The Michigan Wolverines defense took advantage of an Indiana Hoosiers’ offense that was down to their third-string quarterback in Saturday’s 29-7 win. Aidan Hutchinson and David Ojabo dominated a weak Indiana offensive line all game long and the rest of the defense fed off the best edge-rushing duo in the Big Ten.
However, moving to the other side of the ball, the game was less than ideal. Indiana allowed 500 yards to Maryland last week. This week, Michigan put up just 413 yards while their defense stunted nearly every Hoosier drive. The Wolverines were terrible on third down, mostly because they couldn’t keep their quarterbacks upright. They converted at just a 3-12 clip. Michigan also struggled mightily in the redzone which made this one way closer on the scoreboard than it should have been.
The bright spot for the offense was Hassan Haskins who had a career-high in both carries and yards as he took 27 carries for 168 yards and a touchdown. He was tasked with being the workhorse for the Wolverines with Donovan Edwards out and Blake Corum exiting the game with an injury in the first half.
Injuries were a huge part of this game for both sides. Corum, Andrel Anthony, A.J. Henning, Gemon Green, and Cade McNamara all limped off the field at different points of the game. Indiana also had to go through a carousel of defensive linemen as all four of their starters exited the game at some point due to injury.
It was an ugly, injury-filled game, but let’s take a dive into how this one went down:
Indiana wanted to move the ball on the ground early and they were doing so with some tempo. A few designed runs for Donaven McCulley and some tosses to receivers in the flat gave the Hoosiers a pretty nice drive to open the game. But Michigan’s defense continued to show pressure and get into the freshman quarterback’s face. An 11-play, 36-yard drive resulted in a punt.
After a quick Michigan drive with a few McNamara incompletions in a row, Indiana got the ball right back. The Hoosiers were keeping it easy for McCulley. A plethora of quick reads on the ground and through the air was the strategy to ensure that McCulley didn’t have to hold the ball for too long in the pocket. When facing Hutchinson and Ojabo, that makes too much sense. But they still couldn’t figure out the Michigan defense. Once again, Indiana was forced to punt.
Haskins opened the next Michigan drive with a 13-yard run where he plowed through a bunch of defenders. A couple of plays later and the Wolverines went for it on 4th & 1 with Cade McNamara sneaking to convert. Blake Corum got his first attempt of the game but came up hobbling off to the sideline. On passing downs, Indiana’s front continued to get hands into McNamara’s face. After four redzone field goals last week against Michigan State, the Wolverines open Saturday’s game with a 34-yard field goal from Jake Moody to go up 3-0.
On the next Indiana drive, the Michigan pressure was too much. Ojabo had a sick spin move and picked up his 8th sack of the season, stripping McCulley on 3rd & 9 in the process. Chris Hinton fell on it and the Wolverines took over at the Indiana 24-yard line. It was the fourth forced fumble this season for Ojabo who has quickly become one of the best edge rushers in the country.
Haskins caught a ball underneath and hurdled a defender to get inside the 5-yard line to open the Michigan drive. Two plays later, he snuck it through on a run to the left side for the touchdown. Converting turnovers to points early in games has been routine for the Wolverines this season. And they did it again to take a 10-0 lead early in the second quarter.
After the turnover, Indiana decided to get creative on offense. A wildcat formation with McCulley lined up as a receiver and eventually making the throw on a reverse play went for 20 yards downfield to Peyton Hendershot. Then, McCulley scrambled for 24 yards and inside the 5-yard line. Chris Childers punched it in to cut the lead to 10-7.
Michigan, needing some offense, gave it to their workhorse, Haskins, for his 13th carry halfway through the second quarter. He attacked the left side, found a seam, and ran for 66 yards into the redzone. Haskins crossed the century mark for the day with the big play. Then, McNamara found Luke Schoonmaker on a crossing route off a play-action for a 12-yard touchdown. Michigan repossessed a two-score lead at 17-7.
The pressure from the Wolverines’ front continued to make plays. Taylor Upshaw recorded a sack that put the Hoosiers behind the sticks. Then, Chris Hinton made a nice play breaking up an interior run. Mike Macdonald’s defense stood tall forcing another punt, putting the ball back in the hands of the Michigan offense.
