Ball State 41, Indiana 39: late comeback is for naught.

Sep 15, 2012; Bloomington, IN, USA; Ball State Cardinals kicker Steven Schott (14) celebrates with teammates after kicking the game winning field goal to defeat Indiana Hoosiers 41-39 at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-US Presswire

Indiana blew opportunities to take control of the game in the first half, failed to appear in the third quarter, and appeared dead in the water until freshman quarterback Nate Sudfeld led a furious comeback that culminated in IU taking a 39-38 lead with under a minute remaining. With 7 seconds left, Ball State found itself outside field goal range and without no timeouts left. Junior quarterback Keith Wenning found his receiver, who did or didn't possess the ball inbounds (I think it was close enough that the call on the field would have stood either way) and with just one second left, which set up the winning field goal. As I said in my preview, I anticipated a back and forth game, but I wasn't imagining the big runs by each team. Ball State looked to have the Hoosiers on the ropes at 14-3 in the first quarter, but IU came back to lead 17-14. IU seemed to seize momentum at halftime with a ballsy two point conversion for a 25-24 lead, but the Hoosiers didn't score again until late in the fourth quarter.

Here's the box score. IU outgained Ball State 558-440. Neither team committed a turnover, but IU committed 12 penalties. Ball State committed few until late in the game, when a couple of pass interference calls aided IU's comeback. The decisive period of the game was in the third quarter, when Wenning picked apart the IU secondary, especially poor Kenny Mullen. Cameron Coffman played pretty well, completing 24-35 passes for 251 yards and 2 TDs, but after IU's offense stagnated and Coffman left the game with a hip pointer, true freshman Nate Sudfeld and was very good, completing 13-20 passes for 172 yards and 2 TDs.

Individual performances of note, other than the quarterbacks:

  • Cody Latimer caught 4 pases for 115 yards and 2 TDs.
  • Kofi Hughes had his first impact game of the season, catching 7 passes for 88 yards and a TD. Unfortunately, the lasting memory will be his second quarter drop of a pass that would have gone for big yardage, perhaps even a TD, when IU led by three.
  • In all, the spread-it-around Hoosier offense continued, with 10 different players catching a pass.
  • On the ground, Stephen Houston, with 12 carries for 102 yards, led the way.
This was a tough one, obviously. It's always a bitter pill to lose to Ball State in anything, and three in a row in football is brutal. There were some bright spots. We have two young quarterbacks who can play. Next year, we will have three. We will score some points this year. On the other hand, the offensive line is pretty green and we don't have Tre Roberson around to bail them out. The defense was a trainwreck. They weren't hopeless, and did get a big stop that allowed IU to temporarily take the lead, but the poor pass coverage was eclipsed only by the stupid penalties. There are things to like, and things to dislike. The lack of discipline is a major concern going forward, although I suppose it's worth noting that the What is really heartbreaking about this loss is that when IU had the lead in the final minute, it was possible to dream a little bit. The Big Ten is awful. Navy is awful. The Hoosiers will have some opportunities to win, but to keep the season interesting, they probably needed this one.

Now it's an early bye week, and then on to Northwestern, a team that has had a strong start against a pretty tough schedule, to begin Big Ten play.

At the end of the game, in the game thread, we were discussing whether a game like this has ever gone IU's way. The two that come to mind are Ball State and Illinois in 2006. That team was in bowl contention until the final game despite what should have been crippling early season losses to Southern Illinois and Connecticut. On the other hand, I'm not going to go overboard complimenting the team on the "fight" it showed in the fourth quarter. In several games last year (Ball State, Virginia, Penn State, North Texas, Purdue), IU appeared dead in the water and came within at least an onside kick of tying the game or taking the lead. At some point, we have to start winning some of these. Well, this is the lot we have chosen by following this program. Let's see what the Hoosiers can do after two weeks.
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