Takeaways from UM's win: Rush defense struggles

Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News
Indiana wide receiver Mitchell Paige tries to run the ball around Michigan cornerback Jourdan Lewis, left, and safety Jabrill Peppers in the first overtime.

What went wrong

The rush defense, that’s what. Indiana leads the Big Ten in offense, and Michigan entered the game with the top-rated defense. But Hoosiers tailback Jordan Howard and the Indiana offensive line didn’t seem to care that Michigan was ranked No. 3 nationally against the run, yielding an average 80.6 yards a game. Howard rushed for 238 yards on 35 carries (6.8 per-carry average), and had two touchdowns. That’s the first time since Ohio State’s Carlos Hyde rushed for 226 yards against the Wolverines in 2013 that Michigan has allowed a back to rush for 200 yards or more. Also a problem, Michigan has allowed a special teams score in each of the last two games, including a 51-yard punt return by Indiana’s Mitchell Paige.

What went right

Jake Rudock, the graduate transfer from Iowa, made one mistake, a bad decision that resulted in an interception, but he did plenty right, completing 33-of-46 for 440 yards and a school-record six touchdowns. His last score was a 25-yard touchdown to Amara Darboh to give Michigan its decisive 48-41 advantage in the second overtime, but his prettiest pass was a 64-yarder to Jehu Chesson. Chesson had four touchdown receptions, including three in the first half. Darboh and Jake Butt had a touchdown catch each.

Key development

More than likely, Michigan will be without nose tackle Ryan Glasgow, who had developed into one of the biggest forces on the defensive line. Glasgow missed the Indiana game after suffering an injury to his pectoral muscle in the Rutgers game the week before. His left arm was in a sling last week. “It’s looking that way,” Harbaugh said Saturday when asked if Glasgow will be lost for the rest of the season. Glasgow had started the first nine games of this season and 14 straight dating to last season. He has made 20 starts in his career. Maurice Hurst started against Indiana in Glasgow’s place.

Most telling quotes

Jim Harbaugh on the Michigan players dedicating the game to 5-year-old Chad Carr, who has an inoperable brain tumor and this week entered hospice care. He is the grandson of former Michigan coach Lloyd Carr: “The spirit of that little guy and his toughness, I think we were drawing on that. I think the fellas were drawing on that at the end and found a way.”

Harbaugh: “It looked like we were playing like we were undermanned. We were tired. We’re going to have to suck it up.”

Harbaugh responding to a question from local media about his interest in a potential Colts opening: “Just stop. Stop. Stop yourself. No comment.”

What’s next

Michigan travels to Penn State (7-3, 4-2 Big Ten). The Nittany Lions are coming off a 23-21 loss at Northwestern and were off last weekend. They are 6-0 at home this season and are hosting a whiteout for the Michigan game. Penn State is 7-11 all-time against Michigan but has won the last three meetings at Beaver Stadium, including a 43-40, four-overtime victory over Michigan in 2013. Quarterback Christian Hackenberg threw for 305 yards and two touchdowns in that win. The Nittany Lions this season ranked fourth in the Big Ten in total defense (311.2) and are first in pass defense (159.0). Defensive end Carl Nassib has been particularly disruptive, leading the Big Ten in sacks (16) and tackles for loss (19.5), as well as forced fumbles (6).