|Photo: Melanie Maxwell, MLive|
The start of today’s meeting between Michigan and Indiana may have looked familiar to most UofM fans watching, and you wouldn’t have to jog one’s memory too far back to identify that churning stomach, dry mouth feeling, because it was basically what the Wolverine faithful had experienced in the second half of last week’s Iowa game.
On the defensive side of things, Michigan wasn’t exactly shutting Indiana’s offense down the way they had shut other offenses down in the first half of the season, but they were playing well enough to keep the game where they wanted it. The offense however, had Wolverine fans checking their liquor cabinets to make sure they had enough supplies for what could be a very long night. The first half of this game offensively seemed to blend with the second half of last week’s in this weird Twilight Zone sort of way. The run game was inconsistent at best, and pass protection looked like the offensive line had never played a game together.
As the seconds ticked off the clock in the second quarter, which had been a quarter that Michigan had flat out dominated all season, you had to scratch your head, or your nose in Harbaugh’s case, and wonder just what on God’s green earth UofM had to do to right this ship!? Was it the play calling? Were they using too many running backs? Were they using enough of the passing playbook? Whatever it was, everyone watching knew that Harbaugh and Co. had halftime to figure it out, or all that this team had dreamed of, all the goals that they’d worked so hard to achieve, would melt away like a November snowflake on a hot dog.
The third quarter started almost exactly the same way the second quarter ended, and halfway through the quarter, pretty much the only sound that could be heard from the 110,000 plus mass of humanity, was the chattering of their teeth. Then with under 5 minutes to play in the third, John O’Korn split two defenders on a third down to rumble for 30 yards. He bounced up and down, yelling and clinching his fists. The crowd began to chant, “LET’S GO BLUE!!!” And on the very next play, De’Veon Smith blazed past the Hoosier front seven and 34 yards later, leapt passed the pylon in the south end zone for one of the biggest touchdowns any Wolverine’s scored all season. He then decided to put the Michigan offense on his back in the second half, picking up 111 of his 158 yards on the day in the third and fourth quarters. His 2 TDs and Kenny Allen’s 33 yard field goal were enough to get this team and its seniors to The Game in Columbus with every preseason dream and aspiration there for the taking.
As the clock wound down in the fourth quarter, and the gently falling snow floated past the lights of Michigan Stadium, the cheerleaders made snow angles and the crowd broke into a spirited cry of, “BEAT OHIO!!!”