Greetings from Ann Arbor. It’s the final Big Ten road trip of the 2018 season, and Michigan Stadium is a wonderful place to end. Indiana and Michigan are playing another odd football game, which is extremely on brand. It should only get weirder. Here is what I’m thinking at halftime:
Indiana has given itself a chance
Holding the opposition to three field goals instead of three touchdowns is a solid strategy against anyone. But for Indiana, on the road at No. 4 Michigan, it’s exactly what the Hoosiers needed to do. Let’s face it: this IU defense is young, has lapses, and lacks the proven talent of Michigan’s offense. It will give the Wolverines yards, just like it gave Maryland’s rushing game 353 yards. But the Hoosiers have proved tougher defensively in the redzone yet again here in Ann Arbor — forcing Michigan to kick three short field goals and keep the first half very close.
But will it be enough? Again, Indiana was 28-point underdogs coming into this game. Its odds are bleak, and IU’s offense has been inconsistent again today. This is the nation’s best defense, Michigan is. Indiana’s defense has given itself a chance to at least be competitive today, but will its offense be effective enough to keep it that way?
How aggressive has IU been?
Aggressive enough. And that’s while dealing with a Michigan defense that has made Ramsey’s pocket very short-lived today. After dinking-and-dunking early, Ramsey found Timian for 30 yards and Westbrook for a 40-yard play on the same drive. Remember, this is the nation’s best passing defense and allows an average of 116 yards per game. Ramsey has already thrown for 105 yards in a half.
I wrote about this yesterday, the fact that Indiana wants, and needs to play aggressive against Michigan in order to stand an actual chance. It’s done that via 4th-down attempts and throwing the ball downfield. It’s also helped that Stevie Scott has forced Michigan to respect the run. Scott has 17 carries for 96 yards in that first half, including a 13-yard touchdown — the game’s only touchdown. He also broke loose for a 35-yard scamper and is the key to IU’s consistency offensively.
How about that ending?
Devon Matthews, man. The true freshman absolutely stood up Michigan’s 6-foot-5, 251-pound tight end Sean McKeon at the goal line. The Wolverines did not own any timeouts and time expired — with Matthews saving points on the play. The Hoosiers were as animated as they have been all season, sprinting into the tunnel to the chorus of Michigan Stadium boos. Those are the plays that win games in Ann Arbor, as rare as it is. And the Hoosiers are riding high on an impressive first half, plus the fact of receiving the second half kickoff. This one is going to the wire, at least in my mind. Either way, Indiana came to play — and backed up Allen’s talk all week.