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— It seems nearly every week, Michigan players are asked about the toll of the losing season.

And every week they talk about not quitting.

Michigan is 3-5 overall, 1-3 Big Ten coming off the program's sixth loss in the last seven meetings to in-state rival Michigan State. Michigan must win three of its final four, which includes trips to Northwestern and Ohio State, to become bowl eligible.

First up is Indiana, winless in the Big Ten, on Saturday at Michigan Stadium.

"Our goal is to win out; that has to be our goal," tight end Jake Butt said Tuesday. "We've got to get to a bowl."

But linebacker Jake Ryan said the Wolverines can't look beyond Saturday.

"Indiana is our goal right now," Ryan said. "We're focused on them. It's all about Indiana right now. Indiana, Indiana, Indiana."

Running back Justice Hayes, who has taken on a bigger role in the offense since the season-ending injury to Derrick Green, said the players talk constantly about reaching a bowl.

But he, too, said their attention can't drift beyond Indiana.

"We want to win out these next four games," Hayes said. "We want to make it to a bowl game. My team would never quit. That's not Michigan-like. We're confident in ourselves and we're going to continue to be confident.

"I'm hungry, and my teammates are hungry, as well. I'm playing for my team just as much as my team is playing for me. We want to get a 'W'. My team would never quit, that's how we feel."

Ryan, a senior, said his job is to help keep his teammates motivated. With so many young players, Ryan is cognizant of the way he maintains his body language and said he thinks about that every time he enters Schembechler Hall.

"That's what Michigan is, we're expected to win," Ryan said. "We're the same way. We're going to stick together and play as hard as we can."

Since the second half of last season, when Michigan finished 2-6, Ryan has frequently been out front of the media and had to talk about losses. He was asked if the losing wears even on him.

"It does, but you can't look at it like that," he said. "You've got to be a leader. You've got to block out all the negativity and play for the guys next to you."

Amara Darboh and Brennen Beyer said this season has brought the players closer.

"It's forcing us to build a stronger brotherhood," Darboh said.

Still, Hayes acknowledged the season can be wearing on the players.

"Of course, but you've got to build on it. That's life," Hayes said. "Some things don't go your way and you've got to look for the next thing to help you get things right. That's life. But we're not going to quit and we're going to stay close as a team."

achengelis@detroitnews.com

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Indiana at Michigan

Kickoff: 3:30 p.m. Saturday, Michigan Stadium, Ann Arbor

TV/radio: BTN/WWJ

Records: Indiana 3-4 (0-3 Big Ten), Michigan 3-5 (1-3)

Line: Michigan by 7½

Series: Michigan leads 53-9 (Michigan 63-47, Oct. 19, 2013)

Outlook: The game will be Michigan's homecoming game.

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