Written by Lloyd Ribner III (@Ribner3)
Opponent: Minnesota Golden Gophers
Location: Saturday November 2nd | 3:30pm | Memorial Stadium / Bloomington Indiana
What The Game Meant:
Indiana was playing for the postseason lives. Realistically there were three winnable games entering this weekend, and the Hoosiers needed to win them all to go bowling.
Top Offensive Performers:
Stephen Houston RB, Indiana- The senior who lost his starting job this year proved he still has what it takes Saturday. He rushed for 111 yards and a touchdown on the day. Even more impressive is the fact that he did it all on just 13 carries, as Houston rushed for 8.5 yards per carry on the day.
Tevin Coleman, RB, Indiana- The starter at running back nearly matched the production that his counterpart put together. Coleman also topped 100 yards on the day, including a monster 55 yard touchdown run. He too had an impressive average as he picked up 7.7 yards per run. In addition he caught two balls out of the backfield for tacking on 51 receiving yards.
Nate Sudfeld, QB, Indiana- The starter for much of the season, Sudfeld was the reliever on the day. Replacing a struggling Tre Roberson, the sophomore completed 13 of 20 passes for 189 yards and 2 touchdowns. His performance allowed the Hoosiers to claw back into the game
Philip Nelson, QB, Minnesota- Philip Nelson had arguably his most prolific day through the air of his career. Completing nearly 70-percent of his passes, he threw for 298 yards through the air. The sophomore was also able to toss four touchdowns without turning the ball over through the air.
David Cobb, RB, Minnesota- His hot steak continued as his career high 188 rushing yards marked the third consecutive game that the Texan surpassed the 100-yard plateau. Cobb was a workhorse for the Gophers on the day carrying the ball 29 times, averaging 6.5 yards per touch. He was also able to find the end zone on a 27-yard touchdown run.
Top Defensive Performers
Mark Murphy, S, Indiana- The junior safety often gets overshadowed by his teammate Greg Heban, but not on this Saturday. Murphy led the team with 12 total tackles, including 8 of the solo variety. To cap his day off he also forced a fumble for good measure.
Tim Bennett, CB, Indiana- Bennett had a disruptive day himself. The corner notched 7 solo tackles on the day. In addition he broke up two passes and had a TFL. The former JUCO star is making his presence felt in the Big Ten.
Cedric Thompson, DB, Minnesota- The California native had a big day on Saturday leading the Gophers with 9 tackles on the day, including 8 solo. He also was disruptive behind the line of scrimmage as he picked up a tackle for loss as well.
Special Team Performance:
The Hoosiers special teams unit was very solid on the day. Shane Wynn led the day with 103 yards on just three kick returns including a big 48-yarder. Stephen Houston had a 48-yard return of his own topping his 88-yard return performance. As a team the Hoosiers had 213 kick return yards, averaging over 30 yards per return on the day. Kicker Mitch Ewald held his own as well nailing both of his short field goals on the day, while converting all three of his extra point attempts. Punter Erich Toth had a day in line with the rest of his season. The sophomore punted 7 times to an average of 41.3 yards, and a long of 51.
Key Stat: 38:02
While we all know the Hoosiers do not place a high value on time of possession, Saturday was another example of how this can come back to bite you. The Golden Gophers had this game at their tempo for the majority of the time. Minnesota ran the ball 52 times allowing them to hold the ball for over 38 minutes of time, or nearly two-thirds of the game.
When Linebacker Aaron Hill recovered a fumble by Indiana’s Tevin Coleman with 25 seconds remaining allowing Minnesota to escape with a 42-39 victory on Saturday.
It Was Over When…:
The play call from the sideline was wrong, the decision by the quarterback was wrong, the throw was bad, the catch was even worse, and the decision to stop playing is unacceptable.
Take your pick as to which one fits best here.
Players of the Game
Indiana– Nate Sudfeld, Quarterback- Sudfeld has once again stated his case as to why he deserves to be the starting quarterback of this team. While ultimately the Hoosiers fell short, Nate Sudfeld put them in a position to win for the most part. His 40-yard touchdown strike to Shane Wynn in the third quarter pumped life back into the Hoosier passing game as well as open up the box for the running game to take hold. It led to 26 unanswered points on the day.
Minnesota- Philip Nelson, Quarterback- The Gopher signal caller had arguably the best game of his career. He was productive and efficient all day, as you can tell by his 94.6 QBR. Not only did he toss a career high 4 touchdowns, it also matched his total for the entire year heading into this weekend.
What I took away from the game
The Hoosiers defense once again looked inept on the that side of the football. They were facing a Gopher team that averaged just 18.5 points per game in Big Ten play entering Saturday and allowed them to control the ball and move it at will leading to a 42 point explosion.
The offense on the other hand showed its explosiveness at times. However, there were issues there as well. Early in the game the Hoosiers drove the ball down the field but once again displayed their problems putting the ball in the end zone. More troubling was the fact that the Hoosiers offense was very erratic. Again they moved the ball well early, and the late game rally where they had four straight drives end in touchdowns was impressive. However in the middle of the game Indiana had five consecutive drives that ended in a punt. That is just unacceptable, and that combined with poor defense is what allowed the Gophers to take hold of the game through the second and third quarters.
Entering this weekend the Hoosiers had already backed themselves into a corner essentially needing to win their three "winnable" game to become bowl eligible. This home match-up against Minnesota was the first of the trio, and coming away with a loss essentially puts a nail in the coffin that is Indiana's postseason hopes. The Hoosiers are now a paltry 8-24 under Kevin Wilson, and even worse have just three Big Ten wins over that stretch. The wait continues for when Indiana football becomes relevant, even if it is just within the Big Ten.