Fresh off collapse, No. 9 Michigan needs rebound vs. Indiana

NCAA Football

Michigan showed it could move the football through the air on Saturday against rival Michigan State.

What the Wolverines couldn’t do was hold an 16-point, second-half lead, as they fell 37-33.

No. 9 Michigan (7-1, 4-1 Big Ten) will look to bounce back from the disappointing first loss of the season on Saturday when it hosts reeling Indiana.

“My approach is very similar to a fighter getting knocked down,” Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh said. “You get up, referee wipes your gloves, you get up even more determined, with even more resolve, to prepare, to work harder, to find a way to finish.”

Michigan quarterback Cade McNamara passed for 383 yards and two touchdowns before getting injured in the fourth quarter.

“Really played outstanding in almost every way,” Harbaugh said. “He played really well, made some throws, not just the best throws he’s ever made but some of the best throws you can make.”

The Wolverines have been most effective moving the ball on the ground this season, averaging a league-best 239.9 yards rushing per game. But with Michigan State taking the run away, Michigan showed the ability to adapt.

“This year’s 2021 Michigan football team is going to be defined by what’s already taken place and what they do this Saturday, what they do the Saturday after that, the Saturday after that and the Saturday after that,” Harbaugh said. “That’s what’s going to define us. So the resolve is to get back to work.”

The Wolverines’ loss did not harm their standing too much in the eyes of the College Football Playoff committee. Michigan debuted at No. 7 in the first CFP rankings of the season Tuesday night, one spot ahead of undefeated Oklahoma.

Indiana (2-6, 0-5) is coming off a 38-35 loss at Maryland. The Hoosiers have lost four straight and are still seeking their first conference win after notching six Big Ten wins in seven attempts a season ago.

“Just continue to be disappointed in our outcome from Saturday’s game,” Indiana coach Tom Allen said. “The guys took it hard. And a lot of emotion in that locker room afterwards. And the fight was there, just got to execute better.”

Five of the Hoosiers’ six losses this season have come against teams that were ranked in the Top 25 at the time of the matchup.

True freshman quarterback Donaven McCulley likely will make his second career start for Indiana, as starter Michael Penix Jr. (shoulder) and backup Jack Tuttle (foot) continue to rehab. McCulley set an Indiana true freshman passing yardage record in his first start, completing 14 of 25 passes for 242 yards and two touchdowns against Maryland.

“Really proud of him, his preparation and his ability to rise up in a road game, which is always hard for a young guy,” Allen said. “But encouraged by that. And not surprised though. I do think — I’ve said all along I thought he’s a really talented player that has a big upside. And his best football is ahead of him.”

Tight end Peyton Hendershot has emerged as one of Indiana’s top receivers with 35 catches for 447 yards and four scores this season. The senior caught two touchdown passes at Maryland, matching his career high set at Rutgers last year.

–Field Level Media

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