The Wolverines reached a milestone for the second time in Jim Harbaugh's tenure, but only the fourth time in the last 21 years -- a 10-game winning streak. Along the way, Michigan also finished undefeated at home, which it also did for the second time in the Harbaugh era (2016).
And the Wolverines accomplished it thanks to a balanced and prolific offense, which carried Michigan's vaunted defense for a change with a season-high 507 yards achieved via perfect balance (250 passing, 257 rushing). Shea Patterson was the catalyst. The junior quarterback did throw his first interception since the Maryland game, but otherwise might've been the best field on the player Saturday. Accounting for 63% of the Wolverines' total offense in the game. Teammate Karan Higdon chipped in another 100-yard rushing effort, too .
None of this would've been possible without the Michigan offensive line doing its job, as evidenced by the Hoosiers failing to record a sack or a single tackle-for-loss.
Then there's backup kicker Jake Moody, who was thrust into duty with Quinn Nordin under the weather. All Moody did after finding out during warm-ups he was the guy, was go out there and set a Michigan single-game record with six field goals. Of course, that many field goals is a double-edged sword. Which brings us to the bad...
The Wolverines had a season-high in total yards, and only punted once, but scored just 31 points. That's what happens when you have 7 -- count 'em, 7! -- drives reach the red zone without making it into the endzone. All six of Moody's field goals were 39 yards or shorter, and then there was the final drive of the first half. In which Michigan mismanaged the clock, thanks to a combination of terrible play-calling and the refs letting Indiana get away with a delay-of-game penalty for thwarting their attempt to spot the ball in the final seconds. If my math is correct, that's now 11 Michigan possessions in the last four games that reached plus territory but resulted in no points.
That's a trend that can cost teams championships.
While it was bound to happen, and our standards have probably become ridiculously high for that side of the ball, this was not a vintage effort for the Michigan defense. For the second consecutive weak an opponent rushed for nearly 200 yards. Indiana also had 21 first downs and completed better than 50% of its third downs. In fact, the Hoosiers had almost 250 yards of offense at halftime, which is well over Michigan's season-average allowed coming in.
However, the game's biggest negative were all the cheap shots delivered by the chippy Hoosiers. Two of them resulted in Chase Winovich and Berkeley Edwards leaving the game with what were feared to be serious injuries (though initial tests on Winovich were promising, according to Harbaugh). Rashan Gary and Higdon were targeted for cheap shots as well.
The Bottom Line
Indiana just knows how to play the Wolverines and it isn't intimidated by Michigan. That's been proven, particularly during Harbaugh's tenure. So with The Game on deck, Saturday was about survive and advance for the Wolverines. The defense that played Indiana, and the offense that kept stalling out in the red zone, probably isn't good enough to be the first Michigan team since 2000 to win in Columbus.
But the Michigan team we've seen most of this season is.