With friends like these, who needs enemies. That traditional saying doesn't feel any more appropriate than right now. Who needs an opposing force when Indiana football is so good at beating themselves. The Hoosiers put together a mastery performance of how to beat yourself at the game of football last night and I'm not sure why we expected anything different.
Indiana's defense actually came out of the gates looking really good. A pretty awful scoring drive to open up was followed up by four straight stops by the Indiana defense. Yes, you heard that right, the Indiana defense generated 80% stops in the first quarter. What did the offense do to repay that favor? 13 points. That cannot happen with this Indiana defense. When they give you that kind of opportunity to begin the game, you have to jump on it. Indiana's offense did not do that and it ultimately cost them the football game.
The coaches probably should shoulder the biggest chunk of the blame in this game. They either over thought things or failed miserably to make the right calls in the right situation. The defense, despite their good start to the game, eventually reverted back to the normal defense that we've seen from game to game. After that great start in the first quarter the Hoosier defense gave up 21 points in the second quarter, while the offense only was able to generate a field goal.
Tre Roberson went 8-18 for 80 yards passing in the first half and by the time we hit the final seconds the game could have been considered over. 28-13. Everyone and their dog were screaming for Sudfeld by the time the second quarter started and Kevin Wilson kept with Roberson way too long. Minnesota just did not have to respect the pass with Tre in there. Surprisingly, Indiana stalled twice in the red zone where Roberson is usually at his best. He just didn't have it last night and everyone seemed to see that but Wilson.
To start the second half we finally got to see the guy we were all screaming for. Nate Sudfeld came onto the field and outside of the surprise snap on 3rd and 5 on the first drive, Sudfeld and company looked good. Minnesota was able to tack on another 7 points to push the score to 35-13 before the offense finally got started. Sudfeld led a 68 yard drive for a touchdown to bring the score to 35-20 and the defense found their footing again. Stop. Score. Stop. Score. And suddenly Indiana has the lead.
Unfortunately this is where the coaches again out thought themselves. Instead of kicking the extra point to go up 5 and forcing Minnesota to go for two if they did score, Indiana went for 2. They failed and the Minnesota deficit was 4 instead. Now if/when Minnesota scores another TD they take a three point lead and touchdown is necessary to win instead of a field goal. Well the inevitable happens and the defense leaves the Minnesota tight end wide open over the middle allowing them to score in the span of about 30 seconds.
Now Indiana was down three and needed at least the field goal to get it into overtime. Luckily Minnesota's defense was a sieve at this point. Nate Sudfeld and company marched easily down the field and were sitting on the 8 yard line on second down. This is when the most Indiana thing in the history of Indiana football happened. It felt all but guaranteed that IU was punching this puppy into the end zone with nearly no time left on the clock.
Indiana had been running all over Minnesota but instead of going forward with what's working the play call was for a screen in the flat to Tevin Coleman. Sudfeld shoveled the ball out to Coleman who dropped the pass and gave up on it. The Minnesota defense scooped up the ball and it was ruled a lateral instead of a forward pass. That means the ball was a fumble and the game was over.
Just like that, poof, Indiana's bowl hopes are gone. The chances of winning three of the next five are implausible at best and impossible at worst. There's a good chance that some coaches will be given their walking papers after the year is finished, because you can't have as favorable a schedule as Indiana has and walk away with 5 or less wins. Yes, Indiana's best years are probably ahead of them. They're still building up a historically awful program and up is the direction we're going, but that isn't going to culminate in a bowl game this year.
Don't pack it in and call it a year, but unfortunately we should all be ready to be watching basketball full-time after Thanksgiving. Alas we can't dwell on this too much. An Illinois team comes to town next weekend and hopefully we can take out our frustrations on them. I really really want to see a big double digit victory, just to prove we aren't still the Indiana that everyone knows we have been.