You win some, you lose some. Unfortunately for the Indiana Hoosiers football team, you just don’t win road games. The Hoosiers came into yesterday’s matchup against the Bowling Green Falcons seeking their first road victory since October 27, 2012. Not an overwhelmingly surprising stat, but one that Kevin Wilson and his team would have liked to erase.
Before the season, as many fans do, I went through the schedule picking out where IU would have to get its six wins if it wanted to make that elusive bowl game. I thought that Bowling Green was a “sure thing.” But I was naïve in assuming that a team who had the opportunity to knock off a Big Ten school would just roll over. This Bowling Green team came to play. From the moment the game started the crowd was loud and supportive. The players were hyped and you could tell they were on a mission.
The Falcons were hitting hard and early. Tevin Coleman might as well have been running into a brick wall in the first half of the game. The line was not giving an inch to the run game. However, the patented Indiana Hoosier passing attack took shape and Nate Sudfeld kept the offense moving. But as everybody knows, you aren’t going to score on every possession in football. And when you don’t score, your special teams have to take the field. Now, I want to preface by saying that as an Indiana fan, I am used to feeling aggravated and disappointed. But nothing can be more aggravating than watching punter Erich Toth punt a ball for a net of 10 yards. It was these kinds of miscues and more that plagued the Hoosiers throughout the game.
As in-control of the game as the Hoosiers seemed to be in the first half, Bowling Green hung tough. I give the Falcons credit, especially to their kicker, Tyler Tate, who went 4-4 in the first half. Sure, the Hoosier defense was solid in the red zone during the first half, but Tate did his job and ultimately kept his team in the game because of it. Going into halftime, Tate’s contributions left the Falcons with only a two-point deficit, trailing IU 14-12.
Now I’ve seen some crazy things happen in a football game. The Colts knocking off Kansas City in the 2013-2014 playoffs is still number one on my list. However, I don’t think I have ever seen nine lead changes in a game, let alone a single half. If you were casually flipping between channels, you might not have believed that this was the same game from the first half. Whereas both teams struggled to do any real damage offensively in the first half, the game burst wide open in the second half. A flurry of scoring lead to one of the most exciting and palpable atmospheres I can remember in a college football game. Just when a drive seemed to be over, Bowling Green quarterback James Knapke would keep it alive with a nice throw down the field. It wasn’t all Bowling Green though. The Indiana Hoosiers defense got too aggressive. Multiple flags for pass interference helped the Falcons keep their drives going and their hopes alive.
I knew with about 12 minutes left that this game would very likely be won by the team who possessed the ball last. Neither defense seemed present on the field. Yet I held out hope for IU because, “It’s a Big Ten team. Big Ten teams don’t lose to MAC teams, right?” Oh, how I was wrong. Every time Indiana would make a play to give them the lead, Bowling Green responded. When IU scored their last touchdown with 2:04 remaining, I thought it was game over. After all, Bowling Green hadn’t been putting together extremely fast drives and they only had one timeout remaining. But in a well-executed two-minute drill, and a poorly-executed game management situation by the Hoosiers, the Falcons found the end zone for the game winning TD with only nine seconds remaining. Final score BG 45- IU 42.
Heartbreak. That’s the only word I can seem to find that fits this situation. I’m not so much heartbroken about the loss. I won’t lie, I know that win meant a lot to Bowling Green. They beat a Big Ten team. Granted not a good one, but a Big Ten team nonetheless. As a sports fan, I can truly appreciate those types of moments for smaller schools. What I am heartbroken about is the season as a whole. I won’t sugarcoat it. Pending some type of miracle, I don’t foresee the Hoosiers getting to a bowl game. This was a must-win game. The home schedule is already tough enough and you wonder if the Hoosiers can’t beat Bowling Green, who can they beat? Call me crazy, but I believe the team is better than last year. Yet until the Hoosiers start playing up to their potential, they might as well be the same team. It’s not easy being a Hoosier fan. During this season, it may not get any easier.
By: Lucas Corley