The Indiana Hoosiers entered Saturday's contest ranked last in the Big 10 in rushing defense. Because of that. Lloyd Carr's club may have entered the contest with the plan of getting the running game going. If that was indeed the case, the plan was altered pretty quickly, as the ground game proved to be mostly ineffective. Fortunately for the Wolverines, they were able to call on their vaunted passing attack to save the day.
At the game's onset, Gerry Dinardo's club squandered a scoring opportunity on their opening offensive series. After having the drive prolonged thanks to a 32 yard scamper by punter Tyson Beattie, the Hoosiers made it as deep as the Michigan 14. However, the threat was quashed when a high snap flew over quarterback Matt LoVecchio's head and pushed them all of the way back to 43. They were forced to punt and the Maize and Blue went right to work. They opened up with five straight Mike Hart rushes before going to the air for their first scoring strike. Chad Henne dropped back and found Jermaine Gonzales on a stutter and go pattern down the right sideline for the the touchdown and the early 7-0 lead.
The Michigan offense was almost as efficient on its next two drives but it wasn't able to come away with points on either one. A missed field goal from 46 yards late in the first and a Chad Henne fumble at the Indiana 5 yard-line kept the game close, but special teams would soon make up for the offensive shortcomings. Steve Breaston didn't make the trip to Bloomington do to an injured hand, but both of his replacements (Leon Hall on punts and Grant Mason on kicks) would each make his presence felt. Hall placed his imprint on the game after the defense forced the Hoosiers into their fourth consecutive punt midway through the second quarter.
Hall dropped back to receive the ball at the Michigan 24, and with a few quick moves and a couple of nice blocks he cut to the outside and outran his pursuers all of the way to the endzone for the 76 yard touchdown and a 14-0 lead. Hall's jaunt was Michigan's first return for a score this season and first since Breaston took one back against Illinois last year.
The Wolverines were on the march again as time expired in the half, but a blind side hit on QB Chad Henne caused him to fumble away the scoring chance. IU's Kyle Killion picked up the loose ball and carried back to the Michigan 11. That led to the home team's first score and made the halftime score 14-7.
A confident Hoosiers club came out of the locker room pumped up, but Michigan's second big special teams play quickly deflated their sails. Junior Grant Mason took the opening kickoff of the half up-field and made a quick cut in the middle before taking it up the sideline and cutting across field for a 97 yard return. After being stoned on three straight plays, the Michigan offense finally pounded the ball in from three yards out. That opened the flood gates, as Henne and senior Braylon Edwards got in sync and each notched what would be career days.
Their first TD connection came after a pressured Henne spotted a wide open Edwards behind the defense and lofted the ball high and long for the 69 yard touchdown. They hooked up again on the next series when Edwards made a fabulous adjustment on a Henne pass to the endzone for a 38 yard score. When all was said and done, Henne was 17/21 for 317 yards and 3 touchdowns and Edwards had 8 receptions for 166 yards and 2 touchdowns.
The defense had another stellar effort, holding the offense 155 yards passing, 93 yards rushing, and 0-11 on 3rd downs. However, for the first time this season they did not force a turnover.
As the Wolverines come home to prepare for the Gophers, the rushing game will obviously be a point of emphasis. They were only able to muster 105 yards on 38 carries (2.8), the majority of which were gained by Hart (20 rushes, 79 yards, 1 TD). One of the most telling offensive series was the opening possession of second half when it took the Wolverines 4 tries to punch the ball into the endzone from three yards out. Two of those plays were QB sneaks in which the offensive line got no movement.