After beating Michigan, IU seeking to double up on Michigan State


Now that Indiana has disposed of Michigan, the Hoosiers are hoping they can pull a Joe Biden and sweep the state by beating Michigan State this Saturday.

While Tom Allen knows how to keep a level head in a crisis, he also knows when it is time to celebrate, so he did revel in IU’s heck-of-a-long-time-coming victory over the Wolverines.

The first thing Allen said after his team’s win registered was “Wow!” As an indicator of how much it bugged Allen that the Hoosiers had gone 0-24 against Michigan since 1987 (not all under him, of course) was his declaration that he was “determined” to get those guys.

In a truncated, under-a-cloud football season, the Hoosiers may be on their way to a season for the ages. They are 3-0 heading into Michigan II to face the 1-2 Spartans.

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The Hoosiers are ranked No. 10 in the The Associated Press weekly college football poll. And they deserve it after besting Penn State, Rutgers and Michigan in the Big Ten, two of the three ranked themselves at the time.

Indiana beat Michigan on offense and defense and the score of 38-21 was no exaggeration of reality, no nail-biter. Michigan was favored, though it shouldn’t have been. There was just too much negative history accumulated for the oddsmakers to ignore.

Will the Hoosiers go undefeated? Who knows? How many people believed they would be undefeated at this stage of the season? No one thinks IU is a fluke anymore, even if football experts are still mulling just how good they really are.

“I just can’t be any more proud of a group of young men than I am right now of this team,” Allen said post-Michigan. “Just their toughness, grit and fight has been unbelievable. The way they play from start to finish.”

That last phrase was a key one. One of IU’s flaws over Allen’s first few seasons was an inability to finish. He mentioned it perhaps a million times. He stressed over and over how important it was for the Hoosiers to sustain their play until the final gun.

Well, this year they finish. They have finished off three opponents and they have secured the results with more authority each week.

“We challenged them about starting fast and finishing strong,” Allen said. “Man, that is exactly what we did.”

Even if paying customers are not allowed to fill Memorial Stadium in Bloomington, or other Big Ten venues, all eyes seem to be on quarterback Michael Penix Jr. as he appears to be maturing before television eyeballs.

Penix passed for 342 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions. Running back Stevie Scott III ran for 97 yards and scored two touchdowns. Enough balance to keep the Wolverines off-balance.

Michigan’s O was QB Joe Milton. Yes, he threw for 344 yards and three touchdowns, but he also tossed two interceptions and the Wolverines’ rushing game was uncharacteristically ineffective. Michigan’s leading ball carrier totaled 19 yards on the ground. What would Bo Schembechler think?

Fact is, the Hoosiers are morphing into a stronger defensive 11, as well. They are giving up points, but demoralizing foes with take-aways. Those turnovers will get you every time.

“We are one group, one unit,” said IU cornerback Jaylin Williams.

This success is too fresh for the Hoosiers to become overconfident against anyone. Being ranked in the top 10 is new territory to anyone who only thinks of Biden as being some senator from little Delaware.

The last time the Hoosiers were 3-0 was 1988. Oh, they started 4-0 in 1987 and 5-0 in 1967.

It’s been a long time since IU fans have had it this good. They would be mobbing the stadium for standing room only if not for the COVID-19 pandemic keeping them away.

There must be some long-time, loyal fans who have had season tickets since those past grand stretches shaking their heads over the irony that the Hoosiers are finally playing like this and they are being locked out of the building.

Those fans probably will be happier than Biden was with a Michigan statement if Indiana tops Michigan State. Not only will the Hoosiers claim possession of the Old Brass Spittoon for a year, they will see another bump in their own version of the Electoral College — that AP poll.

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