Michigan tops IU in overtime, 27-20

An emotional Tom Allen clutched both sides of the podium during his post-game press conference, digging at the carpet with the toe of his right shoe.

The Indiana coach was visibly touched by his team’s will and resolve, the Hoosiers’ ability to answer a fourth-quarter deficit and force overtime against one of the nation’s top-ranked defenses.

But make no mistake. This loss stung.

IU had yet another opportunity Saturday to topple a ranked Big Ten opponent. Yet again, the Hoosiers were met with a familiar result.

The Hoosiers yielded a 25-yard touchdown run to Michigan running back Karan Higdon on the first play of overtime and failed to respond in a 27-20 loss to the No. 17 Wolverines before an announced sellout crowd at Memorial Stadium.

“We fought our tails off and we tied the game up to go to overtime and had a chance to win and beat a top-20 team in the country,” Allen said. “And I’m proud of our team for that. But my heart breaks for these guys, because they have worked so hard and they believe so much and they deserve the opportunity to come out with a win. That’s why I hurt for them.”

So it goes for Indiana, which has seen far too many games end with a similar sense of disappointment.
All considered, Saturday was a mostly uneven performance.

Their defense uncharacteristically missed several tackles that paved the way for Higdon, who finished with 200 yards and three rushing scores.

Their offense struggled to find traction and their special teams units also failed to play a clean game.

Despite a crucial punt return from J-Shun Harris late in regulation and a game-tying field goal in the final seconds from kicker Griffin Oakes, the field goal protection also broke down during the first half, leading to a first-quarter block on Oakes’ 51-yard attempt.

So for all the good things Indiana did on Saturday, there were an equal amount of frustrating components that led to the program’s 22nd consecutive loss to Michigan.

This defeat, and the way it was lost, was all too familiar.

“We gave it everything we had,” safety Chase Dutra said. “We’ve got to keep fighting.”

The Hoosiers fought well enough to overcome a poor first 20 minutes from their typically reliable defense.
Michigan ran through the IU front, building a 13-0 lead on a pair of Quinn Nordin field goals (40 and 38 yards) and a 12-yard run from Higdon, who bounced to the outside and found the end zone five minutes into the second quarter.

Just as IU’s defense appeared at its most porous, Michigan couldn’t follow the rules.

The Wolverines were penalized 11 times for 98 yards during the first half, and at one point, they drew flags for three separate infractions on a single play.

But this was Michigan opening doors that Indiana couldn’t seem to walk through.

Trailing by 10 points at halftime, the Hoosiers got within 13-10 on Morgan Ellison’s eight-yard touchdown run three minutes into the third quarter. It was a product of IU’s most impressive drive of the day, a possession that featured a 31-yard burst from Ellison and some nice moves from Luke Timian, who danced around for a 19-yard gain that put Indiana on the door step.

The Hoosiers couldn’t build off that strong series, however, following it with five consecutive three-and-outs. In the meantime. Higdon ran untouched through the Indiana defense for a 59-yard touchdown sprint that gave the Wolverines a 20-10 lead and appeared to be the back breaker five minutes into the fourth quarter.

Indiana kept fighting.

Harris returned a punt 53 yards to the Michigan 20, and Ramsey completed a six-play drive with an eight-yard connection with freshman Whop Philyor to get the Hoosiers within three points.

Oakes’ field goal in the final moments of regulation sent the contest to overtime.

“We just took our time and settled down a little bit and got into the flow of the game again,” Ramsey said. “Once we stopped that drought, I think we got into a rhythm and that helped us out a lot.”

But the momentum was short lived once Higdon took the first snap of overtime and ran left, straight into the end zone.

“Everyone was there,” Dutra said of IU’s play coverage. “We had him in the backfield for a three-, four-yard loss or whatever it was. He shifted around, got outside and we lost contain on the edge. He just broke it down the sideline. It was disappointing.”

So, too, was IU’s lone overtime drive.

The Hoosiers got to the Michigan 1-yard line on Ellison’s two-yard first down dive three plays in. But against the nation’s most effective short-yardage defense, the Hoosiers couldn’t get any closer.

IU tried to run twice, but lost a total of three yards. Ramsey had Harris open in the corner of the end zone, but he misfired.

The right-handed Ramsey was also out of options on the day’s final play, rolling to his left, only to heave it into a pack of Michigan defenders for a game-ending interception.

“You try to punch it in there with running the football a couple of times, and then take a couple throws (and) try to move the pocket,” Allen said. “You can’t sit back there. They are bringing pressure, which is both edges, and really just kind of playing Cover 0, man, and just kind of daring you to win the one-on-ones. Weren’t able to win those, unfortunately.”


  1. Interesting how almost all the close calls go to the ranked team with the better reputation. There’s just something about the psychology of referees that creates a bias that favors the higher ranked team. IU certainly didn’t get any breaks from the refs today. All the close calls went against us, and a few non-calls were simply horrendous. Allen had every right to be apoplectic.

