Indiana, a week after a powerful offensive performance in a close loss to Michigan, barely managed to cross midfield in the first half during a brutal, 38-10 loss to Ohio State that could have been much more lopsided. Certainly, we knew what to expect from the defense. OSU quarterback Terrelle Pryor is a solid but not elite passer, but the IU secondary made him look like Peyton Manning. We made Towson's quarterback look like Randall Cunningham and gave Denard Robinson what now looks like his final week of Heisman hype. What I didn't expect what the complete ineptitude of the offense. Ohio State was, on paper and in reality, the first above average defense that IU was to face, and OSU is far, far above average. I expected the offense to struggle a bit. IU's problems were amplified by injuries: RB Darius Willis and OL James Brewer missed the game with injuries, and two other starting OL were on the sideline by halftime. IU managed only 78 yards in the first half. Ben Chappell, after a record-setting performance against Michigan, was 16-26 for 106 yards, 0 touchdowns, and 2 interceptions. None of the three running backs who tried to take Willis's place--Trea Burgess, Antonio Banks, and Nick Turner--managed better than 30 yards or 3.3 per carry.
As bad as the offense was, the defense was even worse. While not as bad as last week, Ohio State managed to gain 7.5 yards per offensive play. Terrelle Pryor was 24-30 (that's 80 percent) for 334 yards and 3 touchdowns. Pryor, normally a dual threat quarterback, didn't run by design a single time yesterday. With Dan Herron, Jamaal Berry, and Carlos Hyde acveraging well over 5 yards per carry and with the ease with which OSU gained yards in the air, why would he run? That's what's most disturbing. We all knew that this game would be a comfortable win for OSU, in all likelihood. The ease with which the Buckeyes dominated the game was really, really discouraging. This is the same old IU until the Hoosiers prove otherwise.
Really, has there ever been a more thoroughly depressing day in Big Ten play?
- It's always fun to see Michigan lose, but the Wolverines were exposed by MSU, and probably won't win more than a couple more Big Ten games. Our calling card is a close home loss to a below average Big Ten team. Yippee.
- Illinois, one of IU's must-win opponents, looks much better than expected.
- Penn State might be the easiest mark on IU's remaining schedule, except we are playing our "home" game in LANDOVER, MARYLAND.
- Purdue, while still in the must-win category for IU, certainly isn't going to roll over and die.
- Northwestern has now used up its "one inexplicably horrible loss each season" slot, one that IU benefited from in 2008.
Really, for all of the disappointment on defense, IU's record is about what we thought it would be. It's time for the defensive coaches to find a path to respectability. Don't ask me how.
Oh, and can I rant a little bit about a couple of decisions in this game? IU football requires, in addition to an infusion of talent, an attitude change. Two points of the game, even though the game likely was out of reach by then, really bothered me. The first was at the end of the first half, when IU got the ball back down 31-0 with 38 seconds remaining on its own 27 yard line. I realize that this was a bad situation, and that we were unlikely to score from such a position. But dammit, our only chance to get back in the game, however small, was to score a quick TD before the half and then to score another touchdown on the opening drive. I realize it was unlikely, but not trying to score there essentially was a concession that the game was over, and was the move of a coaching staff that doesn't expect to win. The second was the decision to kick a field goal while down 38-0. I might understand it if it were a chance to get Mitch Ewald a long-distance kick under game conditions, but it was a 36 yarder. Playing to avoid the shutout is just depressing. While practically out of reach, the game wasn't mathematically our of reach then, and again, I don't want the coaching staff to give in to defeat. Perhaps these are unfair criticisms, but they frustrated me terribly while I was watching the game.