Bob Wojnowski, John Niyo, Angelique S. Chengelis and Matt Charboneau talk about Michigan State's win over Michigan and what's ahead for each team. Detroit News



Zach Osterman, who covers Indiana for the Indianapolis Star, breaks down the Hoosiers for The Detroit News, answering five questions heading into today’s Michigan-Indiana game. You can follow him on Twitter at @ZachOsterman.

QUESTION: Indiana is coming off a shutout of Charleston Southern — is there much to take from that performance?

ANSWER: I think there's something to be said for IU pitching a shutout. It hadn't happened since 1993, and IU hadn't held an opponent without a pass completion since 1985. The caliber of opposition is what it is, but I've seen Indiana give up 40-plus points to FCS visitors before, so that's still an improvement. I think maybe the biggest takeaway from it is that Indiana has now developed a defense that is capable of simply saying it wants to shut an opponent out and then doing that. It's been a long, long time since the Hoosiers had that...

Q: The Hoosiers have moved into the top 25 in several defensive categories — how do you think they will do against a Michigan offense that has been struggling much of the season?

A: That to me is the big question this weekend. I think IU's offense will struggle against Michigan, because frankly, I think everyone will struggle to some degree against Michigan. But if IU's defense can go blow for blow with the Wolverines, then that's how I think the Hoosiers have a chance. Not that Indiana is as good defensively as Michigan (though I would caution against underrating IU at this point), but I think if Indiana can play well enough to match Michigan, then the game stays close and the Hoosiers have a shot.

More: Detroit News predictions: Michigan vs. Indiana

Q: Conversely, Michigan's defense is ranked No. 1 nationally. Does Indiana have the offensive firepower to score against a defense that has limited teams, particularly in the second half?

A: This is the biggest test IU will face this season, and it's not just because Michigan is maybe the best defense in the country. Indiana has offense-defense balance like it has not enjoyed in a long time, maybe two decades. But if this is going to be a breakthrough season in Bloomington — Tom Allen's word — then the Hoosiers have to be able to sustain offensively against good defenses. Peyton Ramsey did well in his shakedown cruise as IU's full-time starter, but that was Charleston Southern. How does he handle this weekend? How does his line? How do his receivers, against Michigan's physical secondary? It's as big of a window into what Indiana's ceiling this season might be as I think we've come across yet.

Q: A lot of positives for Peyton Ramsey coming out of the Charleston Southern game. What are his strengths?

A: He's an accurate passer (78 percent last weekend) and a mobile one. Definitely not as strong-armed as Richard Lagow, more of a timing/crossing route kind of passer, but very good on the move. He's not point-to-point fast so much as he runs with good vision when he takes off, but I definitely wouldn't describe him as dual-threat. He's pass first but with a mobile element, which is what Allen said he wanted from the position long-term anyway.

Q: Indiana is 3-2 overall, 0-2 Big Ten. Do you see the Hoosiers reaching a bowl this year under first-year IU coach Tom Allen?

A: Right now, I would say a bowl is more likely than not, with the qualifier that I think IU has to win one of its next three. It's definitely plausible that the Hoosiers could lose those three in a row and still beat Illinois, Rutgers and Purdue in November. But that's an awfully slim margin for error, especially as only Rutgers is at home. If Indiana can find its way to winning one of Michigan, at Michigan State or at Maryland, then I think the Hoosiers' bowl chances are really solid. Find a way to win two and we could be talking about IU taking something even better than a bottom-of-the-food-chain bid, but that's still a bit lofty.

Right now, I would lean 52-48 yes, they go bowling. But there's still an awful lot, I think, to learn about this team before anyone can speak with more confidence. Saturday is big in that regard.


Simmie Cobbs Jr., WR: The 6-foot-4 standout receiver broke his ankle on the first play from scrimmage last season and is fully healthy now and leading the Big Ten in catches, averaging 6.6, which is tied for 22nd nationally, and he is third in the league in yards, averaging 74 a game. Cobbs ranks sixth in program history with 1,035 yards. He has helped lead the Hoosiers, who are ranked fifth in the Big Ten in passing offense, averaging 259.6.

Peyton Ramsey, QB: The redshirt freshman quarterback made his first career start last Saturday against Charleston Southern and threw for 321 yards on 32-of-41 passes (78.0 percent) with two touchdowns. He also rushed for 54 yards on 15 carries and recovered a fumble for a TD. Ramsey became the first IU freshman to throw for 300-plus yards since Kellen Lewis (321 yards) at Minnesota on Nov. 4, 2006. Ramsey has rushed for 171 yards and has one rushing touchdown.

Tegray Scales, LB: Scales earned second-team All-America honors from in 2016 and became the first Hoosiers linebacker recognized on an All-America team since Van Waiters (third team) in 1987. The senior leads the team this season with 8.4 tackles (42 tackles, 5th in the Big Ten. Since the start of the 2016 season, Scales has 11, 10-plus tackle games. In the 2017 opener against No. 2 Ohio State, he had a game-high 12 stops and nine solos, and recorded eight tackles, 1.5 for loss.


Pitching a shutout: The Hoosiers defeated Charleston Southern, 27-0, last weekend, as they posted their first shutout since Oct. 30, 1993, against Michigan State (10-0). The Hoosiers did not allow a completion (0-for-10) for the seventh time in school history and the first time since Oct. 19, 1985 against Minnesota. Indiana is second nationally averaging 6.8 three-and-outs per game

It’s been 30 years: Michigan leads the overall series, 56-9. Indiana last defeated Michigan on Oct. 24, 1987, 14-10, in Bloomington. That’s 21 straight victories for the Wolverines in the series. If they win, it will be their 500th Big Ten. Michigan is 499-203- 18 record during its 110th season of Big Ten competition..

Familiar faces: Former Michigan assistant Mike DeBord, who during his time with the Wolverines was an offensive coordinator, special teams and recruiting director, offensive line coach and, most recently a sport administrator (2013-2015), is the Hoosiers’ associate head coach/offensive coordinator. DeBord hired former Michigan quarterback Nick Sheridan (2006-2009) as quarterbacks coach and Mike Hart, Michigan’s all-time leading rusher, as running backs coach.