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Michigan 36, Indiana 33: the day after.

Here are the stats.  I'm a bit surprised at how much the postgame chatter centers on the call at the end.  I do think it was a bad call, although SCM at Maize n Brew has a bunch of Zapruder film-quality cell phone photos that  conclusively prove that everyone else in the country is wrong.  I really don't care.  First, the play happened with two minutes remaining and 70 yards from the end zone.  Considering the way the IU offense moved the ball for most of the day, I would have loved to see what Chappell and the offense could have done with it, but Michigan probably would have won anyway.  The best way to avoid consequential bad calls is to put the game away if there is a chance to do so.  IU had those chances.

 

It's not an original thought, but of course the true story of the game is that IU, despite moving the ball well, was forced to settle for field goals on 4 of 5 trips to the end zone.  IU outgained Michigan 467 to 372 and averaged 6.0 yards per carry to Michigan's 3.0.  Certainly, big plays, both Darius Willis's 85 yard run and Michigan's multiple botched snaps, affected those numbers. 

Individual performances:

  • Darius Willis.  Willis's first meaningful playing time came against Akron last week, and he showed that his preseason reputation was well-deserved. If IU had held on for the win, his 85-yard touchdown run would have become one of the most storied plays in IU history.  Even subtracting out his 85 yard run, he averaged 4.6 yards on his other 15 carries. 
  • Tandon Doss.  After playing sparingly last year, Doss continues to impress.  He led IU with 104 receiving yards and added 41 yards on the ground, including a couple of nice gains on a triple option look that IU had not shown before.
  • I thought the offensive coaches had a nice gameplan and the aforementioned triple option twice exploited a weakness in the Michigan defense.
  • Max Dedmond, Terrence Turner, and Damarlo Belcher all made an impact.
  • Ben Chappell.  Chappell's completion percentage was a bit down, but he was competent against the best team the Hoosiers have played this season.

Maybe I will revisit this one in more detail as the week goes on, maybe I won't.  I don't want to assign more significance to the game than it deserves.  IU played well for most of the day and had a chance to win on the road against a ranked team in one of the most imposing venues in sport.  Still, this doesn't guarantee any future success anymore than IU's lackluster performance against Eastern Kentucky guaranteed that IU would fail to compete with Western Michigan, let alone Michigan.  IU last won a road game against a ranked team in 2004, at Oregon, and the Hoosiers won only one more game all year.  The last time that IU played a really close game in Ann Arbor was in 1996, when IU was in the middle of a 15 game conference losing streak. IU plays Ohio State next Saturday, and while I hope that IU can be every bit as competitive against OSU as against Michigan, I continue to think that the two games after that, the road trip to Virginia and the homecoming night game against Illinois, will set the course of the season.