Each week until the start of football season, we'll be going through Indiana's opponents one by one and looking at whatever we find interesting and/or hilarious about them. And as always, the kick was good. This week: Meeeeeeechigan
GAME 11: MICHIGAN WOLVERINES
Last year's record: 10-3
2015 Final F/+ Ranking: 8
Head Coach: Jim Harbaugh
Where: Michigan Stadium, Ann Arbor, MI
When: November 19, time TBA
1. Jim Harbaugh is fine and will probably win a lot of games at Michigan and that’s okay
It takes a special type of person to excel at Michigan – a coach who has the Michigan Man ideals of the sainted Bo Schembechler, but also has experienced past success at a high level. Before they took the Michigan coaching job, Brady Hoke had the former, while Rich Rodriguez had the latter. But neither could put everything together while at Ann Arbor, and ultimately both had unsuccessful tenures. Right now, I can only think of only two active coaches who fulfill both of these high standards that will satisfy all Michigan fans. One is Les Miles, while the other is Jim Harbaugh. Both are not your average college football coach, and Michigan is lucky to have the latter aboard.
What if, 30 years after you graduated college, you had obtained a high level of success in your profession and decided to come back to the town where you first began your journey? This seems to be what Harbaugh is doing right now, and he’s enjoying every minute of it. And who can blame him? After 4 years of guiding the San Francisco 49ers, the team let him go despite Harbaugh guiding them to their best record since the Steve Young days. (Good luck dealing with the Yorks, Chip Kelly.) And with Michigan finally deposing both Hoke and former AD Dave Brandon, the timing to go back to Ann Arbor was perfect for him in December 2014.
I know this opinion isn’t unanimous on CQ, but I enjoy college coach Harbaugh do his thing much more than when he was with the Niners. To me, Harbaugh is in the role he was born to take, back at a school where he starred at three decades ago, and he’s attacking it with enthusiasm unknown to mankind. And I can respect that. His promotion of satellite camps has been good for the sport overall, helping not only to expand the recruiting maps of his own school but many others. His Twitter account is highly amusing – he needles Nick Saban while hanging out with Judge Judy and Jerry Springer, and is as clued in to pop culture as you’d expect for a guy his age. His recruiting techniques are, shall we say, unconventional, and Kevin Wilson calls him “different.” Most likely his act will get old in a few years, but sports are supposed to be fun, and Harbaugh is a breath of fresh air in the college football coaching ranks right now.
And let’s face it – you know he secretly roots for IU hoops. We’ll get to him and Tom Crean later on.
2. Michigan’s schedule could give them a path to the CFP
Man, that’s a favorable schedule Michigan has. The Wolverines have 8 games in the Big House, including non-conference games against Hawaii, UCF, and Colorado that should not cause them any trouble. They leave the Mitten exactly once before mid-November, for a road game to Rutger – and since the Wolverines’ top 2016 recruit Rashaun Gary is from North Jersey and there’s a so-called recruiting “war” between the two schools, that one may even feel like a home game for Michigan. However, the Wolverines have three tough road games – at Michigan State, Iowa, and Ohio State – as part of their conference schedule. And with their weak non-con schedule, Michigan can only afford to lose one of these road games at most, hope not to lose the division on a tiebreaker, and then win against the B1G West champ in Indy, if they want to have any chance at a CFP berth.
Michigan will host Indiana in between those Iowa and Ohio State road games. So if they aren’t careful, the Hoosiers could come into the Big House and give them a run for their money.
3. Indiana came oh-so-close last season. What must they do this season to upset the Wolverines?
Of Indiana’s many close losses last season, the one against Michigan probably stung the most. Yes, even more than Rutger, Ohio State, or the Pinstripe Bowl, the Michigan loss was brutal because of how dang close Indiana was to winning that game outright. Wilson outcoached Harbaugh almost the entire game, Jordan Howard couldn't be stopped all afternoon, and the entire touchdown drive when IU went up 34-27 was a thing of glory. Of course, it wasn’t meant to be, but the double-OT loss gave fans hope that IU could slay the Michigan dragon for the first time since 1987. It’s a good thing my phone died immediately after I tweeted this post-game burn:
CONGRATS MICHIGAN FANS— GOLD QUARRY (@crimsonquarry) November 15, 2015
TOOK TWO OVERTIMES TO BEAT A 4-6 INDIANA TEAM
YOU SURE ARE "BACK"
As usual, it’s going to take a gargantuan effort for Indiana to upset Michigan, but I’m not counting it out either. Michigan loses Jake Rudock, who burned the IU defense last year. If John O’Korn isn't the answer for the Wolverines at QB, and the Hoosier secondary improves under Tom Allen, then the Hoosiers might have an easier time defending the pass. As mentioned, Howard did great in last year’s matchup, so Indiana will have to match his rushing output now that he’s gone, as well as get another great game from the quarterback and receivers. But when former Michigan defensive coordinator DJ Durkin left for the Maryland gig, Harbaugh replaced him with Don Brown, who ran one of the top FBS defenses at Boston College last season. So that side of the ball might be able to slow down the Hoosier attack, particularly redshirt sophomore Jabrill Peppers, who claims he’ll play TEN positions this year.
The Big House doesn’t look like a daunting environment from the outside. However, I went to Ann Arbor three years ago and watched IU lose 63-47 during a Michigan down year where attendance wasn’t quite at the level where it will likely be this season. From personal experience, going up against 110,000 opposing fans in that building is an intimidating feeling for a fan, so I can hardly imagine what it’s like for the athletes. But if the Hoosiers can overcome Michigan Stadium, and get a little lucky along the way, they’re equipped to pull this upset off.
4. This GIF will never get old
5. Let’s remember some Wolverines
- Tim Biakabutuka
- Drew Henson
- Chris Perry
- Braylon Edwards
- Tate Forcier (#QBFORCE)
- Tom Brady
6. Let’s hear from our readers
This year during the NCAA Tournament, we hypothesized that Tom Crean and the Harbaugh Brothers have wrestling matches in an undisclosed basement called The Bone Pit. That prompted this week’s reader question:
here is our weekly football question— GOLD QUARRY (@crimsonquarry) August 11, 2016
if tom crean and jim harbaugh were a pro wrestling tag team, what would their nickname be?
Here were your best submissions:
And our winner:
Next week for our final summer preview: THE BUCKET GAME