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Turning point of the game: Indiana

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Luke Schoonmaker’s first TD kept the Wolverines’ momentum going.

NCAA Football: Indiana at Michigan Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

The No. 7 Michigan Wolverines improved to 8-1 on the season after beating the Indiana Hoosiers by a score of 29-7. While the game wasn’t particularly flashy, the Wolverines got the job done at home. The Hoosiers seemed to be plagued with injuries and Michigan had its own fair share of them in the contest as well. Blake Corum, Andrel Anthony and Gemon Green all appeared on the Michigan sideline after apparent injuries on the field. Despite a game filled with injuries Michigan remained composed, which led to them getting the fifth conference win of the season.

A main cause for concern that has unfortunately become a common narrative of the season was the red zone efficiency of the Michigan offense. Michigan got within scoring range six times, but only scored three touchdowns, with the rest being field goals. The fanbase’s frustration surely arises because of points being left off the board and a tough three-week stretch ahead for the Wolverines. The combination of these two things leaves a lot to be desired and something has to give in order for Michigan to win out.

Indiana did well in trying to stifle the Michigan offense, keeping the Wolverines’ passing effort to 223 yards. This coming after allowing Maryland to throw for more than 400 in the game last week. The Wolverines lost a lot in Corum in the first quarter, but they took it in stride and we were able to see Hassan Haskins take on the workload, going for a season-high 163 yards. He carried on showing his usual athleticism of gaining yards, even with carrying two or more defenders on his back. Haskins even tossed in a hurdle on his 62-yard rush in the second quarter.

While his numbers weren’t as showy as they were last week, Cade McNamara still put on a show, throwing for 168 yards and two touchdowns. Cornelius Johnson led in receiving yards, catching a particularly nice 50-yard pass from McNamara in the fourth quarter. While he had 108 receiving yards in the game, it was tight end Luke Schoonmaker who had himself a game, catching the two receiving touchdowns of the game while stepping in for an injured Erick All.

On the other side of the ball, the defense, led by the efforts of Aidan Hutchinson and David Ojabo, forced two sacks and one fumble. Ojabo recorded his eighth sack of the season and his fourth forced fumble. The Wolverine defense kept Indiana’s total offense under 200 yards, as the Hoosiers threw for 88 yards and rushed for 107 yards. Michigan also shutout the Hoosiers for three quarters, their one lone score coming in the second, and forced them to punt eight of their twelve offensive series.

The turning point in the game came during Michigan’s second touchdown drive, which came directly after Indiana’s lone scoring drive which put the score at 10-7. Michigan needed to respond adequately to extinguish any momentum the Hoosiers might have gained after the touchdown. The second play of this particular series was Haskins’ 62-yard rush that put the Wolverines at Indiana’s 13. After taking a delay of game, Haskins got the Wolverines set up back on the Indiana 12, and that’s when McNamara connected with Schoonmaker for the second touchdown of the game. This put the Maize and Blue up by 10 once more, and it was all they needed to ensure they would take the game.

The defense played a heavy role in making this so, but there was something relieving about a touchdown in the red zone. The closest the Hoosiers ever got after scoring was in the fourth quarter, where they finally got back into Michigan territory, but by then it was too little too late.

This game wasn’t particularly memorable, but it was necessary to finish out the season strong. The Wolverines couldn’t afford a loss to the team that sits last in the Big Ten east, so they did what they had to. While it never looked like Indiana was in the driver’s seat to turn the tide in this game, it always seems to know how to play the Maize and Blue close. Luckily for Michigan, they got the win and now they can focus on getting healthy for Penn State next week. The Wolverines hit the road next week to head to Happy Valley for a noon kickoff.