  2. The biggest problem is UM had athletes that matched/overmatcched our athletes. Yes some calls went against IU but we didn’t produce enough plays to win the game. IU had plenty of plays during the game, a # of 3 and outs by the defense, a good punt return, and plays to score in the 4th quarter. IU will struggle to win these games until they get some special athletes and not just good athletes. I like the way the team fought to the end of the game unfotunately the game didn’t end there.

  3. Yes, Podunker I agree with you there was some poor referees calls in this game, but you can never blame the referees for blowing the game. Everything was “EVEN” going into overtime, and IU football did its normal, fail to breakthrough. But, I am giving this team a very good grade for staying very competitive in this game, something I did not think they where capable of doing. Considering the difference in overall talent level IU was very competitive. Tom Allen IU team did well today, I just really hated the last few offensive plays. Overall the defense played fairly well, but the offense struggled.

  4. It may not be the reason IU lost, but the refs’ performance today was a significant contributing factor. Fant’s INT getting wiped out was huge. The no-call when Cobbs was being held and getting mugged in the end zone at the end of the game was huge. I could go on.

  5. V. Exactly. I have said this for over 50 years (a couple of those years IU did well with good athletes). You essentially have a 4 star team that has ability to be up 10 after a bunch of penalties by half time playing against a 3 star team trying to hang in there. (3 star team with glaring qb lack of talent at that position. IU can’t do that. Overtime displays that 4 playing 3 star again because plays made it glaring. Mich 4 stars can elevate their play more than IU 3 star team. (example Mich back gets bottled up in backfield. No problem. He just bounced outside running for TD). Mich has a few backs that can do that. IU does not. Even if IU scored a TD from the one yard line in overtime to tie game or go for win with 2 point conversation the odds of winning were still very small due to 4 star vs. 3 star talent and lack of qb talent. IU receivers are neutralized not by opponent defense but lack of qb talent. It is sad. Having said all this IU has lost to 3 of the toughest teams in the country. Upsets do happen.

  6. Refs did not hurt IU any more than Mich. T. Scales though unintentional caught a little break on targeting. Plus Ramsey caught a break or two that could have been called intentional grounding.

  7. IU has its chances to win especially in OT as one of the three runs Ramsey should have kept the ball on the read and walked into the endzone. He also missed the receiver open early in the short zone along the goal line. Cobbs and Mack can’t get manhandled by UM corners and need to be playmakers if IU is to break through. The defense got hurt the most with 2nd teamers in the game which isn’t looking good for next year. IU needs to upgrade their roster and there are signs they will start to with the 2018 class with one 4 star RB listed as #8 in the country along with several recruits rated in the upper 3 star range. It will take even better classes in the future to really give IU the horses to be an upper level B1G team that can win championships.

  8. Even IU Rose Bowl team long ago was not a dominant team but offense found a way to win and they played defense well.
    Maybe, sometime within the next 50 years IU could be up there competing for one and at most for a couple championships. However, a more realistic goal might be an occasional 8+ win season, several 7 win seasons, several 6 win seasons and the rest 5- win seasons. I see that has a ceiling and IU has not consistently come all that close to that throughout its history. This is not a slight on IU. Unfortunately unless the big ten east and west are divided more evenly There are very very few teams in the country that could do much better. IU has one legitimately good win this year against Virginia and were competitive at times against OSU and Mich (aided by Mich penalties). So they beat 2 lower world of football teams and one good football team on the road. I am not to sure they beat Virginia now at least not as soundly as they beat them. Big ten east has 3 traditional powerhouse teams among the 7 teams and one a lesser football power and that team being MSU would often compete for championship in the big ten west. Traditionally, the equality of west vs. east is not close. Wisconsin has been on a long run since Avarez took over (I remember a game IU 3 Wisconsin 0). Wisconsin has been on and off good before Avarez. Nebraska is not what they use to be and have found some rough sledding in big ten. Iowa has some good sustainable runs but hardly an elite national power. Northwestern has some good seasons but not a national power. Among 7 teams in the big ten east for the past 50 years and over 3 of those teams are traditional national powers

  9. I posted in another story asking if anyone knew why #31 Tyler Natee who is a 260# RB doesn’t get any touches, especially around the GOAL LINE.

  10. I asked the same question a couple weeks ago about Natee. Jeremy answered injury. Does anyone know what it is (season ending?) At goal line could have used him as decoy or blocker for Ramsey going wide which was there anyway if he would have took it. IU still would have trailed by 1 and whether go for 1 or 2 slim chance of winning by what I was observing because athletes against athletes solidly favored Mich.

  11. The conference does need to do something about the inequality of the two divisions but I hold no hope they are going to restructure. Their are people calling for scheduling based on pods as several conference have this inequality. Whether the pods concept gains any ground we will have to wait and see.

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