In the most basic sense, Michigan did what it needed to do needed to do on Saturday night. The Wolverines came away with a 31-20 win over Indiana to keep their playoff hopes alive heading into next weekend?s showdown with Ohio State.
And on a day where Alabama was tied with The Citadel at halftime and Ohio State needed overtime and an all-time bad pass to escape Maryland, that was the most important thing for Michigan.
But the win came at a significant cost for the Wolverines, and not just because of the uncomfortable margin of victory. Fifth year senior defensive end Chase Winovich was forced to exit in the third quarter after suffering an injury on a late hit from an Indiana offensive lineman. Junior linebacker Khaleke Hudson, Josh Metellus, Devin Bush, and David were also forced out with second half injuries, although all four returned later in the fourth quarter. None of the injuries? extents are currently known, but Winovich?s appears to be the most serious after he limped to the locker room with trainers, followed shortly after by his parents.
Fifth-year senior running back and special teams starter Berkley Edwards was also knocked out of the game in the fourth quarter with a head injury on a head-to-head hit. Edwards may not be as important to Michigan?s success against Ohio State as the other three but his injury is the most concerning, as he was carted off motionless after a long delay.
The result on the field wasn?t much prettier for Michigan, as the outcome remained in doubt well into the fourth quarter.
Much like against Rutgers last weekend, the Wolverines came out slow in the first quarter against an opponent most assumed that they would roll past. Their first drive stalled out at the Hoosier 14-yard line, prompting the first of six field goal attempts on the day for freshman kicker Jake Moody. Moody hit all six ? all under 35 yards ? in place of redshirt sophomore Quinn Nordin, who has been inconsistent all season.
Indiana used a lightning quick drive to get their first lead of the game five minutes later on a 13-yard touchdown run from running back Stevie Scott. The rest of the half see-sawed back and forth, with the teams trading leads four more times before the break. Moody hit two more field goals to give Michigan the lead, before Logan Justus? 41-yarder put the Hoosiers up one.
The Wolverines got their first touchdown of the day six plays later on a 41-yard touchdown reception for junior tight end Nick Eubanks ? the first of his career ? but failed on the following two-point conversion attempt. An Indiana touchdown on the next drive then restored the Hoosiers? lead before the half ended with Michigan unable to get a snap off inside the five-yard line.
The lead flipped for good early in the third quarter with a Karan Higdon touchdown. The second half was a better showing for Wolverines? defense, as they limited Indiana to just three points after the break, while Moody?s final three field goals sealed the win.
The extent to Michigan’s damage will not be known until its injuries are revealed later in the week but the Wolverines will be heading to Columbus next week more battered than they would like.
And despite the age-old saying, that makes it hard for this win to feel like one.