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Indiana Daily Student

The Other Sideline: Meet No. 9 Michigan before it plays Indiana football

<p>Sophomore tight end A.J. Barner runs for a touchdown Sept. 11, 2021, at Memorial Stadium. Indiana snapped a 24-game losing streak to Michigan last year.</p>

Sophomore tight end A.J. Barner runs for a touchdown Sept. 11, 2021, at Memorial Stadium. Indiana snapped a 24-game losing streak to Michigan last year.

The Other Sideline is a weekly segment where the Indiana Daily Student interviews a student reporter from Indiana football’s weekend opponent. The questions and answers have been edited for clarity and brevity.

Indiana football will head Saturday to Ann Arbor, Michigan, for a week 10 matchup one year after snapping a 24-game losing streak to Michigan. 

Michigan lost its first game of the season last week against in-state rival Michigan State and dropped three spots in the AP Poll to No. 9. 

Before the game, the Indiana Daily Student spoke to Brendan Roose, a senior sports editor at The Michigan Daily, to preview the matchup.

IDS: How is Michigan preparing to play Indiana this season?

Roose: A lot of it comes off of recovering from a loss. Michigan had its first loss this season last week against Michigan State. Really the biggest thing is staying focused for them and they’ve been emphasizing they need to win out to achieve their goals. That’s the No. 1 focus right now for the team.

IDS: Going from No. 6 Michigan State to Indiana to No. 22 Penn State, is there any fear of this being a trap game?

Roose: There is that element for Michigan. Throughout the season, the coaches have been talking about nameless, faceless opponents — trying to treat each opponent as the same and just focus on winning every game instead of what opponent is coming up. 

But at the same time, that’s not something that’s easy to do. Obviously Michigan sees the trip to Happy Valley on the schedule next week, so it’ll really be a test to see if Michigan can come off a big loss and really remain focused on Indiana when it has one of its toughest games on the schedule remaining just one week later.

IDS: Despite Indiana not having its best season, is there more interest in this game because of the Hoosiers’ win last year?

Roose: I think Indiana still provides some level of a test, especially because Indiana likes to run the ball, and Michigan’s run defense isn’t always up to par. It’ll be an interesting test to see if Michigan can still defend the run well and if there’s any adjustments made to stay focused and stay at the level it was before the Michigan State game. 

IDS: What are Michigan’s team strengths?

Roose: Michigan really likes to run the ball, that’s been the biggest theme for most of the season. It has possibly one of the best running back combos in the country between sophomore Blake Corum and senior Hassan Haskins but it showed against Michigan State that it can throw the ball when needed. Junior quarterback Cade McNamara had probably the best game of his career while Michigan’s running backs were having a tough time getting out of the backfield. 

Its other big strength has been its defense. It’s been quite the recovery for Michigan’s defense after a tragic season last year resulting in their defensive coordinator getting fired. If Michigan’s defense is able to defend the run and avoid one-on-one matchups on deep balls it should be able to continue to find success this season.

IDS: What does Indiana need to go to the Big House and steal an upset victory?

Roose: It needs to jump out early. Michigan showed against Michigan State that when it gets out behind it can struggle to recover. I think for Indiana to win that game, it needs to pull some tricks out in the first couple drives, get an early lead and then get pressure on McNamara. 

McNamara has been genuinely good under pressure, but he hasn’t faced that much this season because his offensive line’s been solid. Bringing some exotic blitz packages and getting pressure on him could force him into poor decisions. If you can force a turnover or two that can really swing the game.

IDS: Who wins the game and why?

Roose: It is a little tougher to choose than I would’ve thought a couple of weeks ago, but I still think Michigan pulls out a pretty comfortable victory just because it has more talent. I’ll give Michigan a 34-21 edge.

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