Michigan wins 10th straight, sets up showdown with Ohio State
Ann Arbor — Michigan has made it a perfect 10, and now it’s onto The Game
The fourth-ranked Wolverines have won 10 straight since losing the season opener, adding a 31-20 victory over Indiana on Saturday before 110,118 in the final game of the season at Michigan Stadium.
Michigan is 10-1, 8-0 Big Ten and will face Ohio State next Saturday at Ohio Stadium.
Freshman Jake Moody, who has been handling kickoffs for the Wolverines, stepped in for Quinn Nordin, who was ill, and set a school record in his placekicking debut, going 6-for-6 on field goals. The Wolverines made eight trips to the red zone and scored seven times, the lone touchdown a 2-yard run from Karan Higdon.
BOX SCORE:Michigan 31, Indiana 20
While there was much to dissect in the Indiana game, talk very quickly turned to arch-rival Ohio State. The Buckeyes have won six straight and 13 of the last 14.
“Everybody in the whole entire country know what this week is. We know what this week is, so we want to attack it,” defensive end Rashan Gary said. “It’s been a whole year of having a bad taste in our mouth. We have to go out and prepare the right way and go out there and see what happens.”
Michigan (10-1, 8-0 Big Ten) leads the East Division and could earn a spot in the Big Ten championship game for the first time. A win over Ohio State also would keep the Wolverines in the national playoff hunt.
After the Michigan State game on Oct. 20, Higdon, who gained 101 yards on 21 carries against Indiana, said people were questioning this and questioning that about the Wolverines. He was asked what the Wolverines have left to prove.
“We’re not proving anything to anybody,” Higdon said. “They’re going to get what they get out of it, but we’re proving stuff to ourselves that we definitely can be the best team in the country, that we’re definitely a top-four team, and that we’re a playoff contender and we deserve to play in the playoffs.
“That only happens if we continue to dominate each and every week.”
But first, Michigan had to take care of Indiana, no small task.
The Wolverines had 507 yards of offense but had issues in the red zone. Quarterback Shea Patterson was 16-of-28 for 250 yards and a touchdown.
Michigan trailed 17-15 at halftime, but after the Hoosiers went three-and-out their first series of the second half, the Wolverines gathered themselves for an efficient scoring drive. The Wolverines outscored Indiana 16-3 in the second half.
The game was marred by a frightening injury late in the game involving Berkley Edwards on a kickoff return. Indiana’s Cam Jones was ejected on the play for targeting, and Edwards lie on the field a while before he was secured on a board and removed from the field on a cart. Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh said Edwards suffered a concussion.
In the third quarter, Michigan defensive end Chase Winovich also had to be tended to by the medical training staff and eventually left the field and went directly to the locker room. Harbaugh said X-rays and a CAT-scan were negative.
With seven scores in eight trips to the red zone and only one touchdown — Nick Eubanks scored on a 41-yard pass from Patterson — the reliance on Moody, although he was perfect, had to be concerning. For the season, Michigan has made 50 red-zone trips and scored 43 times, including 29 touchdowns.
“We didn’t execute as well as we wanted to,” Higdon said. “We had some dropped balls, miscues and we can’t have that. I’d rather that happen now than next week.”
Patterson said the opponent has something to do with red-zone issues.
“You’re not going to roll every team every week,” Patterson said. “Not everything is going to go your way. They had a pretty good scheme, a pretty good defense and we ended up just taking what they gave us and the defense put us in good position and this guy (Moody) was a sniper. He did a hell of a job.”
The Wolverines scored on three consecutive series in the second half, including a 67-yard drive that went 11 plays. They had critical third-down conversions, first on a 16-yard pass from Patterson to Donovan Peoples-Jones on 3rd-and-9 and then Higdon converted on third-and-4 with a 5-yard run. Higdon gave the Wolverines a 22-17 lead on a 2-yard touchdown run. This was Higdon’s eighth 100-yard rushing game this season