Much like their rivals to the south, Michigan didn’t exactly dominate inferior competition in this penultimate Saturday, but the No. 3 Wolverines did enough to pull away for a 20-10 win over Indiana in Ann Arbor.
Playing without starting quarterback Wilton Speight, who dressed and warmed up, the Wolverines offense struggled to get much going outside of De'Veon Smith rushes. Thankfully for the maize and blue, though, Smith was at his best: 22 carries for 160 yards and two third quarter touchdowns that provided the margin in the game.
Trailing 10-6 with just over four minutes left in the third quarter, Smith bobbed and weaved for a 34-yard touchdown dash to give the Wolverines the lead. After the Wolverines’ defense forced a punt inside Indiana territory, Smith, playing his final game at Michigan Stadium, raced 39 yards for an insurance touchdown with 29 seconds left in the third quarter.
John O’Korn earned the start — his first since playing for Houston in 2014 — and completed only 7-of-16 passes for 59 yards on the day. Some of that was due to the elements — snow flurries blanketed the Big House turf for the entire game, and graduated into a driving snowstorm in the fourth quarter — but much of it was just that O’Korn struggled to throw the ball.
But where the Michigan offense struggled, its defense and special teams picked up the slack. Indiana (5-6, 3-5 Big Ten) completed 13-of-27 passes for only 180 yards and managed only 80 rushing yards on 35 attempts. The Wolverines also blocked a punt, their sixth blocked kick of the season.
The win pushes Michigan to 10-1 on the season — clinching the program’s first back-to-back 10-win campaigns since 2003-04 — and keeps the club in the driver’s seat to play in its first Big Ten title game. All they’ll have to do is win in Columbus for the first time since 2000.