A.J. Henning began the next drive with an 18-yard end-around run. On the next play, McNamara hit Cornelius Johnson for a 21-yard reception down the left sideline. After a run was held short, Indiana blitzed and sacked McNamara for a loss that put Michigan outside of field goal range. On 3rd & 18, J.J. McCarthy got his first snap of the game and threw a dangerous ball across his body towards the middle of the field as he was getting pushed out of bounds. Michigan was forced to punt after what began as a very promising drive.
Indiana just ran the remaining clock out after the punt and elected to go into the half. The Wolverines were up 17-7 and were getting the ball out of the break, but it wasn’t a dominating that many fans hoped for. Haskins was unbelievable accounting for 137 of Michigan’s 210 first-half yards. But the Wolverines’ redzone woes continued and they were just 1-5 on third down to open up this one.
Michigan continued to feed Haskins to open up the second half getting two touches in the first three plays including being held short on 3rd & 1. Harbaugh decided to go for it on 4th down on their own 31-yard line. But, he used a timeout after 50 something seconds of trying to draw the Hoosiers offside before calling a timeout. The worst part, McNamara actually snapped the ball and Haskins potentially could have broken free as many Hoosiers had given up on the play. It was all for not as Michigan punted following the second media timeout with 0 plays actually happening in the game.
Three straight passes came from the Hoosiers on the ensuing possession and McCulley was heavily pursued all three times. Indiana punted to give the ball right back to the Wolverines.
It was a McCarthy drive for Michigan. However, he handed it off to Haskins for 21 yards to midfield. Then, a couple more times for another first down. McCarthy tossed a bullet to Carter Selzer, but he couldn't hang on for what would have been his first career catch. The next play, McCarthy found Sainristil in the flat and he took it for a first down and then some into the redzone. A false start and a blitz that made McCarthy misfire made it 3rd & 14 and yet another redzone drive stalled as Moody hit a 32-yarder to make it 20-7.
It was three runs and the second three and out of the half for the Hoosiers. D.J. Turner was on the return for the Wolverines and he picked up about 20 yards in the process. Michigan’s offense took over at midfield.
McNamara re-entered the game for the Wolverines and the drive looked hopeless before he found Johnson for 26 yards on 3rd & 8. The next play, McNamara did it with his legs running for a first down into the redzone. But, McNamara limped off the field on 3rd & 7 from the 10-yard line. McCarthy came in and took a sack at the hands of Micah McFadden. Moody nailed it again from 34 yards, but it was Michigan’s third field goal on five redzone trips. It bit them in the butt last week against Michigan State and it will do so again later this year if they don’t solve this issue. Michigan still had the lead, 23-7.
Three drives for Indiana in the third quarter for a total of nine plays, and Michigan’s defense had everything the Hoosiers were trying to do figured out. It already felt like both sides were just waiting to go home.
This game had been a snoozer for a while, but finally, Michigan’s offense woke up. McNamara looked deep to Johnson down the right seam for 50 yards. Then, he hit Schoonmaker for his second touchdown of the day. They went for two, but the offensive line’s struggles continued as a Michigan quarterback was sacked yet again. But, the Wolverines had the lead at 29-7.
Four drives in the second half, all for three-and-outs for Indiana’s offense. McCarthy and the Michigan offense took over at the 10-yard line. It was Michigan’s first three-and-out since the first possession of the second half, and Indiana took the ball back.
The Hoosiers picked up a first down for the first time in two quarters on the ensuing drive. But, they need to go for it on 4th & 8 near the redzone. Ty Fryfogle, Indiana’s best receiver, was the target on a deep ball, but Vincent Gray effortlessly swatted it away as the Hoosiers turned it over on downs.
McCarthy was back in the game for the Wolverines and he made a great toss to Roman Wilson for a first down on 2nd & 15. Tavierre Dunlap also got the first non-Hassan Haskins carry of the game since Corum left for an injury in the first half. Later in the drive, Mccarthy threw a dart to Johnson running a slant. It went off his hands and high into the air for an easy interception by Devon Matthews.
Indiana wanted to get just one more three-and-out in there for good measure and the Wolverines took over for a kneel down to mercifully end this one at 29-7 in favor of the home team.
Michigan should have won by a quite a bit more, but they still won the game despite getting a bit banged up. They’ve got a big test on the road next week against Penn State and Harbaugh has not fared very well in Happy Valley to this point in his tenure. Hopefully, the tide will change this season as Michigan’s Big Ten Championship hopes are still very much alive with just three games remaining in the regular season.