Gourds are on mantles, pumpkin spice lattes are in hands, the leaves have changed from green to various combinations of orange, yellow or red and Indiana football played a really weird game against Michigan that ended in a loss.
In other words, Fall is back.
These two have some weird history. Last year’s matchup in Ann Arbor came as advertised and 2020’s game reached peak weird when it ended with a win for the Hoosiers.
However, 2019 is comparable. Indiana was close with Michigan throughout the first half before the Wolverines’ coaching staff adjusted and left the Hoosiers looking lost.
All that being said, here’s three things I noticed about this game.
Michigan’s coaching is very, very good
This is an obvious point, of course.
As one of the biggest brands in college athletics with the ability to find success in just about every given sport, Michigan has heaps of cash to hire the best coaches they can. Jim Harbaugh has won everywhere he’s been, and he has some great minds around him.
Indiana was able to hang around in the first half because they manufactured some zombie running game out of screen passes (hello Kalen DeBoer) and short routes to the perimeter with a few good runs mixed in.
Michigan saw that, didn’t like it, and decided to stop it.
The results speak for themselves. The Hoosiers went from outgaining the Wolverines 136-63 in the second quarter to gaining just 29 yards in the second half, when yards lost to sacks are accounted for.
Indiana didn’t have an answer. Michigan wore out the Hoosiers’ defense in the time of possession battle and capitalized with three touchdowns to put the game away.
The offensive line
The recurring theme of Indiana’s offensive line not being cut out for the Big Ten was on full display Saturday.
Michigan never really needed to do much to generate pressure, just your standard four to five man rushes without anything too crazy. To make matters worse, Connor Bazelak said they’d seen more exotic looks from the Wolverines in film.
That tells us a few things.
First, Michigan knew it didn’t need to get complex against Indiana because they were well aware that the Hoosiers couldn’t handle a standard pass rush. That’s not exactly a ringing endorsement of Indiana’s offensive line.
Second, it allowed Michigan to focus on coverage in the secondary/with their linebackers because everyone behind the defensive line knew that the big guys were gonna get the job done on Bazelak.
The offensive line continues to be a problem for Indiana and that won’t change anytime soon. Tom Allen was pretty forceful in his postgame press conference, saying that the offensive line’s performance has been disappointing and everyone “both players and coaches” needs to be held accountable.
I’ll let you read between the lines there.
Indiana’s in for a long season
The weird part about this game is how many guys Indiana was missing.
The Hoosiers were without guys like AJ Barner, Cam Jones and Jaylin Williams, all guys who’ve been starters and made contributions on the field. Jones is arguably the team’s best player, and now he’ll be out for multiple weeks with a foot injury, per IU sports information.
Indiana’s depth, and there isn’t a whole lot, is about to get tested against Maryland, a team they should reasonably be able to compete with in any given year and a murderer’s row of the old powers of the Big Ten East.
Buckle up, it’s gonna get bumpy.