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Posted on Thu, Sep 30, 2010 : 6:01 a.m.

One year later, the Michigan-Indiana football game has a familiar feel

By Pete Bigelow

The high-flying offenses are the same. The undefeated records are the same. So are the suspect defenses.

Is Saturday’s game between the Michigan football team and Indiana a repeat of last year’s matchup?

The Wolverines rallied for a 36-33 victory in last year’s barnburner. Hoosiers coach Bill Lynch thinks his opponent is even more daunting this time around (Saturday, 3:30 p.m., ESPNU) because of quarterbacks Denard Robinson, Tate Forcier and Devin Gardner.


Indiana quarterback Ben Chappell, the Big Ten's leading passer in 2009, again leads the conference with an average of 296.7 passing yards through three games.

Associated Press

“Last game, a Heisman guy goes out, and they bring in the next two and it doesn’t slow down a bit,” Lynch said of Michigan’s three-headed quarterback rotation against Bowling Green.

Not only haven’t the Wolverines (4-0) slowed down, they’ve sped up.

Through the first four games of the 2009 season, Michigan’s offense averaged 37.5 points per game and 422.2 yards per game. In 2010, it’s 41.2 points per game and 562.8 yards.

Through the first four games of 2009, Michigan scored touchdowns on 67 percent of its red-zone trips. In 2010, they’re red hot, scoring TDs 89 percent of the time from inside the 20-yard line. Michigan’s current third-down conversion percentage of 57.4 is third-best in the country.

“This year, the team is executing pretty well,” Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez said. “Not that we don’t have some issues. We do. We’re not completely where we want to be, not close to where we’re going to be eventually.”

The lingering issues remain on defense for the Wolverines.

Last year, the defense allowed 22.8 points per game through four games. This year, it’s 23.0. That’s not as much a concern as the 400 yards per game the 2010 defense is allowing.

Eight true freshmen have played for the Wolverines defense, including five in the secondary, so Rodriguez expected some degree of struggle.

“We’re not deep enough or strong enough to dominate somebody, and hold them to seven first down and three points,” he said. “But that’s the goal. … They’ve had some tough moments this season, but also a lot of good moments.”

The secondary will have its hands full against Indiana quarterback Ben Chappell, the Big Ten’s leading passer in 2009 who again leads the conference with an average of 296.7 passing yards through three games.

Overall, Indiana has the second-ranked scoring offense in the Big Ten, averaging 41.3 points per game.

“I think we’ve been efficient,” Lynch said. “We haven’t turned the ball over much, and that’s huge. That goes to Ben being a real good decision-maker.”

Lynch said he felt like the Hoosiers (3-0) enter the matchup as a better team than last year.

“But I think they are too,” he said. “That’s the one thing that happens. We know more about our team now … we’re a more mature team. … But now everything changes.”

Pete Bigelow can be reached at (734) 623-2556 or e-mailed at Follow him on Twitter @PeterCBigelow.


Sean T.

Sat, Oct 2, 2010 : 6:50 a.m.

It does look good for us but rating Indiana by beating a so called "weak" Akron team may be a mistake. All of Akron's opponents have winning records except for one, who is 2-2. Akron has a new Head Coach who has a impressive track record but is running new offensive and defensive schemes. We must spread the ball around and keep Indy from running effectively on us to win.


Fri, Oct 1, 2010 : 3:42 a.m.

Remember Michigan plays a Prevent D as their basic package. The 335 is Poor against the run, and Poor against the short pass. When D backs lead the team in tackles that a real bad sign.


Thu, Sep 30, 2010 : 8:21 p.m.

I see our defense stopping them at least a few times (they suck, but they always get a few). I see our offense being stopped way less. The more calm person in me says michigan wins it with some defense improvement (they could focus on nothing but pass d all week, plus its the 5th game). However, i'm still nervous.


Thu, Sep 30, 2010 : 7:57 p.m.

I agree with Michboy...I saw a pathetic Akron team run all over IU. If they can do it, certainly Robinson can. Granted, IU will score some points, but they won't score as consistently as UM will. I'm looking at UM winning 52-35


Thu, Sep 30, 2010 : 6:38 p.m.

I watched Indiana play Akron last weekend and I don't see how they hang with us. They will have some big plays and score some points, but we will get enough pressure to keep it comfortable. 49-31


Thu, Sep 30, 2010 : 2:48 p.m.

Mich better get their D squared away, Or wisc & the luckeyes will shred them.

Robbie Webb.

Thu, Sep 30, 2010 : 1:22 p.m.

The only weak part about our defense is the secondary. And we'll see alot of the 3-3-5 lineup as they have a good spread offense. Starting next week we'll go back to a four man front, and we'll have to. If our secodary can at least be SOLID this weekend and force one or two turnovers then we should easily win, if not, it will most certainly be a shootout. They're getting better in the backfield. They're still young and without our most experienced player back there.


Thu, Sep 30, 2010 : 12:43 p.m.

