Wolverines finally can focus on Ohio State
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Linebacker David Harris didn't admit to it. Cornerback Leon Hall gave the company line. Wide receiver Steve Breaston wouldn't confess. Michigan coach Lloyd Carr almost gave it up.
Someone asked whether, before No. 2 Michigan completed its 34-3 rout of Indiana, the coach's thoughts veered toward No. 1 Ohio State and the showdown of undefeateds next Saturday.
"I don't think I'd talk about that if it happened," Carr said, a grin stealing upon his lined face.
"There was a time in there when we were able to begin to substitute that, uh, um, yeah, there are some thoughts that -- they're there and you try to get rid of them," Carr said.
Say it, Lloyd. Say it!
Leave it to junior tailback Mike Hart, with his 100-watt grin and a tongue nearly as fast as his feet, to say the obvious.
As the Wolverines trotted off the field Saturday evening, their fans in the northeast corner of Memorial Stadium chanted, "Beat the Buckeyes! Beat the Buckeyes!" The players responded with raised helmets. They held their confidence high, too.
A week after a lackluster 34-26 defeat of Ball State, the Wolverines had something to prove to themselves. They left the locker room at full speed on both sides of the ball.
• The offense took the opening kickoff and drove 10 plays for a touchdown.
• The defense held the Hoosiers to a three-and-out for minus-8 yards.
• The offense drove 11 plays for a touchdown.
• The defense held the Hoosiers to a three-and-out for minus-1 yard.
Michigan scored on long drives. Michigan scored on a big play, a 62-yard pass from Chad Henne to Breaston. Michigan scored on special teams, an 83-yard punt return by Breaston. Both are career highs for the senior.
The defense didn't score, but it also didn't let Indiana inside the Wolverines 20-yard-line. That's not unusual. In Michigan's 11 games, opponents have reached the red zone only 17 times.
Indiana had a victory of sorts for a little while. The Hoosiers rushed for 33 yards in the first half, nearly 3 more than the Wolverines' average of 30.3 rushing yards allowed. Alas, Indiana had minus-7 yards rushing in the second half and finished with 26 yards on the ground. Michigan's average lowered to 30.0.
In so many ways, the victory over Indiana provided ideal preparation for Ohio State. Wide receiver Mario Manningham caught his first pass in five weeks. The Michigan defense got a game's worth of work against a Troy Smith-like quarterback. Kellen Lewis tried to scramble, but the Wolverines sacked him five times and hurried him so often that his longest completion gained 12 yards.
In other words, not to worry, Michigan fans. Your team begins The Week in great shape.
Ivan Maisel is a senior writer for ESPN.com. Send your questions and comments to Ivan at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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