Dienhart: 'Time for Michigan defense to take a bow'

Every Saturday throughout the fall, BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart offers his Snap Reactions from every Big Ten game. See his immediate thoughts from Michigan’s 12-10 comeback victory over Michigan State and Indiana’s narrow defeat at Navy in this post.

Michigan 12, Michigan State 10
1. It’s time for the Michigan defense to take a bow. All season long, it has been the cornerstone of the team. Yes, the 41-14 loss to Alabama was ugly. But otherwise, coordinator Greg Mattison’s crew has played well. Michigan entered the day No. 2 in the Big Ten in total defense (283.0 ypg). And on this day, the Wolverines limited the Spartans to 304 yards.

2. To be a championship team, you have to win games like this. Was it pretty? No. But it was a win, nonetheless. There are no style points in football. And that’s OK with Michigan. The Wolverines showed resilency and character, no flicking while facing a perilous situation and making key plays in crunch time. How about that throw and catch that set up the winning field goal by Denard Robinson and Drew Dileo.

3. Michigan State is now 4-4 overall and 1-3 in the Big Ten. Up next: a trip to Wisconsin followed by visits from Nebraska and Northwestern. The season ends with a game at Minnesota. Will this team get bowl-eligible? The defense continues to do its job, allowing just 326 yards. But the offense? It had just 304 yards. Le’Veon Bell had 26 carries for 68 yards (2.6 ypc).

Navy 31, Indiana 30
1. For a third week in a row, Indiana came so close to winning. This time, it was Navy that ruined the Hoosiers’ Saturday. And, once again, it was the defense that proved to be the liability. Navy ran for 257 yards with its triple option offense, as Indiana was outscored, 17-10, in the second half.

2. The Hoosier offense continues to play well enough to win, rattling off 417 yards on this day. Cam Coffman hit 25-of-36 passes for 244 yards. The JC transfer continues to impress after taking over for injured Tre Roberson. And Shane Wynn and Kofi Hughes form the crux of a strong corps of wideouts. This program is so close but now has lost five games in a row.

3. Will Indiana win a game this season? It’s best shot may come next week at Illinois. After that are games vs. Iowa and Wisconsin and home, and season-ending trips to Penn State and Purdue.

BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart is a veteran sports journalist who covers Big Ten football and men’s basketball for BTN.com and BTN TV. Find him on Twitter and Facebook, read all of his work at btn.com/tomdienhart, and subscribe to his posts via RSS. Also, send questions to his weekly mailbag using the form below and read all of his previous answers in his reader mailbag section.

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BTN.com staff on 10/20/2012 @ 10:57pm EST Said:

Greg Mattison’s name was wrong in the first edition of this post. The mistake has been fixed.