For Tevin Coleman, it really isn't fair.
Coleman has had an incredible season as Indiana's top running back. He has rivaled the marks that Anthony Thompson set during his career at IU in the late 1980s, and has been the offense's biggest spark during a tough season in which the Hoosiers are 3-7 and have still not won a single Big Ten game. Despite this, Coleman has not slowed down, even as defenses have become more adept at containing him. And on Saturday, he had his magnum opus of the season, running for 308 yards and a touchdown against Rutgers during an otherwise forgettable late-season Big Ten matchup.
This week, I'm doing the game recap differently. This recap is dedicated to Tevin Coleman, who may only have two more games left in an Indiana uniform before he turns pro. This was his day, and I want to honor him and what he's done for the Hoosiers this season, because he does not get as much publicity as other top college football players in the country.
Even though Coleman had a tremendous game, and averaged 9.6 yards on each of his 32 carries, it ultimately wasn't enough. Rutgers was the more dominant team all day, and the Scarlet Knights rolled over the Hoosiers, 45-23. Alas, even Coleman himself was overshadowed by another running back in the conference. While this game was happening, Wisconsin's Melvin Gordon ran for 408 rushing yards against Nebraska, breaking the NCAA single-game record. That's right. In what may be the most Indiana football thing of all Indiana football things, Coleman likely won't even get honored by the B1G as Offensive Player of the Week because of Gordon's huge game. In addition, despite his gaudy numbers on the year (1,678 yards, 12 TDs, 7.8 yards per carry), there is no chance Coleman will even get consideration for a Heisman, since he plays on the 3-7 Hoosiers as opposed to a team like the 8-2 Badgers.
Let's recap how he did this game. Coleman started out slowly, and had trouble getting his footing during the first quarter. With Rutgers up 10-3 in the second quarter, Coleman began to get some momentum, running for 35 yards on two plays to set up a Griffin Oakes field goal. Then with less than a minute left in the half, Coleman broke free, running for 67 yards and a touchdown to give the Hoosiers the halftime lead.
On the first drive of the second half, Coleman didn't slow down, running for 68 yards down to the Rutgers 5. But as we said, Coleman's career has been unfair, so of course, the Hoosiers could only settle for a field goal from there. A couple drives later Coleman started out strong again, getting the ball to midfield, but a Diamont interception, one of his few bad throws of the game, ended this opportunity. On the final IU drive of the game, with the outcome long out of hand, Coleman ran the ball one last time for 13 yards, which clinched over 300 yards for Coleman on the day.
As for the rest of the team, there were a mix of positives and negatives, but ultimately while we saw some great individual performances, the team itself didn't hang together enough to get a victory. Zander Diamont had a decent day passing, and despite some rookie mistakes while under pressure, he looked a lot more confident throwing the ball. Unfortunately, his receivers kept dropping the ball seemingly after every pass, which was frustrating to say the least.
The other side of the ball was also frustratingly inconsistent. While the defense was pressuring Gary Nova and forced a few fumbles, it also game up 45 points and often let the Scarlet Knights drive the ball down the field without any resistance. Even the special teams, which started the game out with an exciting successful onside kick, had its share of miscues, including an embarrassing fake punt, a muffed return that led to a touchdown, and a terrible roughing the punter call by the refs that basically iced the game for the Scarlet Knights.
But today was all about Tevin Coleman. His college career hasn't been fair, but it has been memorable for Hoosier fans. While it unfortunately never did happen here, hopefully he will latch on to a winning team in the future. We'll definitely be rooting for him.