Five Keys to the game: Michigan

Here are five keys for Indiana Saturday to have a chance at knocking off Michigan at the Big House for the first time since the late 1960's.

With every game that Indiana plays this season, we'll take a pregame look at five keys that the Hoosiers will need to be successful.

Here's the five keys for today's game with Michigan:

1. SLOW DOWN GARDNERMake things difficult Michigan quarterback Devin Gardner and the Hoosiers have a chance. The problem is that quarterbacks like this who are equally good in the run and the pass have given IU fits in recent seasons. Gardner is more than a capable running threat as he leads the Wolverines in rushing with 439 yards on 80 carries, an average of 5.5 yards per carry. And it also means he's running the ball an average of 13 times per game. If you can forced Gardner to throw the ball, there could be some opportunities. He has thrown for nearly 1,300 yards with 11 touchdowns but he also has 10 interceptions. That means he's on pace for 20 int's this year.

2.

GAIN EARLY MOMENTUM There's no doubt how big that was last week when Tevin Coleman broke a 64-yard touchdown run early in the game. It planted a seed of doubt in not only the Michigan State fans but also the Spartans themselves. Indiana needs to take advantage on offense early and get some early points on the scoreboard. IU's worst quarter in terms of scoring points this season has been the first. IU has 42 points in the opening quarter, an average of 7 per game. IU needs to come out with a 10-14 point quarter in this one.

3. DO NOT BECOME PREDICTABLE The easiest way to not be predictable is to be able to run the ball as well as throw it. This onus will be on both IU's running backs and the offensive line. If the Hoosiers can be balanced against Michigan, Sudfeld will have a chance to have a big day. If not, 110,000 fans could come into play in this one.

4. WIN THE FIELD POSITION GAME Indiana punter Erich Toth has been better this season. Last year in 48 punts, he had seven inside the 20 and two of 50 yards or more. This year, in 27 punts, he already has seven inside the 20 and four punts of 50 yards or more. That's significant improvement. His average is 41.3. In a game like this, Indiana is hoping that Toth doesn't have to punt much but when he does that he can pin Michigan into longer fields. That could be a huge key.

5. END ANOTHER JINX Everyone will use the company line that these players don't care about what has happened before. And maybe that's really true. But Michigan has defeated Indiana 17 times in a row and every time but once since 1968. That's 45 years. Two weeks, Indiana had a similar streak as it had lost all 16 games all-time against Penn State. Breaking that streak was important and this one would be, too.

Follow Terry Hutchens at Twitter.com/Foxsportshutch


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