Bloomington, Ind. — Against Indiana, Michigan running back Karan Higdon nearly matched his season rushing total and more than doubled his touchdowns.
Higdon rushed for 200 yards on 25 carries and scored three touchdowns, including a 25-yarder in overtime that gave Michigan the go-ahead score in a 27-20 victory on Saturday at Memorial Stadium.
Entering the game, Karan Higdon had 201 yards on 45 carries and two touchdowns. He was the team’s leading rusher the week before against MSU and had 65 yards on 12 carries and two catches for 33 yards.
“He was a pit bull out there,” center Patrick Kugler said of Higdon after the IU game.
On the final touchdown, Higdon had nowhere to go up the middle and bounced out to the left.
“I’m going to be honest, I went the wrong way on that play,” Kugler said. “I messed up. You have a back like Karan, he’s going to make you right some times when you do some bad things. He’s a hell of a back. We’ve got three or four really good backs, and trust all of them back there. Karan got his touches today and balled out.”
It was a play call Michigan had made several times during the game.
“So we felt good going back to it,” Higdon said. “Got the ball, saw the hole was clogged and decided to make something happen, so I bounced it and saw the defense over-pursue and off to the races.”
On the 59-yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter that gave Michigan a 20-10 lead, Higdon was sprung by some tough blocking from right tackle Juwann Bushell-Beatty, making his first start of the season, and fullback Henry Poggi.
Wolverines running back, who finished with 200 yards on 25 carries, including three TDs, attributes his performance to all 11 members of the offense. Angelique S. Chengelis
“It’s amazing what can happen when all 11 guys do their job,” Higdon said. “I knew at some point in time something was going to bust. That was the time.”
Said Kugler: “We ran that play a couple times in the game. It was hitting and it was hitting four, six, eight, and you know eventually one of them is going to pop. We didn’t have any negative rushes with that play, specifically, so we knew something was working there. We know Karan’s going to hit the right hole and make someone miss and that’s what he did.”
Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh said the plan entering the game was to focus more on the run. Ty Isaac had seven carries for 38 yards, Chris Evans had eight for five yards, and Kareem Walker had one carry for eight yards.
Wolverines running back on offense put their faith in the plan of attack, which kept the ball on the ground. Angelique S. Chengelis
“We went with the run game a little more today, which is fantastic for all us,” Higdon said. “We had a salty taste in our mouth from last week (the loss to Michigan State), and we stuck with the game plan and trusted it.”
This was Michigan’s most productive rushing performance of the season. Against Florida in the opener, Michigan rushed for 215 yards and followed that with 193 against Cincinnati and 190 against Air Force.
“They’re a very physical front, we knew that, and we try to pride ourselves on being a physical front, as well,” Kugler said. “We wanted to come out and run the ball. Our goal was 250-plus yards rushing, and I think we had 271. We put it in our minds as an offensive front that we were not going to be denied.”
Wolverines coach praises running back, especially for his yards after contact. Angelique S. Chengelis
Harbaugh said the game plan for Indiana was going to be “run heavy” and Higdon carried out the plan.
“(Higdon) was phenomenal,” Harbaugh said. “I don’t know how many yards he got after contact. They were tough yards, and there were plays that looked like they were going to be a tackle for a loss, or a one-yard gain or no gain, and he found a way to get four or five out of it. More than a few. A lot of yards and cracked the big one for us and didn’t get trapped behind the line. Big boost for Karan Higdon today.”