Indiana has done it again. A couple of weeks after shocking the world by beating a ranked Penn State team in the season opener, the No. 13 Hoosiers took down No. 23 Michigan 38-21 on Saturday afternoon. The win improves the Hoosiers to 3-0 and drops the Wolverines to 1-2.
Unlike Indiana’s win over Penn State in which the Hoosiers were outplayed in a few areas and needed some Nittany Lions mistakes plus a late rally to pull off the upset, IU dominated Michigan from the start in this one.
The Hoosiers jumped out to a 7-0 lead midway through the first quarter when quarterback Michael Penix Jr. found Miles Marshall for a 13-yard touchdown. The pass came on a free play, which was a consistent theme in the first half. Indiana has used a hard count to induce an offside penalty on Michigan an astounding five times. However, the Hoosiers have only accepted three of them because they scored touchdowns on two of those plays.
Penix finished the day with 342 yards passing and three touchdowns. Ty Fryfogle caught seven balls for 142 yards and a score, while Whop Philyor continually helped move the chains with 11 receptions for 79 yards. Stevie Scott rushed for 97 yards and two touchdowns as the Indiana offense averaged 5.2 yards per play and totaled 460 yards on the afternoon.
As for Michigan, there’s not a lot to feel good about. QB Joe Milton threw for 344 yards and three touchdowns but completed only 18 of 24 passes and had two interceptions. Perhaps even more alarming, Michigan managed only 13 rushing yards on 18 carries. Even after you adjust for yards lost to sacks (of which Indiana had three), the Wolverines averaged only 2.2 yards per carry.
Here’s my three takeaways from Indiana’s massive win at home.
1. Harbaugh Hot Seat will start boiling
I’ve long been on the record that I do not believe Michigan is going to fire coach Jim Harbaugh. Certainly not in a season like this one, in which the program has had to navigate its way through the COVID-19 pandemic. Still, at no point was I under the impression that Michigan would be losing to rival Michigan State and follow that up with its first loss to Indiana since 1987.
Even so, while there’s been plenty of talk about Harbaugh’s future at Michigan, most of the talk about Harbaugh being on the hot seat has come from outside the program. Maybe that will change following this loss or maybe it won’t. But the talk is only going to grow louder, and at some point, the Wolverines may begin listening.
2. Don Brown’s job is in jeopardy
As I said, I don’t think Harbaugh is in danger of being fired. I can’t say the same about defensive coordinator Don Brown. Brown came to Michigan from Boston College in 2016, Harbaugh’s second season. He replaced D.J. Durkin, who had left to take the top job at Maryland. Since coming to Ann Arbor, Brown’s defenses have been some of the best in the country on an annual basis, but they continually came up short in Michigan’s biggest games, usually against Ohio State.
Now in 2020, it looks like Michigan’s defense is playing Ohio State every week. During the loss to Michigan State last week, the Wolverines were unable to pressure Spartans QB Rocky Lombardi, and MSU routinely picked on UM’s defensive backs. Michigan State was completing deep passes or drawing flags on Michigan’s DBs.
Saturday against Indiana was an encore performance. The Wolverines weren’t able to generate consistent pressure on Penix, and time and again, he found open receivers or drew pass interference calls on Michigan with deep throws. Indiana also drew Michigan offsides numerous times to add insult to injury, as it was clear Michigan was trying to get a head start on the snap to make up for its lack of a pass-rush.
It was a sloppy performance all around for the Wolverines defense. If somebody in Ann Arbor is going to lose their job, I’d bet on it being Brown before Harbaugh.
3. Hey, Indiana is 3-0!
It’s going to get lost in the shuffle of the Michigan situation, and no disrespect for that, but Indiana might be pretty good! It deserve credits! There was the season-opening win over Penn State that could have been written off as something of a fluke victory considering how heavily the box score tilted Penn State’s way, but it counted as a win in the standings all the same. Then last week, IU beat Rutgers, but you’re never going to get a lot of credit for beating Rutgers.
But how about beating Michigan and Penn State in the same season? And doing so convincingly against the Wolverines! Prepare yourselves for an Indiana team that might find itself ranked in the top 10 when the new top 25 rankings come out on Sunday afternoon.
We’re only three weeks into a shortened Big Ten season, and with both Penn State and Michigan sitting on two losses, Indiana has itself set up as Ohio State’s primary competition for the Big Ten East division crown. What a time to be alive.