The Hoosiers come into this week feeling down after our annual butt kicking from Wisconsin. Now they're faced with the task of going into Columbus and trying to take down National Title contender Ohio State. It likely is not going to be pretty and history does nothing to reinforce that feeling. Indiana hasn't won a game against Ohio State since 1988 and 2013 doesn't look like our year either.
The average scoring margin between Indiana and Ohio State in IU's 12-69-5 history against the Buckeyes is 10.4-25.6. This is one of the few long standing series that Indiana has played in where they've actually struggled to get to double digits on a consistent basis. Sure more teams blow Indiana out by a bigger average point spread, but no defense tends to be as stifling to the Hoosiers as Ohio State. In fact, there have been six separate decades over the last twelve, where the Hoosiers' average score didn't crack the double digit mark. Including an appalling 1930s where Indiana and Ohio State played 9 times and the Hoosiers averaged 2.9 points. The one game of the nine they won in that decade? 10-0.
So yeah, you get it. We're awful against the Buckeyes. BUT, last year should at least give us all a glimmer of hope. For those who don't remember this game was once again another of several pretty big what if games of the past two years. Of course once again the Hoosier defense couldn't stop a [insert phrase indicating something that should be easy to stop] but the Hoosiers offense showed sparks of life.
Both Cam Coffman and Nate Sudfeld played the best games of their short careers up to that point in this game. Coffman threw 44 times and completed 22 for 275 yards and a touchdown with no interceptions. Meanwhile, Stephen Houston and Shane Wynn did some damage on the ground combining for 110 yards on 12 carries. The Hoosiers and Buckeyes went back and forth in the first having going tit for tat.
Ohio State got up early on IU by a score of 10-0 before Stephen Houston does what Indiana running backs have a knack for doing, busting out long touchdown runs. With 2 minutes to go in the first quarter Houston took off for a 59 yard run from scrimmage to bring the score to 10-7. After a defensive stop the Hoosiers took the ball on a lengthy drive (by Indiana standards) for another touchdown to go up 14-10.
Of course this is where Indiana's snakebitten luck comes in as Ohio State blocks a punt in their own end zone for an easy touchdown and then scores on a deep touchdown pass from Braxton Miller to Devin Smith as time winds down in the half. Going into halftime 24-14 and knowing we get the ball back, at the time felt like a moral victory at least.
IU opened the second half with a field goal and then the Hoosiers proceeded to fall behind in back and forth scoring. The problem being that Ohio State was getting into the end zone while the Hoosiers settled for kicking field goals. Eventually Ohio State took what felt like a commanding lead at 52-34 before Coach Wilson changed things up a bit and put in Nate Sudfeld to try and revive a stalling offense.
Sudfeld proceeded to leed the Hoosiers on a touchdown drive to bring the score to 52-41 with 1:40 to go. Onside kick by Mitch Ewald (who is really good at those) and the Hoosiers recover. Indiana flies down the field in a passing attack capped by a 25 yard pass to Houston for a touchdown capped off with a Cody Latimer 2 point conversion and suddenly we had ourselves a ball game. 52-49 with 35 seconds to play.
Unfortunately that is where the Indiana mojo ran out. Another attempted onside kick failed this time and Indiana would have to settle for another in a string of many moral victories. You look back at this game and the game against Michigan State last year and I completely understand why there was so much optimism heading into this season. But like most of Indiana football history it didn't work out. Can IU pull of the upset of all upset this weekend to revive their bowl hopes and turn what's been a slightly disappointing season into one of the best years in recent memory? It's going to take that at least if IU wants to play beyond Thanksgiving.