Expectations were low for Saturday’s IU football game against No. 8 Michigan State. With a freshman quarterback making his first career start against a stacked Spartans defense who also happen to have a pretty good offense this year, things weren’t looking good for the Hoosiers.
Things didn’t go well, as expected, and IU dropped to 3-4 on the year with a 56-17 loss to Michigan State.
As I stood in the stands during the final moments of the game, (yes I stayed until the end, as I always do) I couldn’t help but feel bad for the team. This was a team that started the season with a lot of potential. This was a team that beat a ranked Missouri team on the road. This was a team that looked like it could finally reach a bowl game. But now, that all seems to be gone.
What makes it so sad is that it isn’t completely the fault of Coach Kevin Wilson or the players. While Wilson has made some boneheaded play calls and the players have certainly made mistakes on the field, the injury bug has gotten to IU, and may have done them in for the season.
When junior starting quarterback Nate Sudfeld went down for the season last week, this team lost its leader. More importantly, it lost the glue keeping the offense together. He is clearly the best passer the team has, and without the ability to move the ball through the air, it will be difficult for this offense to do much the rest of the year.
Yes IU has the best running back in the nation, but even Tevin Coleman won’t be able to completely carry the offense when opposing defenses are stacking eight guys in the box every play. He was able to extend his streak of games with 100 yards rushing or more to nine straight, as he went for 132 yards on 15 carries. But he had his streak of consecutive games with a touchdown snapped at 15.
What made the Sudfeld injury even worse was that freshman backup Chris Covington went down with an ACL injury and is out indefinitely. Third stringer and freshman Zander Diamont didn’t play well at all against the Spartans, going 5-for-15 and throwing for 11 yards. He threw for no touchdowns, but ran for one despite having -12 rushing yards on 10 carries. He looked uncomfortable in the pocket. He turned to hand the ball off the wrong way on a play, and he showed no arm strength at all.
I couldn’t tell you the last time IU had a game where they completed just five passes.
With Diamont set to lead the way the rest of the season, I don’t feel confident in the Hosiers winning another game. Even the Purdue game to close out the year is starting to look like it could be tough with the Boilermakers improvement.
Could IU win another game? Of course. I think they will, I just won’t be making any guarantees. Could IU still win six games? Yes. There are still four winnable games left on the schedule: Michigan, Penn State, Rutgers, and Purdue. The Hoosiers would have to win three of these games. Do I see it happening? Not with these injuries.
The Hoosiers now have a bye week to prepare for their trip to the Big House. Hopefully the offense works things out, because this team must beat Michigan to keep the season alive. My co-host Tori Ziege and I will be broadcasting the game from Ann Arbor Nov. 1 on WIUX. It will be a pivotal match-up, as the IU season hinges on it.
Even more reason to tune in.
Follow Andrew on Twitter @AndrewVcourt and listen to him on “The War Room” Fridays 6-7pm