No. 23 Michigan brings next test for No. 13 Indiana
Indiana is off to its best start in the Big Ten since 1991.
But IU football coach Tom Allen still believes there is another level that the No. 13 Hoosiers can reach as they head into Saturday’s home matchup with No. 23 Michigan.
“It’s about us playing our best football,” Allen said. “To me that’s the focus. We haven’t done that yet.”
Indiana (2-0) followed up its dramatic overtime win over Penn State in its opener with a methodical 37-21 win at Rutgers on Saturday behind three touchdowns passing and one rushing from quarterback Michael Penix Jr. The Hoosiers also forced three turnovers for the second straight week, giving IU six takeaways on the season.
“The defense gave us great field position,” Penix said. “I feel like it is a team effort. The defense causes turnovers whenever the opponent was backed up, and that gave us a short field. We took advantage of it.”
Michigan (1-1) is coming off a disappointing 27-24 loss to rival Michigan State, further putting heat on sixth-year coach Jim Harbaugh. The Wolverines have gone 8-13 against Ohio State, Penn State, Michigan State and Wisconsin during Harbaugh’s five-plus year tenure.
After an encouraging 49-24 win at Minnesota to start the season, Michigan was unable to generate the same big plays the following week in its home opener.
“I love coaching this team, the current team and the past teams we’ve had,” Harbaugh said. “We forge on. Obviously coming off a tough loss, it was a gut-wrenching loss on Saturday. You can’t dwell on it. Just like any time we’ve had a win here, we’ve got to move on quickly to the next game.”
Harbaugh said the Wolverines are looking to do a better job finishing off drives after scoring just four times on 12 drives against the Spartans. Starting quarterback Joe Milton passed for an even 300 yards, but Michigan finished the game just 7 of 17 on third-down conversations.
“Not enough points per drive,” Harbaugh said. “A lot of that was a lot of second and longs, second and 15s, second and 17s too many of those early in the game.”
Indiana hasn’t defeated Michigan since 1987, although two of the last three meetings in Bloomington have gone to overtime, with the Hoosiers falling 48-41 in double-overtime at Memorial Stadium in 2015 and 27-20 in overtime in 2017.
“We’ve had opportunities against Michigan the last few years I’ve been here and haven’t been able to finish those opportunities, much like Penn State in the past,” Allen said. “I told my team it’s not about what I believe … it’s what they believe, how they are going to prepare and how are they are going to perform on game day.”
Harbaugh is wary of the problems that Indiana presents on both sides of the football.
“They do a lot of things really well, defensively multiple looks, offensively very good quarterback, very good receivers, really good running back,” Harbaugh said. “Very physical team, fired up team, all the things we’ve seen year in year out from Indiana.”
–Field Level Media