For the 14th time in 15 years, the Hoosiers have failed to qualify for postseason play and are assured of a losing season. Here are the stats. For the fifth time in seven Big Ten games, IU led or was tied at the half. In this game, the Hoosiers led 10-0 before allowing 24 unanswered points. With the game tied 10-10 in the third quarter, IU was driving when Navorro Bowman returned an interception 73 yards for a touchdown.
I'm not going to spend a ton of time breaking this one down. IU was able to move the ball at times, and won the turnover battle 4-1 (again), but couldn't hold an early lead. Neither offense stood out statistically: Penn State averaged 5.5 yards per play, IU 4.6. Darius Willis missed the game with injury and IU's running game suffered, but the running game has struggled against tough defenses all year. Once again, IU's excellent wideouts played well, and the offensive skill positions provide the most reason for optimism. Chappell played well, and the pick 6 really wasn't his fault.
So, for the 13th time in 15 years, the Hoosiers will be playing for nothing but pride in the Bucket game. Because of their loss to Michigan State, the Boilermakers are in the same boat. I'll have much more to say about the Purdue game as the week transpires. I would hope that Bill Lynch has the telecast of last year's game on continuous loop in the weight room, conference room, training room, dorm rooms, and so on. To say the Hoosiers will be playing with pride may be a bit presumptuous. All too often in the last 15 years the Hoosiers have failed to show much pride or intensity in the Bucket game.
I'm sure that win or lose, we will hear much after the season about how improved the Hoosiers were in 2009. It's true to an extent, but part of the reason is because 2008 was so unbelievably bad, one of the least competitive seasons in the history of a program with lots of bad seasons. Other than the win over Northwestern, IU failed to compete with any decent team in 2008, and obviously did improve in that regard. On the other hand, IU, thanks to a huge turnover advantage that is at least partly due to luck, took some big leads but failed to hold most of them. Was 2009 progress, or simply a wasted opportunity? Ask me this time next year.