Well, it's time for the final recap of our Throwback Thursday of the summer. Today we take a look back at the Hoosiers first bowl game since 2007. The Pinstripe Bowl was special, especially being from New York, but it was ultimately the cherry on top of a season filled with close calls. This was one of the better bowl games of the 2015 season and I would not be shocked to see this in ESPNU's Top-25 Games.
Opponent: Duke Blue Devils
Location: Saturday December 26th, Yankee Stadium (Bronx, NY)
Why They Played: The Hoosiers and Blue Devils met in the fifth annual Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium which pitted the ACC against the Big Ten.
What The Game Meant
This was a chance for the Hoosiers to win a bowl game for the first time since 1991 and clinch a winning season for the first time since 2007. They were on national television and could very well have had the eyeballs of the entire college football world on them.
Top Offensive Performers
Nate Sudfeld, QB, Indiana- The final game of his Hoosier career got off to a slow start, but Sudfeld finished with a flash of brilliance completing 28 of 51 passes for 389 yards and three touchdowns. He did throw two costly interceptions that took points off the board for the Hoosiers, but once he got into rhythm it was a solid performance.
Devine Redding, RB, Indiana- No Jordan Howard, no problem. Redding was awesome and has been awesome in relief of Howard over the last three games. He became the second Hoosier running back to get over the 1,000-yard mark for the year, a first for the Hoosier football program. He finished with 227 yards on 35 carries and one score. He added seven yards receiving.
Duke Running Game- The Blue Devils gashed the Hoosiers all day with their rushing attack as they racked up 373 yards on 46 carries and accounted for three touchdowns.
Top Defensive Performers
Clyde Newton, LB, Indiana- Newton had a game-high 15 tackles and two quarterback hurries. He put pressure on Duke quarterback all day and forced some poor throws.
Jonathan Crawford, S, Indiana-Crawford picked off his fourth pass of the year and had nine tackles, but it was not enough to get the win for IU.
Dewayne Norman, LB, Duke- Norman had a huge pick in the red zone for the Devils as they kept IU off the board in the first quarter. He also had 10 tackles, which was good for third on the team.
Special Team Performance:
Bad, brutal, catastrophic, disaster, pick a negative adjective and that was probably it for IU on special teams on Saturday. If there was an area of the game that cost the Hoosiers the most it was arguably on special teams.
The always sure handed Mitchell Paige fumbled a punt return, Griffin Oakes, the Big Ten’s best kicker, missed two field goals, and the kickoff coverage team surrendered a Pinstripe Bowl record 98-yard return for a score to knot things at 34.
The Hoosiers just were not good enough in other areas of the game today to cover up these mistakes. I’ll hammer the point home again, special teams matter and it was the difference today.
The Hoosier defense allowed a whopping 8.1 yards per carry and allowed 373 yards on the ground.
I will put turning points because there were two of them. The first happened when Simmie Cobbs dropped a pass from Mitchell Paige in the end zone that would have put the Hoosiers up 11. Instead the Hoosiers had to settle for three and a seven-point lead. Then the second part of the turning point happened as Duke took the ensuing kickoff to the house to tie the score at 34, this allowed Duke back into the game and steal momentum away.
I Knew it Was Over When…
When I figured out that Griffin Oakes’ field goal was not reviewable.
Players of the Game
Devine Redding, Indiana- Redding ran well behind the Indiana line that sports two All-Americans.
Shaun Wilson, Duke- The running back had 103 yards on the ground with a touchdown and added another 164 on four kickoff returns including a game-changing 98-yard touchdown return.
What I Took Away From The Game
As a writer from New York City and a lifelong Yankee fan, this was an awesome experience. As an IU football fan and writer this was as gut wrenching as it gets. The Hoosiers fell behind early and looked like a team that hadn’t played a game in a month. Nate Sudfeld looked rusty as he missed throws and had two picks early. The defense kept Indiana in the game early before surrendering 44 total points, while the special teams absolutely imploded. A fumbled punt led to a touchdown, there was a kick return for a score, and IU missed two field goals. While IU may have been the better team statistically, special teams turned the game in Duke’s favor.
Did the Hoosiers get too cute in overtime?
I thought so, but Kevin Wilson said, “We did a first play, I think we did a little play-action, three-layered pass, we checked down. (On the second play) we kind of ran the reverse pass. Might have went to Mitchell a little too much. Might have been a little gassed. Third down we actually thought we could get a screen. Thought they would blitz. They kind of got us a little too quick. We actually thought they were going to blitz. Tried to hit the tailback screen that we thought really could pop. Got caught up in the clutter. Nate was forced to get it off.”
So what now? Where does IU go from here? Well, it’s onto recruiting. The Hoosiers finished a disappointing 6-7. It was disappointing in the sense that the Hoosiers couldn’t pull one of these close games out for a big win. This team was an absolutely amazing team to cover and they should be proud of the season they had. Indiana needs to get Wilson’s contract done as soon as possible so they can go out and bring some new talent to this program. 2016 will not be 2008 when the Hoosiers just did not have the talent to replicate the success of 2007. IU should be as good if not better on paper, and have a manageable schedule.