Jim Harbaugh recaps Michigan’s 31-20 win over Indiana, says Wolverines have been in ‘playoff mode.’ Recorded Nov. 17, 2018.
Nick Baumgardner, Freep
Looking back at what happened in Michigan football‘s 31-20 win over Indiana, and a look ahead to Saturday’s Big Ten East title game at Ohio State:
What we learned vs. Indiana
Michigan has plenty to work on this week, so overconfidence certainly won’t be an issue. The Wolverines gave up some chunks through the middle of their defense at times Saturday and struggled to finish drives with touchdowns on offense. This was a sloppy game at times, as the Wolverines had to settle for six field goals in a 31-20 win. That’s a lot of points left on the field. And something that cannot happen Saturday when the Wolverines head to Columbus for a chance to win the Big Ten East.
Quinn Nordin was apparently under the weather. And true freshman Jake Moody just set a program record with six made field goals. U-M is heading into its biggest game of the season with a freshman that appears to have a hot hand (or foot?) at the moment while Nordin, a redshirt sophomore, has missed four of his last seven attempts. Jim Harbaugh wouldn’t commit to Moody as his starter after the game. Saying “we’ll see.” This could be an interesting wrinkle at Ohio State.
If Winovich’s upper body injury keeps him out of Saturday’s game at Ohio State, that’s a serious blow for Michigan. An impossible obstacle? No. But a challenge nonetheless. U-M does have defensive end depth with Kwity Paye and Josh Uche. But if Winovich is out or limited then Rashan Gary is going to have to be ready to play the entire game without much of a break. Gary got a lot of reps Saturday against Indiana, his third game back from a shoulder injury. Michigan will need Gary at his best next week, either way.
Next up: Ohio State
Matchup: No. 4 Michigan (10-1, 8-0 Big Ten) at No. 10 Ohio State (10-1, 7-1).
When: Noon, Saturday.
Where: Ohio Stadium; Columbus, Ohio.
TV/radio: Fox; WWJ-AM (950), WTKA-AM (1050).
Know the foe
Ohio State’s had a drama-filled season complete with an injury to its best player (Nick Bosa) and enough off-the-field issues to fill multiple years. Yet the Buckeyes are still 10-1. Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins has been the best passer of the Urban Meyer era by far, but his inability to run the ball has taken most of Ohio State’s balance away offensively. The offense is still explosive, as evidenced by the 688 yards it put up in a 52-51 overtime win over Maryland. The defense? Well that score says a lot. Ohio State’s had problems all over the place defensively this season, but has continued to find a way. Ohio State’s still Ohio State: Loaded with talent and led by Meyer, one of the most successful head coaches in the game.
Three things to watch
Michigan has been the better team this season. The Wolverines are better defensively by a wide margin, they’re more balanced offensively and more steady overall. But they haven’t won a game in Columbus since 2000 and the mental ghosts can get pretty tough down there when things get difficult. Michigan has shown plenty of mental resolve this season, but Saturday should be the Wolverines’ biggest challenge to date.
More on U-M: Grades: Wolverines sloppy but grind past Indiana
U-M has put a lot of stuff on film offensively this season. And Saturday will no doubt be an exercise in putting most all of it on the table. Michigan’s quarterback run game with Shea Patterson has been terrific over the past month and Ohio State has had more than its share of defensive issues. The Wolverines can win this game the same way they’ve won the last 10: Possess the ball, finish drives and let your defense fly around.
Getting to Haskins
Michigan has to get after Haskins in this game. If he’s allowed to stand in a comfortable pocket, he’s more than talented enough to pick a defense apart. Even Michigan’s secondary. This is the best passer the Wolverines have seen all season. But he’s not the most mobile. When he’s pressured, things can change. And when Ohio State’s one dimensional, it can struggle. U-M has to take the run away and get after Haskins in this game.
Contact Nick Baumgardner: firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @nickbaumgardner.