Here are five takeaways from Angelique S. Chengelis following Michigan's 27-20 overtime win at Indiana on Saturday.
■ Committee of one: This is the run-and-don’t-break offense, and Karan Higdon executed it well, as he gained 200 rushing yards and scored three touchdowns, while the offense did not break and turn the ball over — or throw much —in a 27-20 overtime victory at Indiana. Higdon became Michigan’s first running back to gain 200 yards since Mike Hart rushed for 215 (and three touchdowns) against Eastern Michigan in 2007 and the first player since quarterback Denard Robinson had 235 rushing yards against Purdue in 2012.
Higdon had touchdown runs of 12 and 59 yards in regulation and the go-ahead 25-yard score on the first play of overtime. Michigan preaches running back by committee, but Higdon carried the load with a few assists from Ty Isaac, who had seven carries for 38 yards. Chris Evans added eight carries for five yards and Kareem Walker had an eight-yard carry.
■ Seeking balance: Michigan is going to have to try to throw the ball at some point — Saturday night at Penn State might be one of those times — but Jim Harbaugh insists his game plan was to run the ball and not throw much at Indiana. The Wolverines followed through on that game plan with John O’Korn attempting 20 passes in his second start in place of injured Wilton Speight. O’Korn completed 10 passes for 58 yards, while Michigan relied on its defense, kicker Quinn Nordin and 271 rushing yards.
“We went with what was working, and we won the game,” O’Korn said.
But every coach will tell you balance is key and that will matter against the Nittany Lions.
■ Flag fest: Michigan got away with a program-record 16 penalties for 141 yards, including 11 in the first half and three defensive penalties on one play. And by “got away” — they got away with still winning.
“We have to get better in that area,” Harbaugh said. “When you’re getting them off offense, the defense and special teams … teach and coach how to not get the penalties, and we’re getting penalties. We’ve got to grow there and get better at.”
Cutting down on penalties is, in large part, about discipline. Michigan is among the most penalized teams in the country. In the category of “fewest penalties,” Michigan ranks 112th of 129 teams with 51 and 13th in the Big Ten. In fewest penalties per game, the Wolverines are 120th and are averaging 8.5 a game.
“Been around young ball clubs before and it’s a process,” Harbaugh said. “That’s why we’ve got to become a more disciplined football team.”
■ Line lift: During the loss to Michigan State, starting right tackle Nolan Ulizio was replaced by Juwann Bushell-Beatty, who finished out that game and started against Indiana. Michigan ran 44 times for 271 yards, their biggest total of the season (6.2 yards per carry), and while one man does not an offensive line make, Bushell-Beatty adds experience to the group, especially on that right side.
“Must have been good when you rush the ball as many yards as we did,” Harbaugh said of the line’s chemistry with Bushell-Beatty in at right tackle. “There has to be some really good play up front. I mean, they fight. I’ll tell you what they do — they fight. You really love that when you have a ball club that’s like that.”
■ Sealing the deal: Michigan’s defense remains ranked No. 1 nationally, and sealed the overtime victory over Indiana with Tyree Kinnel’s interception in the end zone. It was the second interception of the game for the Wolverines. Indiana became the sixth Michigan opponent held to its season low for yards. The Hoosiers had 278 total yards of offense, and their previous low had been 308 yards.
On the Hoosiers’ final drive in overtime, after Michigan got a pass interference on the first play and Indiana quarterback Peyton Ramsey rushed for nine yards to the Michigan 3-yard line, Morgan Ellison gained two yards to the 1, then lost two yards on the next play when he was hit by Rashan Gary. After an incompletion, Ramsey lost another yard and then threw the interception.
Linebacker Devin Bush led the defense with eight tackles, while Gary had seven tackles and a team-best 2.5 tackles for loss.