Indiana came to play, give the Hoosiers that. After an initial three-and-out, Indiana got its offense on track and controlled the first quarter of Saturday’s game against Michigan. When the Hoosiers cashed in on a 44-yard touchdown pass from Donaven McCulley to Jaylin Lucas with just over two minutes to play in the quarter, Tom Allen’s charges not only held a 7-0 lead, but were also dominating the stat sheet. Indiana held the advantage in total yards (141 to negative eight), total plays (22-6) and first downs (7-0).
After the game, Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh said he wasn’t surprised by Indiana’s strong start. “Every year we play them,” Harbaugh said of the Hoosiers, “they are well prepared and ready to roll. This year was no different.” Indiana always seems to give Michigan fits. Was this the season the Hoosiers would break through?
In a word, no.
It didn’t take long for the second-ranked Wolverines to look the part and right the ship. “You’re going to get punched,” Michigan’s sophomore tight end Colston Loveland said after the game, “It’s all about how you answer back.” Michigan’s answer was emphatic.
Behind junior quarterback J.J. McCarthy, Michigan rolled off 52 consecutive points and rolled to a 52-7 victory. The first 21 of those points were scored in the second quarter. By the time the second quarter was over, Michigan had wrested control of both the scoreboard and the stat sheet. The second half would be more of the same, as the Wolverines shut down the Hoosiers and romped to a 45-point victory.
On a rain-soaked day, McCarthy shined. The junior signal-caller completed 14 of 17 passes for 222 yards and three touchdowns in less than three quarters of action - passing Jim Harbaugh for career passing yards in the process. “He’s special,” Harbaugh said of McCarthy. “A once-in-a-generation quarterback.”
On the other side of the ball, the Michigan defense put the clamps on the Indiana offense. The Wolverines held the Hoosiers to just 81 yards and no points over the final three quarters, while registering four turnovers for the game.
Indiana head coach Tom Allen said of the Wolverines, “They physically wear you down, without question. Because of their size up front on both sides of the ball. It takes its toll as the game wears on.” It certainly took its toll on the Hoosiers.
Saturday’s game was the latest in a string of dominating performances for a Michigan team that’s playing as well as any in the nation. The victory was Michigan’s 18th consecutive conference win. It was also its tenth consecutive game scoring at least 30 points - a school record.
McCarthy told reporters after the game that neither he nor his teammates are caught up in numbers - or in proving to others that they belong at the top of the polls. “We’re not out here trying to prove anything to anyone other than ourselves.”
So far this season, McCarthy and the Wolverines are doing a pretty good job of accomplishing both.