By JERAMY STOVER, Sports Editor
After suffering their first loss of the season, the Michigan Wolverines needed to come out of the gate Saturday and show that the defeat was behind them.
It didn’t quite happen that way, but Michigan did find a way to pull out a 20-10 win in the blustery snowy conditions against Indiana. The Wolverines outscored the Hoosiers 17-3 in the decisive third quarter.
“We knew because of the elements it would probably be a defensive battle,” redshirt sophomore linebacker Jabrill Peppers said after the game.
For the most part, the offenses weren’t completely anemic but neither side could find many ways to score.
Indiana’s offense found the end zone first on an 11 play, 75-yard drive in the second quarter that gave the Hoosiers a 7-3 lead. Running back Camion Patrick lined up under center and rushed the ball up the middle for a two-yard score.
After each team traded a field goal Michigan finally found some magic on offense. Redshirt junior quarterback John O’Korn slipped to the outside and ran 30-yards up the sideline to get Michigan down to their opponents 34-yard line. The next play, senior running back De’Veon Smith saw a gaping hole left by his offensive line and found the end zone to give Michigan a 13-10 lead.
But Smith wasn’t done impressing the home crowd on senior night. Two drives later Smith used his blockers to rush for a 39-yard touchdown score and give Michigan a two possession lead.
“I know with every single one of our running backs we were maybe an arm tackle away from breaking it and (running backs coach) Wheatley just talked to us that we got to fight through those arm tackles and we need a big one and you got to take this game over and that’s what we did,” Smith said.
The running backs were need heavily with O’Korn stumbling in his first start in nearly two years since transferring to Michigan. O’Korn completed just 7-of-16 passes for 56 yards. He didn’t get the most help from his offensive line and receivers, but he failed to throw an accurate ball most of the game. One of which that O’Korn himself pointed out was a deep pass to Amara Darboh in the second quarter that just sailed past Darboh. If O’Korn was able to hit Darboh, he most likely would’ve scored.
To go along with their passing struggles, Michigan also had one of its worst games on third downs. The Wolverines converted just 3-of-15 third down attempts one of their lower percentages on the season.
Michigan’s defense was potent up front, again accumulating 12 tackles for loss with defensive linemen Ryan Glasgow and Taco Charlton leading the way with three and two and a half respectively. The Wolverines defense also sacked Indiana quarterback Richard Lagow three times.
Next week will be the biggest game of the year for Michigan as they head to Columbus to take on Ohio State in “The Game.” Both teams will be looking to not only make the Big Ten championship game but keep their college football playoff hopes alive.
If Michigan wins, they will make the Big Ten championship game. If Ohio State wins, Michigan will need Penn State to lose in order to make the title game or else it will be the Nittany Lions going to Indianapolis.
Needless to say, Peppers knows his team will need to play a full 60 minutes to beat the Buckeyes.
“We just got to go out there and play 60 minutes of football. We know what we want to be we, don’t have to harp on it or dwell on it. The game is big enough in itself but now it’s us and them, winner probably earns their spot in the college football playoff so I know they’re gonna come ready and they better believe we’re gonna come ready,” Peppers said.