In a game more reminiscent of Arena Football, Indiana and Michigan went up and down the field with ease Saturday at the "Big House" in Ann Arbor. Alas, the hapless Hoosier defense allowed Michigan to set both school and Big Ten records in a 63-47 loss that causes more "what ifs" than answers.
With the defeat, IU dips to under .500 at 3-4 overall, 1-2 in the Big Ten, What if the Hoosiers had at least a serviceable defense? The Hoosiers offense can score points with the best of them, buoyed by a talented wide receiving unit and a potential gamebreaker in running back Tevin Coleman.
But the defense is another story. Saturday, versatile Wolverines QB Devin Gardner enjoyed perhaps the finest game of his career, throwing for 503 yards and two touchdowns while also running for 81 yards and three scores. Gardners total yardage of 584 set a Michigan reocrd, as did the Wolverines total yardage of 751. To add insult to injury, Michigan wide receiver Jeremy Gallon set a Big Ten record with 369 yards receiving as the Wolverines improved to 5-1 overall and 2-1 in the Big Ten.
Afterwards, a perplexed IU head coach Kevin Wilson offered his thoughts on how the Hoosiers must address their defensive shortcomings. “We’ve got to look at schematics, giving too much time to throw. Then we (blitzed), we didn’t get home; we missed tackles when we were there to make the play. Of course 98 is a nice player; Devin (Gardner) can make some plays with his feet and made us look foolish a couple of times. We’ll look at this during the open date about what we can do short term to give ourselves a chance."
IU shuffled between Nate Sudfeld and Tre Roberson at quarterback, and each had their moments. Sudfeld hit junior wide out Cody Latimer on a 59-yard touchdown pass to get the Hoosiers on the board first. Roberson rallied IU in the second quarter and appeared to have regained the form that made him a promising player before last season's broken leg sidelined him early in the season. Roberson finished 16-of-23 for 288 yards and three touchdowns, two to Shane Wynn, and an interception. Roberson also flashed his mobility, rushing 11 times for 50 yards and a touchdown.
In a wild back-and-forth game, IU closed to within one, at 35-34 on Mitch Ewald's 23-yard field goal, and later to 49-47. The Hoosiers caught a break when Gardner mishandled a snap at the IU 2 that LB David Cooper recovered, but couldn't take advantage. Sudfeld's long pass intended for Latimer was off-the-mark and picked by Michigan's Thomas Gordon. The Wolverines tacked on a pair of insurance scores to complete the scoring.
The Hoosiers will use a bye week to attempt to find answers as they enter a crucial stretch that will determine the outcome of their season. Next up is a Homecoming visit from Minnesota, surprise winners over Northwestern, on November 2.
Extra Points: Coleman and freshman safety Antonio Allen left the game due to injuries....Mitch Ewald's two field goals (50, 23) gave him 49 in his career, breaking the previous IU record of 48 set by Scott Bonnell (1989-92).