Hoosiers Are Live Dogs vs. Suddenly Vulnerable Michigan

michigan indiana

Rainman M.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017 2:49 PM GMT

Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2017 2:49 PM GMT

Indiana (3-2) hosts No. 17 Michigan (4-1) Saturday at Noon ET. MIchigan opened as 6 point favorites, but strong public action has bet that number up to 7.

No. 17 Michigan Wolverines at Indiana Hoosiers (+7)

The key question that confronts Indiana for Saturday's Big Ten home game vs. No. 17 Michigan is the Hoosiers' decision to start freshman Peyton Ramsey at quarterback. He deserves the spot because of the spark that he has provided in coming off the bench. He led Indiana in its 34-17 victory over Virginia and to a couple of scoring drives against Penn State after the Hoosiers had fallen behind 28-0. Then Ramsey threw 41 passes in his first start last week against Charleston Southern. 

Indiana offensive coordinator Mike DeBord will work better with Ramsey, who is reminiscent of the dual-threat quarterback DeBord worked with at Tennessee. Ramsey's rushing skills will also improve an otherwise insufficient rushing attack.

When the opposing defense has to pay greater respect to Indiana's rush attack, the wide receivers can become more dangerous. Simmie Cobbs Jr., Ramsey's top target, produced over 1,000 yards in his last healthy season (2015). He caught 11 passes for 149 yards this season against top-ranked Ohio State. He uses his size and arm length to catch balls within an extensive range. 

Michigan has an elite passing and rushing defense. However, Indiana's passing attack will be adequate because its young offensive line has matured, improving from giving up 9 sacks in the first 2 games to averaging 1.7 sacks allowed in the last 3. A significant reason for this improvement is playing the elusive Ramsey at quarterback. Last week against Michigan State's dual-threat quarterback, Michigan had no sacks.

The key question facing Michigan: Will quarterback John O'Korn, in his second start this season, be able to spark the offense? O'Korn lacks a proven record and abysmal against the Spartans' talented but youthful secondary. His previous start before that was against Indiana last season: he went 7 of 16 for 59 yards. Despite the injury of Tarik Black, the Wolverines still possess talent and depth at wide receiver. However, dropped passes and lack of chemistry with the incapable O'Korn are worrisome.

Indiana will presumably pursue the same strategy that it did against Penn State: stack the box. Michigan's talent on offense lies with running backs Chris Evans, Ty Isaac and Karan Higdon. Even before quarterback Wilton Speight got injured, Michigan had struggled to produce consistent drives. Indiana already boasts success in limiting offenses with a dominant rushing attack. Against Penn State, it held Saquon Barkley to 56 yards on 20 carries.

IU has a very respectable run defense, ranked 38th in average yards per carry. Their ranking of 57th in sack percentage shows that they can create havoc on passing downs as well. Michigan's offensive line is ranked towards the bottom in sacks allowed and is struggling to offer adequate run protection.

 

The Verdict

Michigan's anemic offense cannot justify a cover on college football picks, especially because of Indiana's proven ability to contain a high-quality rush attack. Michigan is regressing to its usual struggle in takeaways and is averaging less than 1 takeaway in the past 3 games. U-M also tends to come out flat. Offensively, it is ranked 104th in first-half scoring, compared to 30th in second-half scoring. Defensively, the Wolverines are 34th in points allowed in the first half, compared to first in the second.

Free NCAAF Pick: Indiana First-Half Line (TBA)Best Line Offered: BetOnline

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