@saintd I don't agree about the Denard getting 38-39 carries, in fact I think it would be downright foolish. Not that it wouldn't be successful, but putting Denard out there THAT many times is really asking for it, especially when at some point it will be much wiser for Denard to pass. When the defense is entirely focused on stopping him, which they would be if he was getting 30+ carries, the passing lanes should be wide open. I would like to see Denard run the ball 15 times and throw it 35-40 times. If teams start seeing him putting up huge passing yards, there will literally be no stopping this offense. On a side note, I got this idea from a poster on the ESPN boards, and am ashamed to not have posted about it myself: I hope Rich Rod puts Mr. Robinson and Air Forcier on the field at the same time. Put Denard out wide (like the QB in wildcat offense), and have Tate take the snaps from the shotgun. Put Denard in motion and let unstoppable calamity ensue. There's no limit to how creative you could make the plays, and if you do it 1-2 times a game, chances are teams won't be able to stop it. I'm talking deceptive, trick plays with those 2 talented QB's on the field. Maybe Rich Rod will unveil it in Big Ten play.


Thu, Sep 30, 2010 : 12:34 p.m.

Logically, it looks like UM is going to give up lots of yards and lots of points to Indiana (and every team, unfortunately). At some point, the defense has to click on another level if Michigan is going to be successful. The problem is we don't have any speed in our secondary. Look at that 71-yard screen pass Bowling Green got on us. Kovacs takes a bad angle, gets blocked, and no one has a chance of catching the guy. If random Bowling Green wide-outs can outrun our defense, it's hard to be optimistic about them improving, but it's not out of the picture. I'm hoping for an inspired defense that gets 3.0-4.0 sacks and consistent pressure, it will be vital to slow down teams this year. As for the young guys, they need to play much more fundamentally sound: taking better angles, not being out of position, and wrapping up ball carriers. At the very least we have to slow down the run. If you allow a team to do whatever they want whenever they want, you get thrown off balance and have no shot at stopping them.


Thu, Sep 30, 2010 : 11:50 a.m.

No way DRob comes out of this game. He won't be able to. IU will pick apart this defense and the Offense will have to go right back out there an put up more points. The key for this game will be Time of Possession. If we play like we did against UConn, with punishing, methodical drives down the field, that will keep our defense fresh and their offense sitting. We'll win handily in that case. If we play like we have the past 2 weeks, then it's probably whomever has the ball last wins the game. While I've already picked Michigan on the Pigskin Picks, I won't be shocked by an IU win. Their offense is will take advantage of the weakest part of our defense.


Thu, Sep 30, 2010 : 11:37 a.m.

I hope it does not go like tulsatom predicts. With Indiana being more one dimensional, heavy pass, I think we will blitz more and get to the QB a few times. With both teams able to score quickly, there will be many positions for each team. We will stop them a few times and we will score at will. I like a 49-30 score.


Thu, Sep 30, 2010 : 11:21 a.m.

Michigan will probably light up the scoreboard against IU's defense to the tune of 50 to 60 points. But the big question for this game is IU's offensive line against our defensive front. After playing three cupcakes, I have no idea how good IU's O line is this season. If we're able to get penetration with well-timed blitzes and knock Chappell around a bit, Michigan could win this game by 20 to 30 points. If Chappell has all day to throw, it will be a close game.


Thu, Sep 30, 2010 : 9:43 a.m.

I hope you're right, Blue Marker. If the defense can come of age and hold off Big Ten competition, that would the difference between U-M being a middle-of-the-road team to a very good one.

Blue Marker

Thu, Sep 30, 2010 : 8:50 a.m.

@tulsatom, I hope you're prediction is wrong. If UM gives up 49 to IU then we're in more trouble than I thought. I think the D will surprise you and pressure the QB most the day. I like UM 45 - IU 28.


Thu, Sep 30, 2010 : 8:12 a.m.

I think it will be a 52-49 kind of game with both teams scoring virtually at will, with the difference being a missed field goal or a careless fumble, or something to that effect. Neither team will be able to stop the other. The final score might rival this year's Michigan-Indiana basketball game. Therefore, the pressure will be on D-Rob and the rest of the offense to score touchdowns every time they have the ball.


Thu, Sep 30, 2010 : 8:06 a.m.

I totally agree the Michigan D really needs talent and experience, and is a liability. But let's see where Indiana is after they play somebody besides Towson, W KY, and Akron.


Thu, Sep 30, 2010 : 7:29 a.m.

I'm thinking that even if Denard does not run up a big lead, that Coach will pull him and let Tate and Devin QB to ensure that Denard does not get hurt. We'll still get big offensive numbers and give especially Devin some more experience.


Thu, Sep 30, 2010 : 7:18 a.m.

Last year means absolutely nothing...even if the exact same players that played last year were playing in this game. That's just the nature of sports.


Thu, Sep 30, 2010 : 7:01 a.m.

If you think 28 or 29 carries is a lot for d-rob guess again. I predict he will carry the ball about 38 or 39 times a game if need be and take it home for blue. In fact the only way michigan has a close game is when they try to incorporate other people and positions into the mix. I say if you got a horse than get on his back and let him run! Go blue!!!!