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Three Things: Indiana football loses to Maryland 44-17

Just like you knew it would

NCAA Football: Indiana at Maryland Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

In every season that Indiana’s made a bowl game since Maryland joined the conference in 2014, it’s taken a win against the Terrapins to get to the six win mark. 2018 was the lone season that Indiana has beaten Maryland and missed a bowl game.

Indiana lost today for all of the reasons you knew that they would. Costly penalties, getting shredded by Taulia Tagovailoa for explosive plays, and offensive play-calling that was confusing, at best.

Because this matchup has been so consequential for Indiana’s bowl eligibility over the last decade, I decided to dedicate this article to a look back at the last three matchups with the Terps. This is not a program trending in the right direction.

Here’s Three Things:

2021 - Indiana Loses 38-35

This is the game which forces you to remember just how much potential Donaven McCulley had as a true freshman quarterback in the Big Ten. Even in the context of a program crumbling around him.

Indiana finished 2-10 that season, but this 38-35 loss to Maryland was one of Indiana’s more spirited efforts of the season. It’s important to remember that the week before this one was the 54-7 loss to Ohio State in which we were introduced to Grant Gremel, so the bounce back against Maryland gave some hope that things might be okay.

McCulley went 14/25 for 242 yards and two touchdowns while also managing to rush for positive yardage behind an offensive line that had already seen a number of less mobile quarterbacks go down with injuries.

Stephen Carr also had his best game of the year, rushing for 136 yards on 21 carries for two touchdowns of his own. It led to Indiana’s third and final time scoring more than 30 points on the season.

Unfortunately for Indiana, the offensive effort was not enough to eke out a win for a defense that was starting to show cracks after carrying the team for so much of the season. Micah McFadden did his best but could not contain Tagovailoa, who passed for 419 yards and two touchdowns on the day.

2022 - Indiana loses 38-33

Like today, this game got off to a horrific start with Connor Bazelak throwing an interception on the first play of the game. Maryland cashed in on a three play, 29-yard touchdown drive to go up seven just under two minutes into the game.

Despite getting off to such a bad start, Indiana put up a fight last season and ended up regaining the lead at halftime. Maryland opened the second half with a touchdown drive, which was followed by Bazelak’s second interception of the game and more points for the Terps.

After being held to three points in the third quarter, the offense showed some signs of life again in the fourth. Josh Henderson punched in a two yard run to give Indiana a 27-24 lead with 14:09 left in the game.

Things got really interesting (and unfortunate) when Tagovailoa went down with an injury in the fourth quarter and Maryland still down three. Then his backup, Billy Edwards Jr. came in and led back-to-back touchdown drives, putting the game out of reach for Indiana.

As they did in 2021, Indiana ended the game with a late touchdown that had no bearing on the outcome, other than to cover up how badly they had just lost. Indiana would go on to finish 4-8 that year, with its only Big Ten wins coming against Illinois and Maryland.

2023 - Indiana loses 44-17

On the first play from scrimmage, Tagovailoa completed a 62 yard pass to to Jeshaun Jones and you could have just turned off the game then. Maryland scored two plays later to go up 7-0 and never looked back, even after a nice kickoff return by Jaylin Lucas led to an Indiana field goal.

On that opening drive, Indiana appeared willing to exploit Maryland’s suspect run defense, handing it off to Christian Turner five times for 20 yards on a drive that totaled 32 yards. On the following drive - a three and out - Turner got zero touches.

In case the potential reopening of the quarterback discussion wasn’t painful enough, Sorsby entered the game around the same time that Jack Tuttle checked in for the Michigan Wolverines, getting garbage time minutes against a lowly Nebraska squad. We may very well see Tuttle get time against Indiana if Michigan plays like it can in two weeks.

Like I said above, everything that’s plagued Indiana this season continued today. The gap between Indiana and Maryland has only grown over the last three seasons, putting Indiana further and further away from bowl eligibility and anything resembling forward momentum.

The bigger question facing Indiana and Scott Dolson now is how much worse things will have to get to force his hand on a coaching change.