ANN ARBOR -- Distractions aside, this was a game that Michigan needed to win to keep its bowl bid hopes alive.
It did just that after the Wolverines (4-5, 2-3 Big Ten East) dispatched Indiana in deciding fashion by the score of 34-10. It also marked the 19th-straight victory and 34th victory in the last 35 meetings over the Hoosiers (3-5, 0-5 Big Ten East).
The football program is currently in the midst of major distractions since the beginning of the season. It had another one added to the entire athletic department when athletic director Dave Brandon's resignation was made official on Friday.
Michigan coach Brady Hoke deferred all questions about the events that took place on Friday until his Monday press conference.
Much like the Indiana offense as a whole, nne of the nations leading rushers, Tevin Coleman, was a non-factor throughout the game. Although he rushed for 108 yards and kept his national-best rushing streak going at 10 games, Coleman also fumbled the ball twice which resulted in two turnovers and was benched for an extended period of time in the first half.
The Wolverines would go on to score 14 points off turnovers.
On top of forcing turnovers, the defense did its job shutting down the Hoosier offense. Athough true freshman Zander Diamont only threw eight times, the defense held the Hoosiers to only 24 yards passing. On top of that, linebackers Joe Bolden and Jake Ryan added a pair of tackles for loss each.
"I gotta give credit with how the kids leveraged the football, that's the biggest part of it," Hoke said.
Michigan jumped out to a 17-0 lead that it took into halftime, it didn't slow down there. The Wolverines were aided by an unexpected face at running back when redshirt sophomore Drake Johnson added a pair of touchdowns and 122-yards of rushing.
The two touchdowns and 100-yard rushing performance were career highs and also firsts for his career.
Johnson never doubted that he would find himself in a moment like this.
"I always prepare every day, work hard every day and if they call my number, they call my number," Johnson said. "I really enjoyed it, but this is just one game."
Although his performance was clearly one of the better performances this season, Hoke didn't say whether Johnson earned more playing time next week, but wanted to refer to the tape for further evaluation.
Michigan also received an unexpected boost from redshirt sophomore Amara Darboh who added 107-yards receiving (also a career high) and a touchdown in the second quarter that extended Michigan's lead to 17 points.
Darboh believes that his performance could make a difference with the season winding down.
"Just build confidence in me and build confidence in DG (Devin Gardner) to throw me the ball," Darboh said. "To build the entire teams confidence where we have guys that can make plays and can get the win when we need to."
Gardner, who still doesn't appear fully healthy after suffering an ankle injury against Penn State, finished the game with 220 passing yards with two touchdowns and one underthrown ball intended for receiver Devin Funchess that was easily intercepted. Gardner's first touchdown pass, a shovel pass to junior tight end Keith Heitzman (a first for his career) opened the touchdown scoring and gave Michigan a 10-0 lead.
Gardner also made a few moves in the Michigan record books Saturday. Including passing Denard Robinson for sixth all-time for career completions.
Football aside, there's still a dark cloud hanging over Ann Arbor Saturday. Although he declined to discuss Brandon's resignation, Hoke said Saturday's game was about the players.
"Let's talk about what those kids did because there's only so many opportunities they have," Hoke said. "We're staying together and being accountable for us, that's what they've done."
Michigan travels to Evanston next week to face Northwestern, who were manhandled by Iowa 48-7 on Saturday. Michigan must win the last two out of the remaining three games on its schedule to become bowl eligible.
Odds and ends
- Sophomore tight end Jake Butt was suspended for one game for a "violation of team expectations" and was not on the dress list. Hoke said he will return to the team next week.
- Jabrill Peppers, who was taken off the depth chart on Monday, was seen visibly limping in street clothes when running with the team to touch the banner at midfield.
- De'Veon Smith appeared to suffer a leg/ankle injury and left the field under his own power. He was inserted back into the game later.
- Maurice Hurst Jr., Dymonte Thomas and Willie Henry were not on the dress list and did not play.