Michigan running back Karan Higdon on the holding penalty credited to him in the Northwestern game. The Detroit News


Ann Arbor — Call it the “phantom hold” or the “Higdon Hold."

Regardless, Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh still has not received an explanation from the Big Ten on the holding penalty called on running back Karan Higdon — who was tackled on the play — that negated quarterback Shea Patterson’s 20-yard run and tacked on penalty yardage.

Trailing 17-13 at Northwestern last Saturday, Patterson ran to the Wildcats’ 41-yard line. But the holding call put Michigan in a second-and-18 situation from the Michigan 29.

Harbaugh issued his displeasure with the call after the game.

“The whole stadium saw that the linebacker tackled our running back. It was a zone read, faked it to the running back, their linebacker tackled him,” Harbaugh said. “It was a phantom call.”


Michigan coach talks about a questionable holding penalty that was called on running back Karan Higdon. The Detroit News

According to a Big Ten spokesperson, the league office does not typically issue public statements regarding specific judgment calls that occur in a given game. Coaches weekly send penalties to the league office to be reviewed and often receive calls from the head of official for clarification.

Michigan came back from a 17-point deficit to win 20-17 and improved to 4-1, 2-0 Big Ten. The Wolverines play Maryland on Saturday at Michigan Stadium. Kickoff is at noon.

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Higdon on Monday said he has seen the play several times because so many have sent him the clip.

“Just one of those things — I can’t say it happens,” Higdon said, starting to laugh. “I have no explanation for it. I don’t know how that happens.”

Left tackle Jon Runyan on Monday described it as “kind of unbelievable” and defensive tackle Carlo Kemp offered a bit of sarcasm when asked about the play.

“On the sidelines I didn’t see it and then when I watched it, that was a really good block by (Higdon) that he did,” Kemp said. “Probably should have kept his arms inside. That’s what they teach on the offensive line. I’m sure (left guard) Ben Bredeson can help him with that.”

While that was a glaring error by officials, Michigan did have plenty of legitimate penalties in the game — 11 for 100 yards — and are among the more penalized teams in the country. The Wolverines have 46 penalties for 421 yards this season. They rank 118th of 129 teams nationally and 12th in the Big Ten in penalty yards per game (84.2) and are tied for 120th nationally in penalties per game.

Twitter: @chengelis