Michigan at Indiana

Sports Xchange

October 11, 2017 at 1:27 pm.

GAME SNAPSHOT
KICKOFF: Saturday, noon ET
SITE: Memorial Stadium, Bloomington, Ind.
TV: ABC
SERIES: The Wolverines hold a 56-9 edge and have won the past 21 meetings. Michigan last lost to Indiana in 1987.
RANKINGS: Michigan No. 17

PLAYERS TO WATCH
Wolverines

–QB John O’Korn went 16-of-35 passing for 198 yards and was intercepted three times in his second start of the season. The senior wasn’t helped by his receivers — Eddie McDoom dropped a big gainer late in the game — but he took responsibilities for poor throws or decisions on the interceptions. O’Korn is by far the best option for the Wolverines with injured Wilton Speight out but he needs to play much better than he did against Michigan State.

–RB Karan Higdon is in line for a bigger role after rushing for a season-high 65 yards and catching two passes for 33 yards against Michigan State. The junior received an increase in his workload (matching his season high of 12 carries) after Ty Isaac lost a fumble in the opening quarter. Higdon had a solid 5.9-yard average as a sophomore, so he is certainly capable of improving on this year’s 4.5-yard mark that has seen him rush for 201 yards.

–DE Chase Winovich leads the Big Ten with 5.5 sacks and has forced a fumble this season. The junior has 31 tackles, including 7.5 for loss, while stepping up to be a force after being a capable reserve last season. Winovich had seven tackles against Michigan State and appears to be on his way to All-Big Ten honors if he can continue this type of production.

Hoosiers

–QB Peyton Ramsey, a redshirt freshman, became the first Indiana freshman quarterback to throw for 300 yards in a game since Kellen Lewis in 2006. Ramsey threw for 321 yards last week against Charleston Southern.

–WR Taysir Mack, who caught seven passes for 111 yards last week, became the first Hoosier freshman receiver to reach 100 yards in a game since Tandon Doss against Northwestern in 2008. Mack had two catches in the previous four games.

–RB Morgan Ellison, a freshman, leads the Hoosiers with 358 yards on 69 carries.

–LB Tegray Scales entered his senior season on six award watch lists, including Butkus, and was honored on nine preseason All-American teams. Scales leads the team with 42 tackles, including 6.5 for loss and 3.5 sacks.

KEYS
TO THE GAME

If you like punting, Michigan-Indiana might be the game for you.

“You got the top two teams in the country defensively in three-and-outs coming to play on Saturday,” Indiana coach Tom Allen said.

The Hoosiers (3-2, 0-2 Big Ten) are ranked No. 2 in three-and-outs and will be hosting the leader in that category, No. 17 Michigan, on Saturday in Big Ten action.

History indicates that Indiana will blink first. The Wolverines (4-1, 1-1) have won 21 consecutive games in the series. The Hoosiers’ last win over Michigan was 30 years ago in Bloomington.

Allen said Michigan defensive coordinator Don Brown is one of the best around.

“I have a ton of respect for him,” Allen said. “I always kind of studied what they do. Don’t really know him, never met him, but have always watched (his teams).”

The Wolverines rank No. 1 nationally in total defense, allowing 213 yards per game.

Michigan senior defensive tackle Maurice Hurst is playing superbly in the trenches with 26 tackles, including 5.5 for loss, while senior outside linebacker Mike McCray (34 stops, 5.5 for loss) is also playing at a high level. Defensive end Chase Winovich leads the Big Ten with 5.5 sacks.

“They create a lot of havoc, a lot of movement, that’s why they create a lot of sacks,” Allen said.

Indiana is averaging just 3.59 yards per carry, which is a troublesome stat against the Wolverines’ stout front. Freshman running back Morgan Ellison leads the Hoosiers with 358 on 69 carries.

The Hoosiers are ranked No. 47 in total defense but are coming off a 27-0 win over visiting Charleston Southern on Saturday.

“To hold a team to a shutout, the first time since 1993, is a big deal,” Allen said. “I think it’s hard to do that, no matter who you’re playing.”

Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh said senior John O’Korn will remain as his starting quarterback, not that he has a lot of good options. O’Korn took over when senior Wilton Speight sustained multiple cracked vertebrae in his neck in the first quarter at Purdue on Sept. 23.

Harbaugh said Speight would be out multiple weeks, but wasn’t sure if the quarterback would miss the rest of the season.

Behind O’Korn on the depth chart are redshirt freshman Brandon Peters and true freshman Dylan McCaffrey. Peters has thrown one collegiate pass, while McCaffrey hasn’t taken a snap.

O’Korn has completed 35 of 62 passes for 503 yards with four interceptions and one touchdown this season. He threw three interceptions Saturday in the Wolverines’ 14-10 loss to Michigan State.

“We’ll go through it, we’ll make corrections, we’ll make improvements and we’ll move on,” Harbaugh said.

O’Korn struggled against Indiana last season in his first start for Michigan, when he was just 7 of 16 for 59 yards.

Allen said Speight and O’Korn have similarities.

“I don’t think there is a huge drop-off; there is not a big difference,” Allen said. “It’s a very similar skill set, similar size. I think O’Korn is more mobile, he creates more issues there, for sure.”

Harbaugh said there is no frustration carryover from the loss to the team’s in-state rival.

“We’re fortunate to have an opponent to play this week and ready to attack this week’s opportunity,” Harbaugh said. “(The Hoosiers are) a good football team. We’ve had competitive games with them. They’re playing very good this year, especially at home. They have a very good defense, very athletic.”

Hoosiers redshirt freshman quarterback Peyton Ramsey, who had been sharing time with fifth-year senior Richard Lagow, made his first start against Charleston Southern. Lagow did not play. Ramsey completed 32 of 41 passes for 321 yards.

“I thought Peyton did a nice job of running the offense and being a good distributor of the ball, throwing for over 300 yards in a very methodical type of way,” Allen said.

Harbaugh is impressed with Ramsey and Lagow.

“Both their quarterbacks are good players and comfortable throwing the ball from their pocket or moving and making athletic plays,” Harbaugh said.

Allen expects Michigan to be plenty motivated.

“There’s no question they will come back with resurgence in their focus in some ways,” Allen said. “It’s a Big Ten game, and we expect to get their very best.”