Michigan Survives vs. Indiana in 27-20 Overtime Victory

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistOctober 14, 2017

Michigan running back Karan Higdon scores a touchdown during the first half an NCAA college football game against Indiana in Bloomington, Ind., Saturday, Oct. 14, 2017. (AP Photo/AJ Mast)
AJ MAST/Associated Press

The No. 17 Michigan Wolverines were able to survive more offensive struggles and a late rally from the Indiana Hoosiers in a 27-20 overtime road victory on Saturday at Memorial Stadium in Bloomington. 

It was an ugly game that saw Michigan commit 16 penalties for 141 yards lost, but the Wolverines did just enough to run their record to 5-1.            

Michigan blew a 20-10 lead with less than four minutes left in regulation but earned the win in overtime thanks to running back Karan Higdon's 25-yard score on the first play.

Higdon entered Saturday with 201 yards and two touchdowns on 45 carries this season. The junior nearly surpassed those totals against the Hoosiers with 200 yards and three rushing touchdowns on 25 carries. 

Indiana had a chance to tie the score on its possession in overtime, even setting itself up with a first down at Michigan's 1-yard line. The Wolverines defense came up huge as Tyree Kinnel intercepted Hoosiers quarterback Peyton Ramsey's desperation heave into the end zone on fourth down. 

Offense remains a significant problem for the Wolverines. Quarterback John O'Korn has offered no relief since Wilton Speight went down in Week 4's game against the Purdue Boilermakers with a cracked vertebrae in his back.

Prior to last week's game against Michigan State in Ann Arbor, head coach Jim Harbaugh said he wanted to see O'Korn focused on preparation and ignoring the outside noise. 

"What somebody does to prepare themselves and understanding the game plan, understanding their opponents, putting themselves in the best position to be successful in that game," Harbaugh told reporters. "Not necessarily the outside factors of the game. Just the game."

After going 16-of-35 for 198 yards and three interceptions in a 14-10 Week 6 loss to the Spartans, O'Korn did nothing to show he's gaining confidence. 

He went just 10-of-20 for 58 yards against an Indiana defense that came into Saturday having allowed 94 points in its first two Big Ten games this season against Ohio State and Penn State. 

Mike Sullivan of 97.1 The Ticket wondered why Harbaugh and offensive coordinator Tim Drevno have not yet gone to Brandon Peters under center:

Chris Vannini of The Athletic offered one potential answer:

Ross Tucker of NBC Sports Network went after Harbaugh following the Wolverines' narrow win over Indiana:

The good news is Michigan got a breakout from Higdon to temporarily silence some of the questions.

The Big Ten Network highlighted his 59-yard score:

Harbaugh will have to find solutions to Michigan's inability to get out of its own way, however. The Wolverines entered Saturday tied for 83rd in the nation with seven penalties per game, and that average will go up after their penalties against Indiana. 

For all the problems facing the offense, Michigan's defense appeared ready to carry the load. The group had one bad series to start the second half when Indiana drove 64 yards on six plays and capped off the drive with Morgan Ellison's eight-yard score to make it 13-10.

The Big Ten Networked showed the run: 

Indiana's second touchdown was an eight-yard reception by Whop Philyor that a 53-yard punt return from J-Shun Harris II to Michigan's 20-yard line set up. 

Philyor's score cut Michigan's lead to 20-17 with 3:27 remaining. Indiana appeared to recover the ensuing onside kick, but the officials ruled Simmie Cobbs Jr. bobbled the ball before completing the catch with a foot in bounds. 

The Hoosiers were able to force Michigan into a three-and-out and drove 42 yards in 49 seconds to set up Griffin Oakes' 46-yard game-tying field goal. Maurice Hurst had blocked a 51-yard attempt in the first quarter. 

Last week, even though no one was using excuses, Michigan could say it struggled because it was raining, which made for an impossible track on the field against a good Michigan State team. 

One week later, with sunny skies in Bloomington, the Wolverines don't look like serious contenders for the 2018 College Football Playoff. They have a chance to prove themselves in Week 8 against Penn State on the road, but Harbaugh has a lot of work to do to get his team up to that level in seven days. 

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