BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) — No. 4 Michigan won Saturday with heart for Mike Hart.
After the running game coordinator collapsed on the sideline in the first quarter, the Wolverines regrouped at halftime, returned to Wolverines football and performed like Hart wanted.
Cornelius Johnson’s 29-yard touchdown reception early in the third quarter gave Michigan the lead and the jolt it needed Saturday to celebrate a 31-10 victory over pesky Indiana without their beloved coach.
“During the game Mike had a medical emergency, he’s in stable condition and he’s going to stay overnight here in Bloomington for observation,” head coach Jim Harbaugh said. “Talking about Mike and his health, all our prayers go out to him.”
Hart’s absence dampened a historic day for the Wolverines (3-0 Big Ten) who improved to 6-0 for the second straight season — something they last did in 1976-77.
But the frightening, first-quarter sideline scene certainly took its toll on Michigan.
The school’s career rushing leader went down unexpectedly moments after the Hoosiers tied the score at 7, prompting Michigan’s players to clear the bench and spread out across the field. Some dropped to one knee as Harbaugh and other staff members watched trainers strap Hart to a backboard before carting him off the field.
Hart flashed the thumbs up sign before leaving Memorial Stadium and heading to a hospital.
Michigan wasn’t the same afterward.
The two teams traded field goals and blocked field goals before settling for a 10-10 halftime tie. The Wolverines didn’t reassert control until Johnson capped a 98-yard drive to start the second half with the first of two touchdown catches.
It was exactly what Michigan needed. Luke Schoonmaker and Johnson each caught fourth-quarter TD passes to seal the victory on a day J.J. McCarthy produced his first 300-yard game. The sophomore quarterback finished 28 of 36 with 304 yards, three TDs and one interception.
“It was good to see the young quarterback come of age today,” Harbaugh said. “Tough game, tight game, couldn’t lean on the ground game today and he did it.”
The Wolverines second-half defense was equally dominant. It allowed just 29 total yards in the second half and constantly harassed Indiana quarterback Connor Bazelak. Michigan finished with seven sacks.
Indiana (3-3, 1-2) lost its third straight and coach Tom Allen wasn’t pleased with how his team played the final 15 minutes.
“We had a chance in the fourth quarter against the fourth-ranked team in the country, a really good team, and didn’t finish,” Allen said. “That’s highly disappointing. Scoring zero points in the second half is not enough and it’s got to change.”
Allen also had Hart on his staff from 2017-20 and walked across the field to see Hart before he left the stadium. McCarthy said the Wolverines awarded a game game ball to their running backs coach, and Harbaugh acknowledged Hart would be missed on the trip home.
“We’ll move on with humble hearts,” Harbaugh said. “It’s great to have the win and continue to pray for Mike. He’s a strong guy, I have all the faith in the world in Mike Hart.”
Michigan: The Wolverines have faced some strong tests in this series recently and they did again Saturday. But Michigan, clearly, did not play its best ball as the nation’s sixth-best scoring offense struggled to score.
Indiana: Allen’s team played its best first half of the season but still hasn’t played a complete game all season. The defense and special teams, as usual, kept Indiana close. What they’re lacking: a consistent offense.
Michigan is still unbeaten but it’s shield of invincibility took a major hit against an Indiana team that wasn’t even at full strength on offense or defense. The powerful ground game was mostly stymied. The constant has been the defense, and it was every bit as good as advertised. It will be interesting to see if the voters punish Michigan for a less-than-stellar showing.
Michigan: Ronnie Bell had 11 receptions for 121 yards while Schoonmaker caught nine passes for 67 yards. Blake Corum rushed for 124 yards on 25 carries, picking up 50 on his first run of the day. Corum also had a 1-yard TD run, his 11th of the season.
Indiana: Bazelak was 25 of 49 with 203 yards, one TD and one interception. Freshman Jaylin Lucas had four carries for 45 yards on a day, the Hoosiers ran 25 times for 19 yards. Emery Simmons caught seven passed for 57 yards and Josh Henderson caught an 11-yard TD pass.
Michigan: Returns home next Saturday for a showdown with No. 10 Penn State.
Indiana: Welcomes Maryland to Bloomington next Saturday.