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Indiana football welcomes No. 4 Michigan for homecoming weekend faceoff

<p>Then-senior defensive back Bryant Fitzgerald holds his hands in the shape of a heart prior to Indiana’s football game against Idaho on Sept. 11, 2021, at Memorial Stadium. Indiana will face Michigan at 12 p.m. Oct. 8, at Memorial Stadium for the IU homecoming game.</p>

Then-senior defensive back Bryant Fitzgerald holds his hands in the shape of a heart prior to Indiana’s football game against Idaho on Sept. 11, 2021, at Memorial Stadium. Indiana will face Michigan at 12 p.m. Oct. 8, at Memorial Stadium for the IU homecoming game.

Indiana football will host No. 4 Michigan on Saturday for the second time in the last five years for homecoming. In their last homecoming meeting in 2017, Michigan was able to sneak out of Bloomington with a 27-20 overtime victory. 

Last season, Michigan seemed to break through for the first time under head coach Jim Harbaugh, finishing the Big Ten schedule undefeated and booking themselves a trip to the College Football Playoff. It was the first playoff appearance in Michigan’s program history. 

The early part of this year has been steady for the Wolverines, as they have glided to an undefeated record following a preseason quarterback battle that dragged into the regular season. Led by sophomore quarterback J.J. McCarthy, who beat out veteran graduate student Cade McNamara for the starting spot this fall, Michigan will rely heavily on its rushing attack. 

While Indiana has had issues with missed tackles throughout the early portion of this season, it has seemingly tightened up the run defense of late. The Hoosiers have allowed just 155 rushing yards combined in their last two matchups against the University of Cincinnati and Nebraska.  

[Related: Indiana football head coach Tom Allen addresses offensive line, Jaylin Lucas' development]

The Hoosiers' defense will have their hands full attempting to corral elusive Michigan junior running back Blake Corum, who has racked up 611 yards and 10 touchdowns already this season. Following his biggest game of the season two weeks ago against Maryland where he rushed for 243 yards, Corum will surely be a focal point. 

“Excited about this weekend,” Indiana head coach Tom Allen said. “It is a great opportunity for our program with the Michigan Wolverines coming for Homecoming, and Big Noon Kickoff being here, there are a lot of guys excited about that as well.” 

If Indiana hopes to pull off the upset, it will likely have to rely heavily on the health of their receiving corps. Last week, Indiana was without its leading receivers: junior Cam Camper and senior DJ Matthews Jr.  

“This is a big week for us to be able to get healthy, get better and press on," Allen said. "Hopefully we will get both of those guys back, if at all possible,” Allen said. 

As for the Indiana run game, it has been hit or miss so far. Senior running back Shaun Shivers has shared the backfield with fellow senior Josh Henderson, and neither has been able to find consistent yards to this point. Look for freshman running back and return specialist Jaylin Lucas to possibly get more opportunities this week after breaking off a 34-yard run last week against Nebraska. 

Junior quarterback Connor Bazelak and the Hoosier offense have struggled to start the game strong in the first few weeks, and against a team like Michigan, it will be necessary not to fall behind early. 

Indiana will look to halt its losing skid this homecoming weekend against a No. 4 Michigan team who hopes to be back in the College Football Playoff this January. Find the game on FOX at noon, Saturday. 

Follow reporters Garrett Newman (@GarrettNewman20) and Jacob Spudich (@spudichjacob) and columnist Will Foley (@foles24) for updates throughout the Indiana football season. 

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