) tweet condescending praise like “Good game Hoosiers, you guys got a bright future ahead,” or 2) yell about how Hoosier fans have ZERO CLASS over some perceived slight that happened during the game. Sports fans are awesome, aren’t they!

Let’s take a look at the past decade of games in this series, shall we?

2009 — The Hoosiers take a late lead on Michigan thanks to an 85-yard Darius Willis TD run. But the Hoosiers may have counted out QBFORCE aka Tate Forcier, who drove the Wolverines down the field for the game-winning drive. This is also the game where Bill Lynch threw his gum! Michigan would go on to lose 7 of their last 8 games that season.

2010 — Basically the same exact game as 2009, except sub in Denard Robinson’s name for Tate Forcier’s.

2013 — At the nadir of the Doug Mallory era, Indiana could not stop Jeremy Gallon, and despite the Hoosiers putting up a ton of offense, Michigan still won 63-47. I was at the Big House for this game. Michigan broke a total yardage record that had been previously set against, uhhh, Delaware State. To give you an idea of how bad IU’s defense was that season, Michigan followed this points explosion with negative-48 rush yards in its next game against MSU.

2014 — Brady Hoke had one foot pushed out the door by that point, and so the Wolverines had no incentive to go all out in this one. And yet, they still beat a Nate Sudfeld-less Indiana 34-10.

2015 — Indiana had this game thanks to a late Jordan Howard TD run. Howard dominated the end of that game, but the Hoosiers left too much time on the clock for Michigan to score, send it into OT, then win in double OT thanks in part to Kevin Wilson suddenly deciding to go away from what had been a successful run game.

2016 — IU took the lead at the Big House at halftime after a Wilton Speight injury, but then got destroyed by De’Veon Smith on the ground in the second half. Less chaos, same result. 20-10, Michigan.

2017 — Another OT game at home thanks this time to a frantic comeback at the end by Indiana. But then Karan Higdon scored on the first play from scrimmage in OT, and the Hoosiers couldn’t get anything done on their turn.

2018 — Another game where IU led in Ann Arbor at halftime but had a less-than-ideal second half to let Michigan pull away. History repeats itself ad infinitum.

What to expect from the Wolverines

Last season, during a so-called “revenge tour,” Michigan seemed like a shoo-in to win the Big Ten East for much of the year. But then at Ohio State, the Buckeyes tore apart their vaunted defense in a 62-39 shellacking. Then Michigan barely showed up for its bowl game, which is fair considering the disappointment of yet another OSU loss. Jim Harbaugh responded by bringing Josh Gattis in from Alabama to run and modernize the offense from its old-school pro-style setup of previous years. Meanwhile, some of the defensive staff is turning over as well, but Don Brown still runs the show. Can Gattis give the Wolverine offense enough firepower to be a top contender, both in the division and nationally? We’ll have a good idea of this before Michigan comes to IU on Nov. 23.

And yes, large adult child Jim Harbaugh is still head coach, so expect him to do an obscene amount of Jim Harbaugh stuff all year, because he cannot stop being Jim Harbaugh at all times. He does not have an off switch.

Three Names to Watch

Shea Patterson, QB - The Ole Miss transfer adapted well to his new environs last year. Patterson has a ton of experience, and the offensive system change should give him a boost as well.

Donovan Peoples-Jones, WR - Peoples-Jones had 8 TDs last season for the Wolverines, and he should be Patterson’s top target along with Tarik Black.

Lavert Hill, CB - An all-B1G selection at cornerback last year, Hill decided to forgo the NFL to come back to Michigan and he still should be awesome for his senior season.

How IU Can Win

This game comes at a very interesting part of Michigan’s schedule. They face Michigan State the week before, and the Buckeyes the week after. IU can keep it close if Michigan is looking ahead to the next weekend. The Hoosiers will also do best if they play to their strengths and not try to out-Michigan Michigan.

Prediction

Wolverines come out flat, but do juuuuust enough to sneak by and keep their B1G title and CFP hopes alive.

Michigan 24, Indiana 19