ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Few gave Indiana football a shot on the road against No. 4 Michigan. The majority of those believers most likely had ties to Bloomington, too.
And for a half the minority looked like they backed the right upset candidate. IU led, 17-15, after two quarters and appeared to have all the momentum. But then the Wolverines (10-1, 8-0 in Big Ten) took the lead back and started to pull away. Indiana didn’t go away quietly, but what it was able to muster wasn’t enough.
Here’s how IU (5-6, 2-6) lost, 31-20, and found itself looking ahead to another Old Oaken Bucket game against Purdue that would decide both teams’ postseason fates:
Pass defense miscues
Too often Michigan receivers found themselves not just open, but open to a glaring degree. So open it might have led to Shea Patterson, who finished with 250 yards passing and one touchdown for the Wolverines, not throwing his best ball to tight end Zach Gentry in the second quarter and missing a touchdown opportunity because it was so unexpected. The ball fell incomplete in the end zone.
When Patterson was able to control his throws and act with poise in the pocket, he took advantage of a number of opportunities. Four passes of his went for more than 30 yards, he averaged 15.6 yards per completion and exited having completed 57 percent of his passes.
Turnovers never help a cause. Neither do penalties. And IU suffered both in moments that effectively wasted drives that could have led to go-ahead scores for the Hoosiers.
Redshirt sophomore quarterback Peyton Ramsey was picked off on a fourth-down conversion attempt in Michigan territory in the first quarter. Freshman running back Stevie Scott fumbled in the third quarter to end another drive that made it across midfield. Then, after Patterson’s lone interception in the third quarter, offensive lineman Simon Stepaniak earned an unsportsmanlike penalty for conduct after a play. IU had made it to the Michigan 29-yard line.
Against a team like Michigan, these can play a significant part in determining the outcome of a game. And they did.
Karan Higdon and crew
IU ran the ball effectively. Stevie Scott set a new record for rushing yards by a freshman in a season with 1,033 after a 139-yard day and the Hoosiers tallied 190 total on the ground. Ramsey ran for 51 yards.
But the Wolverines had quite the day running the ball, too. Michigan posted 257 yards to help balance its attack and allow coach Jim Harbaugh’s squad to call just about any play it wanted in a short-yardage situation. Patterson got into the act, too. He tallied 68 yards while Karan Higdon led the way for Michigan win 101.
In total, the Hoosiers allowed the Wolverines to gain 507 yards of total offense and hold onto the ball for 35:54 of the game. IU had the ball for just 24:06.
Follow IndyStar sports reporter Jordan Guskey on Twitter at @JordanGuskey or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
No. 4 Michigan 31, Indiana 20
Indiana 7 10 0 3 — 20
Michigan 3 12 10 6 — 31
MICH—FG Moody 32, 10:41
IU—Scott 13 run (Justus kick), 4:14
MICH—FG Moody 30, 14:15
MICH—FG Moody 31, 9:56
IU—FG Justus 41, 7:39
MICH—Eubanks 41 pass from Patterson (pass failed), 4:46
IU—Fryfogle 7 pass from Ramsey (Justus kick), 1:33
MICH—Higdon 2 run (Moody kick), 9:44
MICH—FG Moody 33, 2:08
MICH—FG Moody 23, 9:55
IU—FG Justus 36, 6:10
MICH—FG Moody 29, 2:37
RUSHING—Indiana, Scott 30-139, Ramsey 7-51, Ball 1-3, Walker 2-(minus 3). Michigan, Higdon 21-101, Patterson 9-68, Evans 10-44, T.Wilson 6-42, Mason 2-5.
PASSING—Indiana, Ramsey 16-35-1-195. Michigan, Patterson 16-28-1-250.
RECEIVING—Indiana, Timian 6-62, Westbrook 4-84, Fryfogle 2-13, R.Taylor 1-22, Scott 1-8, Majette 1-4, Hale 1-2. Michigan, Collins 3-32, Gentry 2-83, Peoples-Jones 2-30, Perry 2-12, Eubanks 1-41, Bell 1-31, Higdon 1-6, Edwards 1-5, Black 1-5, Evans 1-4, McKeon 1-1.
MISSED FIELD GOALS—None.