Bloomington, Ind. – And then there was one.
As in one more regular season game for second-ranked Michigan, which used a stifling defense to hand the Hoosiers a 34-3 loss Saturday at Memorial Stadium, setting up a colossal encounter next week with top-ranked and arch-rival Ohio State.
For Indiana, there's now just one more chance to win a sixth regular season game and thus guarantee the program's first bowl game appearance since 1993. The Hoosiers have failed in their first two chances to get bowl eligible, and now must travel to West Lafayette and beat Purdue next weekend to fulfill the program's goal of "playing 13."
"We can't hang out heads," IU Coach Terry Hoeppner said after the loss to Michigan. "We'll go up there and it would be great to get the bucket back and get bowl eligible up there. There's a bowl waiting for us."
Indiana could have guaranteed itself a bowl berth with an upset of the Wolverines, but Coach Lloyd Carr's squad was too much for the Hoosiers Saturday. On an overcast and blustery afternoon in Bloomington, Michigan dominated on both sides of the ball and cruised to its 15th straight win over IU, dating back to 1987.
Defensively, Michigan limited the Hoosiers to 131 yards of total offense, including just 26 on the ground. IU's leading rusher managed just 12 yards, and Kellen Lewis was limited to 16-of-33 passing for 105 yards and no scores.
Of course, that comes as little surprise since the Wolverines entered the contest with the country's top-ranked rushing defense (30.3 yards/game) and were seventh in scoring defense (13.0/game).
"Their defense is outstanding," Hoeppner said. "We had a tough time with their defensive front."
That front consistently collapsed the Hoosiers' pocket and forced Lewis to try to make something out of nothing. Lewis was sacked five times on the afternoon and was constantly swarmed by the Wolverines.
Offensively, Michigan did more than enough to come away with the win to set up next weekend's contest against the top-ranked Buckeyes. Tailback Michael Hart rushed for 92 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries, while Chad Henne completed 11-of-15 passes for 159 yards and another two scores.
One of those scores went to Steve Breaston, who turned a 14-3 Michigan lead into a 21-3 cushion with 10:23 remaining in the second quarter when he caught a 62-yard strike from Henne. It was Breaston's first touchdown reception of the year.
Despite that hole, Indiana had one chance to climb back into the contest. After Breaston's touchdown Indiana marched 54 yards late in the first half to get inside the Michigan 15 with a chance to cut the lead to 11 at halftime. But Lewis was picked off in the end zone by Morgan Trent to squash the scoring march.
"That was a huge play," Hoeppner said. "It was one Kellen wished he had back."
Michigan quickly put the game away early in the second half. After the Hoosiers' opening drive stalled, Breaston struck again, returning a Tyson Beattie punt 83 yards for a score to push the head to 28-3.
While the loss was a lopsided and disappointing one for Indiana, Hoeppner is pleased to still have a chance next weekend to fulfill the team's goal of earning a postseason bowl trip.
"It boils down to one game," Hoeppner said. "We have the same goal alive that we did going into the game. Playing 13 is still there for us."
Hoosiers No Match for No. 2 Michigan
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