No. 13 Michigan is on a three-game winning streak and is playing some of its best football this season. But before the Wolverines can start getting ready for the regular-season finale vs. No. 2 Ohio State in Ann Arbor, Michigan, they have to take care of business in a tough road game at Indiana on Saturday.
This series has been decidedly in favor of Michigan, which has won 23 straight in a streak that dates back to 1988. The Wolverines have also won 58 of the 67 all-time meetings between the programs, but Tom Allen has a group of Hoosiers that have already proven to duck some of the historical expectations for Indiana football. It was, after all, just one week ago that Indiana saw itself ranked in the AP Top 25 poll for the first time since 1994. Unfortunately that distinction proved to be short-lived with a drop in the rankings following the Hoosiers’ 34-27 loss at Penn State.
So who wins this battle of Big Ten foes? Let’s take a closer look at what to expect in Bloomington, Indiana and make some picks both straight up and against the spread.
Michigan: Somewhere during the Penn State game, the switch flipped for Michigan. After reviewing comments from Jim Harbaugh from earlier in the year, it now makes sense when he suggested that his team was “close.” Since halftime of the 28-21 loss to the Nittany Lions, the Wolverines have outscored opponents 141-38. That includes 30+ point wins against rivals Notre Dame and Michigan State as Josh Gattis’ offense has delivered on the explosive promises that came with his arrival from Alabama. This is not the same team that struggled with Army, lost to Wisconsin and couldn’t get any offense going against Iowa. Michigan may be out of the Big Ten title race with its two conference losses, but it’s playing like the second best team in the league as we wind down the regular season and look ahead to next week’s meeting with Ohio State.
Indiana: The Hoosiers, at 7-3 heading into Saturday’s home finale, have already clinched their first winning season since 2007 and now they’re seeking just the sixth eight-win season in program history. Tom Allen has done a great job building out his staff since taking over for Kevin Wilson, and that group has worked to improve the Hoosiers’ status on the recruiting trail and raise the level of talent on the roster. Allen’s 17-win total through his first three seasons as head coach is already the best Indiana fans have seen in several decades, and it’s a sign of things moving in the right direction under his leadership.
Even with the rivalry game at Purdue coming up next week, Saturday’s game feels like one of the biggest of the year. Nothing would cap off this historic season quite like snapping a 23-game losing streak to Michigan at home on Senior Day.
Date: Saturday, Nov. 23 | Time: 3:30 p.m. ET
Location: Memorial Stadium — Bloomington, Indiana
TV: ESPN | Live stream: WatchESPN.com
Game prediction, picks
While Michigan is playing great right now, can it be trusted to maintain that high level of play in a sandwich spot on the road against a good Indiana team? Michigan may have won 23 straight against the Hoosiers, but Harbaugh’s wins in the series have been by 7, 10, 7 and 11. With Michigan State in the rearview and Ohio State coming up next, Harbaugh and his staff have been challenged with keeping the Wolverines’ focus on Indiana. I’m going out on a limb and saying they are able to continue this streak, adding to the anticipation for next week’s regular season finale. Pick: Michigan (-8.5)
Which picks can you make with confidence in Week 13? And which line is way off? Visit SportsLine to see which teams win and cover the spread, all from a proven computer model that has returned almost $4,000 in profit over the past four seasons.