Michigan Wolverines (7-2 SU, 5-4 ATS) vs. Indiana Hoosiers (4-5 SU, 4-5 ATS)
NCAA Week 11
Date/Time: November 14th/3:30pm ET
Where: Memorial Stadium
by Evergreen, NFL Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: MICH -13/IND +13
Over/Under Total: 57.5
There are a lot of make-or-break games this time of year in College Football. Teams at the top are looking to avoid a slip and the also-rans are playing the conference spoiler role and trying to secure the best bowl possible. The Michigan Wolverines hit the road to take on the Indiana Hoosiers this weekend and the home team is very interested in pulling the upset. The Hoosiers are riding a five game losing streak but can still go bowling with a couple of wins on the way out and Michigan is holding out faint hopes that they can still be atop the Big Ten East when all is said and done. A win for each team is necessary to keep those late season goals in tact so we should see a well fought game to say the least.
Michigan has surprised with how quickly they have turned things around under Jim Harbaugh and enter this game as 13 point favorites. The Wolverines have struggled on the road against lesser competition lately, going 0-4 against the spread in their last four as visitors up against sub-.500 teams. They are 5-2 ATS in the last seven against Indiana with the Hoosiers riding a four game ATS losing streak in conference.
It has been a wild season for Michigan that started with a close loss in the opener against what turned out to be a solid Utah team. Smooth sailing in the following weeks was wrecked by the botched punt stunner against Michigan State. The very next week saw Minnesota fail to execute a late game goal line situation and Michigan wound up 1-1 in what had to be the oddest two game stretch in terms of final play outcomes. No matter how certain games have finished, it is clear that Harbaugh has the #15 Wolverines on track to return to its place as a traditional NCAA power.
Much of that turn-around can be attributed to fantastic team defense by the Wolverines. Entering the week, Michigan ranks 2nd in total yards allowed and gives up an NCAA best 11.9 points per game. It is hard to get those kind of stats in video games unless you set the computer AI to freshman. That overall defensive dominance has allowed Michigan to win with a pretty pedestrian offense. Jake Rudock is an under-rated athlete but has thrown for just eight touchdowns against seven interceptions and Michigan is just 92nd in passing yards per game. The running game is a strength but is more grinding than gouging. That said, nine different Wolverines have at least one rushing touchdown with seven finding paydirt on two or more occasions, including Rudock with four rushing scores. The ball-control offense does keep the defense fresh and Michigan has taken advantage of many short fields on the way to averaging 30.9 points per game.
Indiana is the complete opposite of its opponent this week in that the Hoosier offense is more than capable while it is the defense that is underperforming. Underperforming is a kind word to use as Indiana is allowing 504 yards per game and 37 points per game to the competition. Most problematic is the 330 passing yards allowed by the Hoosiers per game as teams simply move the ball down the field at will and put a ton of pressure on the Indiana offense to keep up. Nate Sudfeld has been a top performer at quarterback, throwing for 15 touchdowns with just 5 interceptions while adding three rushing scores. Jordan Howard and Devine Redding each have seven rushing scores and have teamed up for over 1,400 rushing yards so the talent is there on the offense but it has not been enough to cover for the scuffling defense.
Even during the five game losing streak for Indiana, there have been some good performances. A seven point loss to Ohio State and an eight point defeat against Iowa show there is an ability to play the best teams in the conference. A 55-52 barnburner against Rutgers makes you confident that Indiana will fight no matter what kind of gameflow you get but the Hoosiers have been on the wrong side of the stick under all circumstances.
I think there is plenty of reason to think Indiana comes out with an ATS win this weekend. Michigan is a bully of a defense but the Wolverine offense is not fast-moving enough to get away from the Hoosiers and Sudfeld isnt going to be completely shutdown. Michigan is a good bet to move the ball and score somewhere near their average of 31 points per game but Indiana is averaging 32.4 and even accounting for the opponent defense, you would think the Hoosiers are good for 20. I havent seen much support for the outright upset by Indiana but an ATS win is a good bet provided they dont lay a complete egg on offense. Look for Michigan to improve to 8-2 but the Hoosiers get the cover as the final score comes in at 29-20.
Evergreens Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Indiana
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