Bloomington – Indiana might be off to a 3-0 start for just the 13th time in school history, but let's be honest about something.
There aren't very many people who think Indiana is going into "The Big House" Saturday afternoon and knocking off the 23rd-ranked Wolverines.
Sure, there are plenty who think the pre-game spread of 21 ½ points is a little excessive considering Michigan only won three games a year ago and their lone "quality" win this season came against a Notre Dame team that is (as usual) both overhyped and overrated. Those people probably expect this game to still be a game when the two teams return to the field for the second half.
But win? Indiana? Outside of the Memorial Stadium locker room, there aren't a whole lot of believers in the Hoosiers.
"People can say what they think we're going to do, but we know where we've been and where we're going," said senior defensive end Jammie Kirlew, one of only three players on IU's roster who made the last trip to Ann Arbor back in 2005.
"We know what we did in the off-season, we know what we're doing right now. So we just put (the lack of respect) aside and focus in on us and keep it in house and focus on what we're doing."
What they're doing is trying to remain unbeaten by winning in Ann Arbor for the first time since 1967. If they can do that, they'll not only take a giant step toward bowl eligibility, but they could be in line for a spot in the nation's Top 25 for the first time in 15 years when the polls come out next week.
Perhaps that's aiming a little too high for an Indiana football team that probably has more winnable games on paper, but offensive tackle Rodger Saffold doesn't necessarily think so.
"We don't want to stop here at 3-0 – we want to keep challenging ourselves to get to that next step," Saffold said. "We have to take each game as another step toward our goal. You can't say, ‘well, I'm going to win here, and win here, and win here' on your way. You want to win every game to make sure you get to the best possible place you can put yourself."
Indiana is also trying to downplay the significance of the game being against college football's winningest program in one of the game's most storied venues. This is the first time that most of IU's players have ventured into "The Big House", but IU Coach Bill Lynch said the fact IU opens its conference slate against the Wolverines and then the Ohio State Buckeyes doesn't add anything extra.
"Is there tremendous respect for them? Absolutely," Lynch said. "Are they great football programs? Yes. But every game in the Big Ten is huge. They all count the same."
They might all count the same, but they don't always mean the same. In the 60th meeting between the two schools, Indiana is trying to win for just the 10th time. A victory would suggest that perhaps there is something special going on in Bloomington this fall.
Could that, in fact, happen? Absolutely. In the first three weeks, Indiana has shown enough on both sides of the ball to suggest it is capable of playing with Michigan tomorrow afternoon.
But will it happen? Unfortunately, probably not.
Look for a closer-than-expected game Saturday, which Indiana can use as a confidence booster even if they do come up short. But Michigan's big-play ability on offense will likely be a little too much for the Hoosiers to overcome.
Hoosier Nation's Prediction: Michigan 27, Indiana 17
On Monday – Five Numbers to Note
On Tuesday – Four Names to Know
On Wednesday – Three Key Match-Ups
On Thursday – Two Big Concerns
On Friday – One Bold Prediction
MICHIGAN: One Day and Counting
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