With 3 games left, Wolverines still hope for bowl
ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) With so much talk about what will happen at the end of this ugly season for Michigan football, it's easy to overlook that there's a month to go in the regular season.
The players - especially the seniors - don't have that luxury.
''They're playing for each other. They really have done a nice job of going to work,'' coach Brady Hoke said. ''They're no different than any Michigan fan, coaches or anybody else - they have high expectations.''
Michigan beat Indiana 34-10 on Saturday, a day after athletic director Dave Brandon's resignation was announced. That home victory in a game the Wolverines were favored to win doesn't make up for all the disappointing results earlier in the season. But it gave a boost to Michigan's bowl hopes and provided a brief respite from some of the talk about the program's uncertain future.
The Wolverines (4-5, 2-3 Big Ten) need to win two of their last three regular-season games to become bowl eligible, and with a trip to Ohio State still to come, the pressure will be on Michigan in its next two games at Northwestern and home against Maryland.
Hoke said going to a bowl still matters.
''That's always something you should think about,'' he said. ''It's nice to get, as coaches, sometimes you get those extra days of preparation and practice with youth and in some ways that's good. The other thing is, because of injury and necessity a little bit, you start finding some other guys and developing guys in the system.''
Hoke's future is very much in question, and although Michigan appears content to wait until the end of the season before resolving his status, it's not clear how a bowl bid might affect that timetable. When Rich Rodriguez was fired by Brandon after the 2010 season, the move didn't come until after the team played its bowl.
Hoke wouldn't comment on Brandon's departure after Saturday's game, instead saying he would discuss it at his Monday news conference. If the athletic director's exit was a distraction, it didn't seem to affect the players' performance.
''I came here to play football. That's what I'm doing.'' linebacker Joe Bolden said.
Bolden said interim athletic director Jim Hackett was in the locker room after the game.
Michigan senior Devin Gardner threw for 220 yards and two touchdowns, the first time all season he surpassed 200 yards passing. He surpassed that mark eight times last season.
The Wolverines also got a big game from sophomore Drake Johnson, who ran for 122 yards and two touchdowns.
''It was nice,'' Johnson said. ''I really enjoyed it but I think it is just about focusing on next week because this is just one game. Getting high on any one game is dangerous. I think we need to focus on Northwestern.''
The Wolverines nearly became the first team this season to hold Indiana star Tevin Coleman under 100 yards rushing, but he finished with 108.
Coleman was benched for a bit during the first half after a couple early fumbles, one of which was recovered by Michigan.
''I was expecting that because that's how we do it. If you fumble, and it creates a turnover, usually you are out for the game,'' Coleman said. ''That's just a rule.''