Michigan 42, Indiana 35: more postgame discussion.

Here are the stats.  The game played out much as most of us expected.  The team that scored last won.  My concern was that IU's offense would not in any way match its preconference numbers, and obviously that concern was not warranted.  On the other hand, IU's defense turned out to be as bad as advertised.  That's not to point the finger at the defense and blame that unit for the loss.  It's been obvious since long before the season started that the offense would have to carry most of the load for this team.  They have done so, but Michigan punted on four of its first five possessions in the second half, but IU managed only 7 points during that stretch, the same as Michigan.  That's not to minimize the poor defense.  IU allowed 574 yards and 12.8 yards per play.  Michigan scored a lot and scored fast.  All of the Wolverines' six scoring drives were 69 yards or longer, but only one took more than four plays.  IU never tackled Robinson (or anyone else) for a loss.

The offense, of course, stood out.  After some struggles early in the game and his first interception of the game, Ben Chappell found his footing and matched his average completion percentage of 70.  He averaged a smaller-than-usual but sufficient 7.5 yards per attempts, and the Hoosiers managed a school record 37 first downs.  With all this, the most surprising statistic is that the teams managed to punt a combined 9 times (r for Michigan 4 for IU).  Performances of note:

  • Chappell was 45-64 for 480 yards and 3 TD to 1 INT.  He was sacked twice.
  • IU's overall running numbers were not great, but the running offense wasn't a total disaster.  Darius Willis ran 18 times for 59 yards and scored two rushing touchdowns (he also caught 7 passes for 53 yards and a TD). 
  • Tandon Doss played the game of his career, catching 15 passes for 221 yards.  He also ran 6 times for 21 yards.
  • Damarlo Belcher caught 10 balls for 91 yards and Terrance Turner caught 7 for 56.  Duwyce Wilson  caught 3 balls for 22 yards, including his first career touchdown.

Where does this leave us?  I'm not inclined to take any sort of moral victory from this loss.  IU fans filled the stadium and created a great atmosphere, and it was a fun and competitive game, but this was IU's 15th loss in its last 17 Big Ten games.  The 2009 season began much the same way, with a competitive loss to Michigan, and for all the halftime leads and encouraging play, IU's only win the rest of the season was against a horrid Illinois team.  In 2010 IU does have another non-conference game that should get the Hoosiers to 4 wins, but this defense gives the offense little margin for error.  We have only two remaining Big Ten home games (Northwestern and Iowa).  Before this weekend, I was mad about the brainless decision to sell the Penn State game.  After seeing how the Nittany Lions struggled against Iowa, I'm over the edge about it.  Yes, this is a talented and exciting offense, but most of Cam Cameron's teams featured talented and exciting offenses.  It's time to win.  Is it time this week?  Well, IU travels to Columbus on Saturday to play the #2 Buckeyes, so it's fairly unlikely.  This team's fate will be decided in late October against Illinois and Northwestern.

More on the Buckeyes as the week continues.

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