Before this past Saturday’s meeting in Bloomington between then ranked No. 17 Michigan (5-1, 1-1 Big Ten) and Indiana (3-3, 0-3), the last two games in the series were thrillers right down to the finish.
This weekends contest lived up to the same standards.
The Wolverines escaped with a 27-20 overtime victory over the Hoosiers, the second-straight overtime victory for the Wolverines at Memorial Stadium.
With game looking essentially over nearing the four minute mark of the fourth quarter and Michigan leading 20-10, Indiana’s offense woke up.
They scored 10 unanswered points with a game-tying field goal at the end of regulation to send the game to overtime and were looking for their first win against Michigan after 21-straight losses.
Instead, Michigan stopped them on four-straight plays from the two yard line in the Indiana’s first offensive possession of overtime to seal their 22nd win against the Hoosiers in a row and their 57th win in the series (57-9).
However, before Michigan made those stops and ended the game with the Tyree Kinnel Interception, a player on Michigan’s offense gave them the lead.
It wasn't the first time he gave the offense a jolt of energy and he clearly made a difference in the game.
For this weeks turning point, we look to multiple plays made Michigan’s running back Karan Higdon.
Coming into the season, Higdon was the clear No. 3 on the Wolverines depth chart.
After a solid performance against Michigan State (12 carries, 65 yards), the junior was working his way up that chart.
After Saturday, Higdon now finds himself as a key component to Michigan’s offensive success.
The Sarasota, Florida native rushed for a career-high 200 yards on 25 carries and scored three touchdowns, which was every touchdown Michigan scored in the game.
His first scores came with just over 10 minutes left in the first half when he got a look to the outside and sprinted to the end zone for a 12-yard score, giving Michigan the 13-0 lead.
At the time, it looked like Michigan could maybe pick up some momentum and pull away, but offense couldn't do much and Indiana capitalized.
The Hoosiers’ Morgan Ellison scored from eight yards out early in the third frame to pull Indiana back within just three points.
Both teams then struggled to find any success with their offense, with over 16 minutes of no points being allowed by either defense.
Higdon was there to pick his team up again.
The 5-foot-10, 190-pound tailback broke free down the middle of the field for his longest run of the game — a 59-yard touchdown — restoring the Wolverine lead back to 10 points (20-10).
For the first time all season, the Michigan defense couldn't hold a lead to close out a game, allowing Indiana to score twice in the final four minutes of the game, evening the score at 20 all.
The coin toss went to Indiana and they elected to have Michigan start with the ball on offense.
Higdon answered that decision with the one that would be the difference in the game.
On the first play of overtime, Higdon scampered outside after being nearly tackled at the line of scrimmage and went in for the 25-yard and eventual game-winning touchdown.
“Man it was crazy, I had hit it for a long one earlier,” Higdon said of his third touchdown after the game. “It kind of got cluttered so I bounced outside and knew I had to make something happen. The defensive linemen and linebackers over-pursued, I knew I had the end zone from there.”
Higdon said that his success on the day came from simply trusting his offensive line and playing through them.
“When you trust the play-calling and your land marks, it will take you where you want to go.” he said.
Where he went, was to the end zone for three scores that were the key difference in this game, without those Michigan doesn't do much at all.
Quarterback John O’Korn only threw for 58 yards, completing 10-of-20 passes.
The offense was essentially one-dimensional and now will go on the road to Happy Valley where No. 2 Penn State awaits them.
While Michigan will be looking for more out of their passing game, their once third on the depth chart running back Higdon will now be looked at as a key factor to Michigan’s offense.