After beating Penn State and Rutgers, Indiana University’s football team was voted No. 13 in the weekly The Associated Press rankings, the highest rating for the Hoosiers since 1987.
IU beat then No. 8 Penn State, 36-25, on Oct. 24, to open its season and then topped Rutgers, 37-21, last Saturday in Big Ten play.
The win over the Nittany Lions propelled Indiana into the poll at No. 17 and the Hoosiers moved up four slots by going to 2-0 on the year. This is the first time since 1991 IU is 2-0 to begin a season. The Hoosiers are tied with Ohio State for first place in the conference.
IU next plays Michigan, Saturday, in Bloomington. The Wolverines are ranked No. 23 and are favored over the Hoosiers. Indiana has not defeated Michigan since 1987 and that partially explains why the lower-ranked team is still favored.
In a university press conference Monday, Allen referred to the Michigan game as a “big challenge. We’re going to have to keep getting better.”
He by no means believes IU played perfect games to reach 2-0. Of the Rutgers victory, Allen said, “It was sloppier than I would liked it to have been, but there were a lot of positives. We have not played our best football yet.”
Allen did not sound surprised Michigan is favored to win, but he spent time reviewing how far the previously downtrodden Hoosiers have come since last year when they finished 8-5. He said the deep-down turnaround began when IU won close games over Maryland, Nebraska and Purdue.
In the past, as Allen has said many times, IU found ways not to win. Now the Hoosiers are finding ways to finish and capture the close ones.
“You start expecting to win those games,” he said.
Allen understands the long drought versus Michigan is real.
“The record is what it is,” he said. “It’s going to be talked about quite a bit.” However, he tells the players about “the past not being predictive. It’s what you do next.”
Allen was not exuding great energy over being ranked so high this week.
“We want to win the Big Ten championship,” he said. “That’s the most tangible thing you can put out there.”