September 25, 2003
Bloomington, Ind. - For the first time in three seasons, Indiana and Michigan will battle on Saturday. The two teams have not faced one another since the 2000 season in Ann Arbor, where the Wolverines walked away with a 58-0 win. Both teams enter the match-up coming off losses last weekend, Michigan fell to Oregon, while the Hoosiers lost to Kentucky.
"We have yet to play our best in all four quarters," Indiana head coach Gerry DiNardo said. "We have the same objectives we have every week. I think the turnover and kicking battles are critical. We'll have to be better in third-down conversions this week than we were against Kentucky. I don't think the answer to beating Michigan is any different than the answer to beating anyone else. You have to play the game at a more efficient level than the opponent."
The Hoosiers have played a total of 66 players this season, including 22 freshmen. New faces have factored heavily into Indiana's plans as evident by the fact that a total of 12 true freshmen have already seen game action. Freshmen have a total of nine starts for the Hoosiers this season. The Wolverines have 39 seniors that have made 287 starts during their career.
"It's a pretty well established program when you can't break into the lineup until you are a junior (like Michigan), and some of those juniors are fourth-year juniors," DiNardo said. "We focus on first-and-10 efficiency, and we emphasize that and improve that. Third-down conversion may go south in one game, and we emphasize that and improve that. What experience does is put that all in perspective. There is no way you can practice everything every week. What happens when a player is confronted with something in a game he hasn't worked on recently? He goes back to his experiences. I think this is a big part of what it is all about."
The Wolverines' home stadium, Michigan Stadium, seats over 111,000. The "Big House," as it is called is a tough place to play as Michigan's all-time record is 369-103-15 at the Big House. The Hoosiers have not won at Michigan Stadium since 1967.
"I haven't thought about it," Indiana sophomore offensive lineman Adam Hines said about playing at Michigan Stadium. "You really can't worry about it. The game is going to come and you have to show up and play. You can't worry about things you can't control. We have talked about that in practice, you need to control the little things. Control your technique and your steps. We can't help if we are playing against 10,000 or 100,000. Saturday is going to be here in six days, and you have to go out and play."
Indiana is 28-73-4 in Big Ten openers. The Hoosiers are 6-14 in Big Ten road openers since the current scheduling structure of non-conference games prior to conference action.
Michigan leads the all-time series 46-9 and has won the last 11 meetings and 26 of the last 27. The last Hoosier victory came in 1987 (14-10) at Memorial Stadium. Not one current Hoosier was older than seven years old the last time IU posted a win in the series. Indiana is 7-33 on the road against the Wolverines and has dropped the last 13 road games. The Hoosiers last won in Ann Arbor in 1967 (27-20).
Three Indiana players hail from the state of Michigan. Defensive lineman Jodie Clemons calls Lansing home. Brandon Hatcher and Marlin Lynch both hail from Detroit. Clemons is the only one of the three Michigan players expected to see action.
In comparing these two teams experience is one of the key differences. Of Michigan's starting 22 players just one has less than two years of experience. On the opposite side, of Indiana's 22 starters, 10 players have less than two years experience. Indiana has four seniors in its starting 22 while Michigan has 12, including seven fifth-year seniors.
Entering Saturday's contest with a 3-1 overall record are the Michigan Wolverines.
Michigan gets the job done on both sides of the ball and has been one of the elite teams in college football this year. The Wolverines enter Saturday's game ranked seventh nationally in total offense and seventh in total defense. The Wolverines also rank in the top 10 nationally in scoring offense (9th - 40.0 ppg) and scoring defense (6th - 10.3 points allowed per game).
DiNardo on Michigan
"Michigan is really a veteran team. I counted 39 seniors, 21 four-year seniors and 17 fifth-year seniors. Prior to our game, they'll have 287 starts on their team. They have one sophomore who starts and the rest are juniors and fourth- and fifth-year seniors. I (would) guess this is one of Lloyd's (Carr) top one, two or three teams since he has been there."