Friday, November 10, 2006

Indiana Football Preview

The Series

  • Record: 34-7-0
  • Since '69: 28-1-0
  • First Meeting: 12-0 Michigan, 11/3/1900, Regents Field, Ann Arbor
  • Last Meeting: 41-14, 11/12/2005, Michigan Stadium
  • Indiana
    • Most Points: 31-34 (Michigan wins), 10/30/1999, Memorial Stadium, Bloomington
    • Since '69: Same
    • Biggest Margin of Victory: 20-0, 9/30/1944, Michigan Stadium
    • Since '69: 14-10, 10/24/1987, Memorial Stadium
    • Biggest Shutout: 20-0, 9/30/1944, Michigan Stadium
    • Since '69: N/A
  • Michigan
    • Most Points: 63-0 10/10/1925, Ferry Field, Ann Arbor
    • Since '69: 61-7, 10/30/1971, Michigan Stadium
    • Biggest Margin of Victory: 63-0, 10/10/1925, Ferry Field
    • Since '69: 58-0, 10/14/2000, Michigan Stadium
    • Biggest Shutout: 63-0, 10/10/1925, Ferry Field
    • Since '69: 58-0, 10/14/2000, Michigan Stadium
  • Michigan has more than twice as many shutout victories (16) over Indiana as the Hoosiers have regular wins over the Wolverines (7).
  • Michigan won the first five meetings in the series by a combined 219-0.
  • Indiana has been a member of the Western/Big Ten Conference since 1899, but Michigan and IU did not play each other during the period of 1904-1924. Michigan didn't play in the conference for eight of those years, but it's still odd.
  • The Wolverines also didn't travel to Bloomington for the first time until 1932, when Harry Kipke's national championship squad beat the Hoosiers 7-0 in front of 10,440 fans. During the entire 8-0 season, the team only gave up 13 total points.

The Hoosiers have had a wildly up-and-down season so far. They've beaten Iowa and blown out Michigan State, but they've also lost to 1-AA Southern Illinois and been absolutely destroyed by Minnesota. Head coach Terry Hoeppner started out the season battling a brain tumor and underwent his second surgery, and we here hope he beats this thing, finally. It was really moving to see how happy and proud he was when his team beat the Hawkeyes.

Against common opponents, the Hoosiers are 3-3, with wins against Ball State (24-23), Iowa (31-28), and Michigan State (46-21), and losses to Wisconsin (52-17), Ohio State (44-3), and Minnesota (63-26). Boding well for Michigan is the fact that the three teams with the best rushing attacks were the ones that came away with blowout victories. Ball State's run game is practically non-existent, Iowa was without Albert Young, and the Spartans had already lost Javon Ringer before heading to Bloomington.

The stats show that the Hoosiers are giving up 171 ypg / 4.6 ypc on the ground. That's competitive with Ball State's numbers before last week. However, the Hoosiers have played some superior running teams, so I wouldn't expect 350 yards again. But it looks like Mike Hart will be able to find some room to run. The defense has also only been able to get 11 sacks, so their line might not be very good. By comparison, LaMarr Woodley alone has 11 sacks for Michigan.

In the air, Indiana gives up 231 ypg / 8.6 ypa / 13.9 ypc. These numbers are probably soft, just like Michigan's own pass defense numbers, but for different reasons. Indiana's opponents have been running 69% of their plays on the ground, so they just haven't felt the need to go to the air. Michigan's opponents have been ground into tiny bits on the turf, so they've had to pass for their lives. Michigan gives up 211 ypg in the air, but on 51.5% completions. Indiana's opponents are at 61.5%.

The offense is a different story. Quarterback Kellen Lewis, like Antwaan Randle-El before him, is the focus of both the rushing and passing attacks. He leads the team in yards gained on the ground, with 333 on 103 attempts and 4 TD. Tailback Marcus Thigpen is close behind him with 325 yards, but on only 82 attempts (4.0 ypc vs. Lewis's 3.2). Josiah Sears has a good-looking 6.0 ypc on 38 attempts, with a long of 25 yds, and 4 TDs.

As a team, they're passing the ball 227 ypg / 6.4 ypa / 11.9 ypc, with Lewis throwing a 55-yard pass as his longest. The 15 TD/11 INT ratio looks pretty bad until you realize that 2 TD/5 INT are from backup Blake Powers. James Hardy is one to watch out for on the receiving end. He's another freakishly tall wideout like they grow in Minnesota and pretty much the only non-RB they throw to in the endzone. The yardage fall-off behind him is marginal, but the TD production is huge: The six receivers behind him with over 100 yards combine for only 4 TDs.

Special teams have been a net strength for Indiana. Kicking, they're average. Receiving, they're excellent. Marcus Thigpen has been having an excellent year returning kickoffs, taking it to the house a full three times and averaging 32.7 yards per return. On punt returns, cornerback Tracy Porter has his own return for a touchdown, although he's only fielded 7 returns. Taking out the outlier, he's still getting a quality 13.1 yards per return. He missed a lot of time this year, and he was out against Minnesota. His replacement, Lance Bennett, is very good at taking a knee.

When they actually have to kick the ball, the Hoosiers have some issues. Austin Starr has put 4 out of bounds this year. His 10 touchbacks are comparable to Michigan's kickers, but they've only put 1 OB. The coverage has at least been adequate. Starr also handles the field goal duties, where he's 9 for 11 on the season. They don't ask for much range from him: He made his one 46-yard try, but everything else has been 35 yards or less. On those, he's 8 for 10. Punter Tyson Beattie's numbers are comparable to Zoltan Mesko. He's averaging 40.4 net with a long of 71, so that's happening.

One additional stat I saw was that they were virtually at par with their opponents when it came to time of possession, despite the gulf in rushing yardage (112.5 ypg vs. 171 ypg). This leads me to believe that the Hoosiers are vulnerable to the big play and, if they don't get a kick-return TD, need to string a drive together to get their own scores. This should be a good matchup for Michigan's defense. Give them enough chances, and they've been pretty good about stopping drives. In the last four games, no one's scored a TD on them without a big play.

This is a team Michigan should beat handily. We match up strength-on-weakness in a lot of places with them. We have one great cornerback, they have one great receiver. We run the ball all the time, they have trouble stopping it. Actually, this is probably the best news, since our gameplan was undoubtedly going to be run, run, run, run anyway. We'll also see if we're still able to crush a mobile, running quarterback. We did it at the beginning of the season versus Vanderbilt; let's see it we can get it done one more time. The advantage they have on us is the return game, so this should be a tune up for Ted Ginn. We need to avoid giving them the cheap touchdown, but we haven't let anyone by us yet. I want to say 35-10 Michigan would be reasonable, but I'm sure they'll make it closer for no good reason. 28-14, good guys.

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