The Hoosiers came into this game with something to prove. It's kinda sad that we had such a moment this early in the season, but I think Indiana's performance yesterday will put some of those whispers to rest for a little while. The bipolarity of the fan base rears its head as the thought of a bowl game is very much a possibility again, after everyone's certainty that there was no chance just a few days ago. Instead, Indiana showed up and executed on every front but special teams to send Bowling Green packing in what I took to calling the Dan Dakich/Curt Miller Bowl.
Indiana came out strong as Nate Sudfleld got the starting job and cemented himself in it. Bowling Green showed zero resistance to the attack of the Hoosier offense until they got into the red zone. Once in the red zone though, the Hoosiers offense stalled out. With less space to defend Bowling Green was able to stack the box and lock down the offense. With three starters out the Hoosier line struggled to get good push and the Hoosiers went 4 and out on their first drive at the 1 yard line.
The defense turned around and immediately forced a three and out. Their first one in two weeks and Indiana had the ball right back. Indiana then went 51 yards in about 40 seconds to get on the board first. Tevin Coleman nabbed his first touchdown of the day by punching the ball in from one yard line. The offensive line still looked iffy on the drive, but Nate Sudfeld made an amazing throw across his body while scrambling for 48 yards to an open Shane Wynn. It was thoroughly impressive and gives you the sense that there is some pro potential in Sudfeld's raw talents at worst.
Bowling Green took their ensuing drive that started on their own 40 to the Indiana 30 before missing a field goal from 47 yards out. However, Bowling Green didn't need their offense because the special teams made one of their big mistakes on the next drive. Sudfeld and company stalled out and on the following punt 3 Bowling Green rushers came through the line untouched to essentially take the ball off of punter Eric Toth's foot and run it back for a TD. But the gaffes for Indiana didn't stop there.
The next offensive drive was as successful as the first two in regards to moving the ball. Indiana once again got down to the one yard line when they put in Tre Roberson at QB. I get what Coach WIlson was trying to do there, but it was executed poorly. Three straight run plays and IU still couldn't punch the ball into the end zone. Going for it on fourth down, Roberson fumbled the snap and Bowling Green recovered. So let's do the math real quick on that. 2 possessions with no points on the 1 yard line should have been 14 and Bowling Green was gifted a touchdown on a special teams play. At this point the game was 7-7 when it should have been 21-0. Not how you win football games.
The next drive sees the defense give up their first and ultimately only points on the day when Bowling Green took the ball 70 yards to kick a field goal. After a special teams return fumble, Bowling Green had the ball back in their territory with the chance to really strike a blow to Indiana. The defense held, forced a turnover on downs and the game was never really in question at that point. The Indiana offense found its rhythm, even in short yardage situations and the defense, though giving up yardage never really let Bowling Green get too deep into their own territory.
IU went on to score 35 unanswered points on 600 yards of offense. Now Bowling Green did put up 400 yards of offense as well, but good chunks of that came with Indiana playing prevent at the end of the first half and in the fourth quarter. With about 2 minutes to play in the half Bowling Green went 55 yards to miss a field goal. Then drives of 75 and 52 late in the fourth quarter when Indiana was just trying to avoid the home run. For those counting, that's 182 yards in prevent defense situations.
You've got to feel really good about Indiana's defensive performance. They went up against a decent, but not great spread offense and were quite effective. Nick Mangieri had a hell of a game at DE getting a crazy interception in the third quarter to go with a sack. Tim Bennett and Michael Hunter also deserve individual props. Both of those guys were quite good in coverage. They each had 7 passes defended against some bigger and more physical receivers.
Overall, Indiana fans should feel pretty optimistic after yesterday. Certainly there was enough that went wrong to keep the coaches busy this week, but overall the final product was more than you could have hoped for. Bowling Green is pretty good. We didn't trounce a cupcake yesterday. Likely, Indiana beat the MAC champion pretty soundly. Yes, it's the MAC, but the top of that conference has always been quite good. Michigan in turn came down to the final play against basement dwelling MACrifice Akron. The Hoosiers probably put forward the best performance of the conference yesterday. Can't be upset with that. Next up Missouri comes to town.