(note: this preview sucks. I came out flat this week and fell behind early. I am spending the time that would make it not suck on Ohio State material, Gods of Hubris be damned.)
Run Offense vs. Indiana
Terry Hoeppner may have installed a half-decent offensive system in Bloomington, but he can't materialize defensive linemen out of nothing. The Hoosier's run defense remains wretched, yielding over 200 yards per game and finding itself 104th in the country. Michigan's had its issues on the ground, but expect a performance like the Eastern game that featured steady, boring pounding.
Will Max Martin fumble his first carry? Will Mike Hart not limp anywhere and look on stoically from the sideline, breaking my heart? How many offensive linemen will Kevin Grady run into? Stay tuned!
Key Matchup: RB Mike Hart versus Play Effectively and Sit, Kid.
Pass Offense vs. Indiana
Freshman nickelback DeadShawn Ferret.
Ah, Indiana, how I love you. Whereas other members of the Big Ten get uppity and attempt to win games, go to bowls, and even claim championships, you continue to send out crippled ferrets at defensive back. It does me good to see the tradition (88th pass eff defense) continue.
Crippled ferrets do seem to be just as good as actual people for watching errant balls zing yards in front of their intended targets, but Henne will hit his share of downfield throws and I'm expecting the screens to be there. MOTS.
Key Matchup: Chad Henne versus Please Cease Throwing The Ball At Me, I'm In Row 40; If It's About The Chart I'll Stop.
Run Defense Vs Indiana
Um... I suppose there's going to be one.
Key Matchup: Graham and Burgess versus You've Heard It Before, Outside Contain.
Pass Defense vs. Indiana
Blake Powers has given Indiana a passable quarterback for the first time since Antwaan Randel-El finished wasting Michigan State. 6'7" WR James Hardy could give Michigan some troubles on the defensive end... if he plays. Indiana's top two receivers are both battling nagging injuries and are doubtful.
I've actually seen quite a bit of Indiana since they've had a tendency to play our opponents in the weeks leading up to their games with Michigan and their offense is familiar. We've seen it just last year against Miami. It relies heavily on Powers finding a slew of short routes and lax coverage or the Indiana wide receivers breaking tackles and moving the chains, a real death-by-thousand-papercuts job. Powers will occasionally fling a completed duck up to Hardy, who has some Braylon Edwards qualities about him, but Michigan is advised to take its chances.
Key Matchup: Michigan safeties versus missed tackles. Indiana can function as a pain in the ass if Powers is on and Michigan is not responsible.
Lance Bennett returns kicks and writes popular music. Ross Ryan kicks unreturnable kickoffs and pretends to be Kevin Grady.
Key Matchup: I wasn't kidding about the suck.
The kittens are enjoying some much needed R&R and installing a new offensive package heavily featuring the black kitten who was an option quarterback in high school.
Three Things I'd Like To See:
- Fifteen carries for Hart and a shot of him on the bench at halftime, relaxing.
- Henne throwing it straight.
- Lamarr Woodley. At all.
Three Things I Don't Want To See
- Anyone else critical to the enterprise holding something and wincing.
- The dreaded curse of flat coming off a bye week against Indiana.
- Any of that plucky underdog stuff.
Fear/Paranoia Level: 1 out of 10. (Baseline 5; -1 for It's Indiana; -1 for Seriously; -1 for Seriously(!); -1 for SERIOUSLY!)
Desperate need to win level: 10 out of 10. (Baseline 5; +5 for If We Lose To Indiana Kittens In A Three State Area Had Best Watch Out.)
Loss will cause me to... hit snooze, roll over, and finish my Scarlett Johansson dream.
Win will cause me to... continue breathing.
The strictures and conventions of sportswriting compel me to predict: Michigan rolls.
Finally, three opportunities for me to look stupid Sunday:
- Woodley does not play.
- Henne does not inspire confidence.
- 34-10, Michigan.