Michigan Wolverines outlast IN in latest Big Ten upset bid

Nicole Auerbach                                   6 minutes ago

MI is now 5-1 on the season entering next Saturday night's big showdown with No. 2-rated Penn State at Beaver Stadium in University Park, Pa. Last week's loss to Michigan State was disappointing, no doubt, and the UM offense failed to impress once again on Saturday, but there will be chances for the Wolverines to move up the rankings moving forward.

In 2014, they led No. 6 Ohio State by six until 17 minutes remained, then lost by 15.

The Hoosiers (3-2, 0-2) are no juggernaut. Beating the Wolverines would be quite the accomplishment.

But Indiana did dive to the MI 33 before the offense stalled. In the big picture, the Wolverines were on track before Saturday, and they're still on track now.

Michigan couldn't do this against Michigan State. This past week, the Wolverines fumbled twice.

John O'Korn made his second start at quarterback for the Wolverines, replacing the injured Wilton Speight, and was 10-of-20 for 58 yards. A stronger than expected MI running game. The Wolverines went 10-3 in each of his first two campaigns, with three close losses in the final four games of 2016 preventing them from achieving a true breakthrough in a season in which they were a bounce or two away from the playoff. On Tuesday, center Patrick Kugler, a fifth-year senior, said that all three weren't O'Korn's fault.

If Jim Harbaugh and MI thought there was excessive noise this week, just wait.

His teammates are confident, too.

"We've already said the next game is the most important game", Harbaugh said. "He'll be fine. We're not too anxious about John".

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MI has struggled at times offensively. In Harbaugh's first season in Ann Arbor, the two teams matched up in mid-November after MI had already lost two games.

One would think that swing from one extreme to the other - Michigan State ranks No. 46 on the list - would present some obstructions.

The game ended with MI intercepting a Peyton Ramsey pass in the end zone. The five-play outburst pushed the Hoosiers behind, 20-10, and silenced any serious upset ideas. MI can't waste possessions and give IN short fields if it hopes to win on the road. An early bite on a play could result in trouble.

"You don't do it by talking about it", he said, "you do it by changing the way you prepare". The Hoosiers know it's going to be a challenge. "In spring ball and camp, our offense gave us great looks and went hard against us", Hudson said. But the Hoosiers tried to run it in on three straight plays, all of which were stuffed by MI.

The interception ensured the Wolverines didn't suffer a brutal loss.

During practice, players have had to progress through three stations where running backs, tight ends, full backs and receivers have had to keep a tight grip on the ball, while scout team players attempt to rip and punch it out.

Those points included a Karan Higdon 59-yard touchdown run. "I see a team with great speed that has a complex front".

All rivalry results are particularly meaningful, and that Harbaugh has lost two of three to the Spartans and that MI has lost eight of 10 in the series can't be ignored.


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