LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The voters in the AP media and USA Today coaches’ college football polls have accepted Indiana as a Top-25 team after the first two weeks of the IU season.
Ditto for ESPN’s Football Power Index, which slotted coach Tom Allen’s program at No. 18 this week.
Guess who does not believe that Indiana belongs near the heavyweights yet?
The betting line in Las Vegas is a reflection of several things but primarily public sentiment. Oddsmakers select a point spread they believe will attract an equal amount of money on both teams.
On Saturday at noon in Memorial Stadium in Bloomington, IU will play host to Michigan.
The Hoosiers (2-0), followed their upset win over Penn State by defeating Rutgers. Michigan (1-1) lost to Michigan State, which lost to Rutgers, which lost to Indiana.
On Sunday afternoon, the IU-Michigan line opened with the Wolverines, the road team, favored by three. It increased to 3 1/2 and then 4. By 2:30 p.m. Monday, it was back to 3 1/2.
Make a note: The wise guys believe Michigan is better.
Guess what? The Wolverines likely are.
Starting with the Class of 2017, the true seniors playing in this game, Michigan’s recruiting classes were ranked No. 5, No. 22, No. 8 and No. 14 nationally by 247Sports.
The rankings for Indiana’s last four classes, starting with the seniors, were No. 62, No. 50, No. 36 and No. 57.
Before he agreed to accept a 10% pay cut because of the novel coronavirus, Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh was reportedly in line to make $8.05 million. In 2019, Harbaugh’s defensive coordinator, Dom Brown, earned $1.5 million, while his offensive coordinator, Josh Gattis, earned $1.1 million.
Those three earn considerably more than the entire Indiana staff.
Then there is the small matter of history. Michigan has won 24 straight over the Hoosiers. The Wolverines have actually won 39 of 40, starting in 1968. Including last season’s 39-14 victory, 26 of those Michigan wins were by two touchdowns or more.
Indiana faced a similar serving of futility (1-21) before the overtime victory against Penn State on Oct. 24.
On Monday, I asked Allen, an irrepressible optimist, if this was merely sportswriter talk, or if the IU coaching staff had to create a belief in the players that the Hoosiers could actually defeat Michigan (considering no IU players were alive when it last happened Oct. 24, 1987).
“It’s definitely sportswriter talk,” Allen said. “It’s going to be talked about quite a bit. The record is what it is.
“We talk about things pretty openly and honestly in our program. This year in fall camp, (I’ve) been challenging our guys about the way they think. I’m always a big believer in mindset. We talk about that all the time.
“But more specifically, we talk about the past not being predictive. I don’t believe it is, unless you don’t change what you do on a daily basis. Then it will become predictive.
“Just to assume it’s going to be predictive just because it’s always been that way is what people will talk about. They’ll give the stats. The past is real.
“But it’s not predictive unless you don’t do something to change it. So to me, it’s what you do next. We talk about that as a football team.
“The bottom line is it’s about us playing our best football. To me, that’s the focus. We haven’t done that yet. I feel like we’ve had opportunities since I’ve been here against Michigan and haven’t been able to finish those opportunities. Much like with Penn State in the past.
“Like I told our team again this morning, it doesn’t matter what I believe. I told them what I believe. It’s what they believe and how are they going to prepare and ultimately how are they going to perform on game day. That’s what matters …
“We’re in a position here that I expected us to be in. And talked about being in even the last couple of years. Now it’s here. We have to continue to elevate our focus. Elevate our attention to detail. Elevate our preparation process.
“Which is why our one word this week is elevate. To me that’s that we’ve got to be able to do to create a different outcome than we have seen in the past.”
Indiana silenced the wise guys once. The wise guys don’t believe Indiana can do it again.
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