Indiana coach Tom Allen doesn’t see any weaknesses when he evaluates No. 2 Michigan.
The Hoosiers have the unenviable task of trying to slow down the Wolverines, who have cruised to victories in their first six games, when they play Saturday afternoon in Ann Arbor, Mich.
“I think had Georgia maybe not played the way they did, (the Wolverines) could be No. 1 in the poll this week. They’ve definitely earned that discussion, for sure,” Allen said.
“So, a lot of respect for them in how they’re playing right now and very well-coached at all positions. But up front, their D-line and O-line, is where they’ve really established themselves. … We’ve just got to find a way to slow down this offense and give ourselves a chance.”
Michigan (6-0, 3-0 Big Ten) is returning home after two impressive conference road wins. The Wolverines disposed of Nebraska 45-7, then pounded Minnesota 52-10.
Quarterback J.J. McCarthy has completed 77.6 percent of his passes, including 11 touchdowns. He also has rushed for three touchdowns in the past two weeks. The offensive line has given McCarthy a clean pocket this season, as he has been sacked only three times.
Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh believes McCarthy belongs in the discussion with the reigning Heisman Trophy winner, quarterback Caleb Williams of Southern California.
“I made the comment after (the Minnesota game) that I thought J.J. was the best quarterback in the country,” Harbaugh said. “After the game, I had a chance to watch USC on the flight home. (Williams) is really good, too. I would say now you’re in the world of talking about, who’s better, Kobe (Bryant) or Michael (Jordan)? Or Peyton Manning (or) Tom Brady. They’re both really great.”
The Wolverines’ defense has been dominant, holding opponents to 40 total points, the fewest allowed by a Division I team this season. That unit ranks third nationally in yards allowed per game (233.3).
The Hoosiers (2-3, 0-2) are coming off a bye week. All but one of their losses came against ranked teams (Ohio State, Louisville), but they had their worst outing of the season in their last game, getting blown out 44-17 by unranked Maryland.
Allen decided to make a coaching change afterward, as Rod Carey replaced Walt Bell as the offensive coordinator.
“Obviously, needed a new voice in that room and that’s the change we made,” Allen said.
Tayven Jackson, who has been limited to two touchdown passes this season, has started at quarterback, but his hold on the job is precarious. Dexter Williams II, who suffered a serious knee injury late last season, is close to returning.
“Every passing week, even this past week, was another chance to continue to get closer and closer to be able to allow him to play,” Allen said. “That will be a good discussion for us as a staff and to kind of make that opportunity. So, I’d like to be able to ease him into that opportunity as well. So, we’ll see how that plays itself out.”
Michigan has historically dominated the series 61-10, winning 26 of the last 27 meetings. The Wolverines have yet to face a ranked opponent this season and that won’t change until next month, but Harbaugh (7-1 vs. Indiana) brushes aside critics of the team’s schedule.
“Whatever is being said, all that kind of thing, we’re just trying to get good at football,” Harbaugh said. “Don’t really pay too much attention to what’s been said, good or bad.”