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Three Things: Michigan 20, Indiana 10

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Same Indiana, different game

NCAA Football: Indiana at Michigan Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

What if I told you the Hoosiers had a ranked Big Ten team on the ropes in the second half and then imploded and lost? Oh wait, that’s happened this season? Against Nebraska? And Penn State? Well I bet it hasn’t happened on the road this season! Oh, you did the same thing at Ohio State?

The Hoosiers led Michigan 10-6 in the third quarter, then allowed two scoring drives in three series before shooting themselves in the foot down the stretch, falling in the Big House 20-10.

This isn’t a new story. It’s been pretty much the IU mantra for two seasons. But that doesn’t make it any less frustrating.

The defense can only bail out the offense for so long

Indiana has a very, very good defense. It’s something that most of us still probably aren’t used to. They held Michigan to 12 first downs, 284 total yards and didn’t allow any plays from Jabril “Why Is He Actually A Heisman Candidate” Peppers.

However, the offense repeatedly gives them zero margin for error.

Michigan’s first half possessions went:

Punt
Punt
Punt
FG
Punt
End of half

They allowed 100 yards in those six drives. On the road. In the Big House.

The offense responded by scoring once and punting five times. And half of those six drives lasted less than two minutes.

The game was won for Michigan on a third down play in the third quarter. With IU having just scored a FG to extend their lead to 10-6, they had forced a 3rd-and-8 at Michigan’s own 36-yard line. A pair of Hoosiers came untouched on a blitz, both missed John O’Korn, who scrambled for 30 yards. The next play, De’Veon Smith gave Michigan the lead.

The margin for error is razor thin and you can’t fault the defense for what was an incredibly impressive performance on the road against a top-ranked.

But the Wolverines won the time of possession battle by nearly 10 minutes. The offense has to do a better job of keeping the defense off the field so they aren’t gassed come late in the second half.

Kevin Wilson’s play-calling and time management are still head-scratching

It’s been well-documented that Kevin Wilson has not helped his team out on many occasions this season and he’s taken his fare share of criticism from CQ.

However, two separate decisions really hurt the Hoosiers on Saturday.

First, after driving down to the Michigan 7-yard line on some big pass plays, Wilson went rush-rush-rush on the next three plays, netting 0 yards with one of those seeing Richard Lagow keep a read-option handoff.

Instead of potentially going up 14-6, the Hoosier went up just 10-6, then saw their lead vanish the next series. With how much success the Zander-Natee-Camion package had on the day, especially in their previous goal line series, it makes you wonder why they wouldn’t turn to it in a situation where a touchdown was crucial.

The other series came late in the third quarter. With the Hoosiers pinned against their own end zone with 1:19 left and down 13-10, Indiana threw incomplete on first down, then had a negative two-yard run on second down. Instead of running on third down, letting the third-quarter clock run out, then punting with the wind to your back, Wilson threw on third down on a quick snap, forcing Joseph Gedeon to punt into the wind.

Not surprisingly, Gedeon’s punt netted 31 yards and the Wolverines scored after the Hoosiers’ 36-second drive, putting the Wolverines up 20-10 and effectively ending the ballgame.

For as frustrating as this game, and season, has been, IU is one win away from their fourth-straight bucket and second-straight bowl

This game was frustrating, yes. But the Hoosiers put themselves in a spot where they didn’t necessarily need to win this game.

Instead, IU gets a Purdue team that was throttled by Wisconsin this week. If you had told me before the season that the Hoosiers would win another Old Oaken Bucket and qualify for back-to-back bowls, I’d have taken it in a heartbeat.

It’s Bucket Week. Let’s trash the Boilermakers.