|[Melanie Maxwell, MLive.com]|
In the end, Michigan found a way to win. It was ugly all over, but it was a win. And in a conference where the league schedule's for the east's top 3 teams are back-loaded with marquee games, just winning is rewarded with continued title hopes for not only the Big Ten but the college football playoff.
Now, it gets interesting. Michigan State and Ohio State control their destiny. Michigan needs Ohio State's help. You definitely get the feeling that the real Big Ten season begins this weekend. Michigan is right in the thick of it, too. Right where they belong...which is a pretty great feeling.
Captains @_JBolden35 and @JKerridge36 delivering the game ball to Chad. #ChadTough pic.twitter.com/fjL9SPH0Iz— Zach Eisendrath (@zeisendrath) November 15, 2015
Players, coaches, fans, media...everyone has had 5-year old Chad Carr in their thoughts and prayers ever since his diagnosis last fall...but especially on Saturday afternoon. The young grandson of former coach Lloyd Carr who's been valiantly battling a brain tumor for just over a year was placed in hospice care last week. Since then the outpouring of support from all corners of the Michigan football universe has been remarkable.When you dedicate a game to someone you better win it! #ChadTough what we had to do and overcome pales by comparison. Inspired by Chad!— John Baxter (@CoachJohnBaxter) November 15, 2015
As the dad of a 5-year old boy myself, its been absolutely heartbreaking to watch Chad and his family go through this. No one should have to endure what he has, let alone a little boy. If there's any silver-lining to this it's that Chad has touched so many lives through his family's willingness to be so open about the struggle of going through this horrible tragedy. Through his family's efforts, they've helped raise more awareness and funding for pediatric brain cancer research.
They say no one fights cancer alone, and in Chad's case, that is absolutely true. Yesterday, today and tomorrow...we're all with you Chad. We're all pulling for #ChadTough.
It's such a cliche, but I don't care. Jake Rudock has moxie. I'm not even sure exactly what moxie even is, but he has it.
In the presser after the game, with his Iowa corn-boy smile and that aww-shucks demeanor, Jake's humble attitude maked him instantly likable. He's quickly developed into a quarterback who could not be more comfortable in this offense. I'm not a QB guru, but you know it when you see it, and Jake Rudock definitely flipped a switch after his injury in the Minnesota game.
9/3 - 10/31
11/7 - 11/14
|Att / Comp||134 / 217||51 / 71|
|Yds per Att.||6.7||11.6|
|TDs / INTs||5 / 6||8 / 1|
His numbers weren't bad before the injury, but they've definitely jumped up to another level since then. Maybe it was the heat felt by Wilton Speight, or maybe just the realization that this season is his last shot. Whatever it was, it worked. Jake is playing at a level not seen from a quarterback in Ann Arbor since Chad Henne or senior-year John Navarre.
The Good, the bad and the ugly
In the post-game presser, Jim Harbaugh said this game was "the good, the bad and the ugly". That pretty much sums it up.
The Good: Jake Rudock and Jehu Chesson's banner day...reminiscent of Devin Gardner and Jeremy Gallon two years ago against this very Indiana team. Amara Darboh's possession receptions, especially in the 3rd quarter. Blake O'Neill's saves on bad snaps from Scott Sypniewski. The secondary, which was tested downfield all day and managed to keep Nate Sudfeld from getting into any sort of passing rhythm.
The Bad: Darboh drops. Offensive line blocking was shoddy all day. Indiana's defensive front is their strength, but it was stunning just how well their played. The defensive line was pushed around, and really missed Ryan Glasgow. Those guys were dragging by the end of the game. De'Veon Smith running with no urgency and not hitting holes. Play calling was iffy at times, with Michigan trying to do things that made little sense (the pitch to Drake Johnson on the 2nd to last play of regulation, a few screen plays that lost substantial yards).
The Ugly. Bad penalties all day...lots of false starts/offsides which is alarming in the 10th game of the season. Very bad tackling from all parts of the defense all day...and special teams on the IU punt return for a touchdown in the 3rd quarter. Run defense was laughable late in the game.
Survive and advance
If I'm Michigan, I take this win and move on. Burn the game tape. I mean it was cool to see Rudock play so well, but from a defensive perspective, I don't put a ton of weight on this performance. Indiana is a weird opponent that runs an offense Michigan doesn't really see ever. Michigan's defense is probably still good at what they're good at, but they're just not good at this.
Michigan still has a ton to play for with all of their goals well within their reach. If Ohio State beats Michigan State (which they should) and Michigan can beat Penn State, it creates a showdown in Ann Arbor in two weeks against the Buckeyes for a shot at Indy and the B1G title game...and then possibly the college football playoff.
Can you believe the CFB playoff is even an option with two weeks left in the season after where Michigan was a year ago at this time? Helluva coaching job by Harbaugh and his staff to put Michigan in this position so quickly.
The Indiana experience
Before the game, I wandered around and snapped some random pics (click to embiggen).
I wandered into Assembly Hall and found some old team photos featuring a pretty un-photogenic Bobby Knight. Couldn't get to the court though.
This was my first road game of the season and my 9th overall as a pseudo-media person...and this was my first Michigan win witnessed on the road. For a while there on Saturday, I was close to never doing this ever again. And after this two overtime thriller, I'm still on the fence. But I will say that going on the road and winning has a certain feeling to it that you just don't get at home...there's a real value to a road win and you can feel the difference.
In terms of road venues for Michigan fans, Indiana's is pretty good. The stadium is small, very accessible and Michigan-fan friendly (you could see on TV, Michigan was well represented in the stands). Indiana fans are cordial...almost too cordial if you know what I mean. The tailgating scene was actually pretty good because the weather was perfect for a mid-November Saturday, but IU fans don't really tailgate like other places I've been.
Like I said before, the stands were filled with maize & blue...I'd say at least 1/3 of the overall crowd, with some pretty empty areas in the higher up sections. What was really odd, and as I found out later is a pretty common occurrence in Bloomington, a fairly large amount of Indiana fans only stick around for the first half. I noticed during halftime, a steady stream of Hoosier fans making their way out to their cars, which was something I've never seen anywhere else.
The drive from SE Michigan to Bloomington is pretty easy but also expectedly boring as most mid-western road trips to small college towns are. Its about 5-6 hours straight through depending on traffic around Indianapolis.