The Indiana Hoosiers just couldn't seem to get out of their own way Saturday afternoon, as they played host to the 14th ranked Michigan Wolverines. The Hoosiers, double digit underdogs, were looking to pull off an upset for the ages. Indiana didn't come up short due to self-inflicted wounds, yet they just couldn't make that one play they had been making all afternoon against a top ranked Wolverine defensive unit.
Michigan's defense had only allowed just over 80 yards rushing on average per game so far this season. Indiana Hoosiers' running back Jordan Howard rushed the ball 35 times for 238 yards. This was just a small way the Wolverines were tested in this matchup.
There was a fast start for Michigan as Jake Rudock was able to find Jehu Chesson for a 34 yard touchdown pass to open up the scoring of the game. The Hoosiers would respond with two field goals in the first quarter to round out the scoring in the period. The lone touchdown in the quarter was one of four on the night for Jehu Chesson, who no doubt took advantage of a very weak Indiana secondary. A game that went back and forth as teams traded leads throughout the entire game would come down to the stanza.
Early in the fourth quarter, the Hoosiers led the game 26-24, but Michigan marched down the field to take a one point lead on a 20 yard field goal by Kenny Allen. The Hoosiers marched right back down the field and scored on a powerful 24-yard run by Jordan Howard. Howard capped off the drive in only a way that he could after scoring the touchdown, as he punched in the two point conversion. IU now held a 34-27 lead with only 2:52 remaining in the game.
Only in Indiana fashion, they allowed the Wolverines to have a good return off the kickoff and a twelve yard reception on the first play of the drive to really get going. On the final play of regulation, Jake Rudock hit Jehu Chesson from 5 yards out to tie the game and force overtime.
The teams were able to duel it out in the first overtime as both were able to score touchdowns. In the second overtime, Michigan took advantage first and scored a touchdown quickly. Indiana worked its way down to the two yard line, and on fourth and goal the Hoosiers elected to pass the ball instead of doing the usual read option run game in a short down and distance. Indiana quarterback Nate Sudfeld was unable to connect with wideout Mitchell Paige for the game tying score.
Once again the Hoosiers fell short against a quality opponent. Since starting the season 4-0, Indiana has managed to lose four out of the last six games by single digits. For a team that's trying to find a way to turn around a program, that's huge. Huge, in the same way that Indiana is trying to find a way to now become bowl eligible.
They will now have to find a way to win their remaining two games on the road, at Maryland and at Purdue. A hard task? Not quite, it can easily be accomplished. Both Purdue and Maryland are teams that are struggling at best. Indiana does have a chance to get to six wins. But they have made this a lot harder than it had to be. They've left a couple of games on the table against high level opponents. It's unfortunate to say, but this is the Indiana football that most have come to expect. Hopefully they can find a way to get two wins at the end of the season just to appease a very unpleasant fan base for at least another year. And if they don't, is there a change in the making? We shall see.
There is no change in the making for the Michigan Wolverines, a squad that continues to look strong down the stretch. Jim Harbaugh's team is still in the hunt for the Big Ten Championship game. They need to hope Ohio State beats Michigan State next week, and the Wolverines need to win all of their remaining matchups. This is very well possible, as Jake Rudock continues to play well. The UM defense did have a poor game today, but the team found the will to fin at the end. It's been a fabulous comeback for the team from Ann Arbor, and it's just getting started.