Indiana's season is on the line this weekend in Ann Arbor, yet there's a feeling outside of the Indiana locker room that the year's conclusion is already predetermined.
The arrival of Coach Terry Hoeppner breathed new life into the IU program, and the 4-1 start had many thinking the postseason was well within reach. But four straight losses – coupled with a handful of injuries to important players – has many believing there won't be a whole lot of good coming out of Indiana's final regular season road trip.
After all, this is a venue that hasn't housed an Indiana win in 38 years, and this is an Indiana team that hasn't won a Big Ten road game in more than four years.
Michigan's biggest challenge is going to be not overlooking the Hoosiers. Michigan faces Ohio State in its regular season finale next weekend, a game that could be for a share of the Big Ten title if Penn State stumbles to Michigan State next weekend.
"The challenge for any team is to keep an eye on what's directly in front of them," Lloyd Carr said this week. "There are a lot of lessons out there, and you pay a heavy price if you aren't paying attention to what's directly in front of you.
"Every week on Sunday we talk about the reality of where we are, where the race is. When we talk about where we are, and what's out there, there's also an understanding that in this conference the deal is to try to get better every week. And you can't get better this week if you're thinking about next week."
Expect Michigan to be ready for the Hoosiers. It's very possible that both rush end Lamarr Woodley and running back Mike Hart will be on the sidelines, but Carr has plenty of capable options to turn to. The Michigan coach is also looking to get more production out of the passing game, so don't be surprised to see quarterback Chad Henne throwing it early and often against the Hoosiers.
You'd like to think that with the Ohio State game looming and the Hoosiers' postseason bowl hopes on the line, Indiana could spring the improbable upset in Ann Arbor. But when you consider the slew of injuries that Indiana is dealing with, the Hoosiers head into the Big House with no momentum and little hope of springing the upset.
HoosierNation.com Prediction: Michigan 38, Indiana 17
What's coming up:
On Monday – Five Numbers to Note
On Tuesday – Four Key Matchups
On Wednesday – Three Big Concerns
On Thursday – Two Things IU Must Do
On Friday – One Bold Prediction
On Saturday – Hoosier Gameday
One Day and Counting....
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