Written By Sammy Jacobs (@sammyj108)
The Hoosiers had a chance to make a huge statement after an early season loss to Navy and finish the non-conference slate 3-1. They did not. Instead the Hoosiers fell back to .500 and Missouri was on its way to a championship season.
Opponent: Missouri Tigers
Location: Saturday September 21st /8pm/ Memorial Stadium/ (Bloomington, Indiana)
Why They Played: The Hoosiers and the Tigers met as part of a home-and-home series that concludes in Columbia next year. It was the first time since 2005 that Indiana has faced an SEC foe. Indiana tried to beef up their schedule in order to boost attendance and increase revenue.
What The Game Meant:
The Hoosiers’ bowl hopes may have rested on winning this game. Indiana would need at least four wins in conference after this loss. This was a huge night for the Hoosiers. There were over 50 recruits in town, it was the prime time game on Big Ten Network, and the IU athletic department made this out to be the game of the century.
Top Offensive Performers:
Cody Latimer, WR, Indiana- The junior receiver finished one yard short of setting a new career high. Latimer, with his second great game in a row, finished with 8 catches for 136 yards and a score. Latimer also made the play of the game as he took a short pass 77-yards to set up a Tevin Coleman touchdown that tied the game at 14.
Dorial Green-Beckham, WR, Missouri- The former top recruit was a mismatch for the Hoosier defense all game. Green-Beckham, at 6-6, was head and shoulders above the Indiana defensive backfield and it showed as he finished with 8 receptions for 103 yards and a score.
James Franklin, QB, Missouri- After being plagued by two early interceptions, the Mizzou signal caller had a great game. Franklin threw for 343 yards and two touchdowns. In addition, Franklin ran 13 times for 61 yards and another touchdown. To say that he looks healthy again is an understatement.
Top Defensive Performers
Greg Heban, S, Indiana- The senior safety had his best game of the season thus far. Heban kept Missouri out of the end zone as he intercepted Franklin twice at the goal line, in addition to recording seven tackles.
Kony Ealy, DT, Missouri- The big fella made the play of the game for the Tigers as he leaped up to snatch a Nate Sudfeld pass out of the air and rumbled 49 yards for a touchdown right before halftime, ending the Hoosiers drive to tie the game. While Ealy only recorded one tackle, he disrupted Indiana’s rhythm all night.
Special Team Performance:
The Hoosier special teams are becoming a problem spot in 2013. While Mitch Ewald has been solid, but is untested after only attempting one field goal. The real troubling areas are the punt game and the kick return. Erich Toth, who punted nine times Saturday night, was awful. Toth averaged 41.2 yards a punt thanks to some great bounces, but it is clear that when the Hoosier offense is not clicking they will not win the field position game. Even more concerning is the lack of the Hoosier return game. While touchbacks are more common in today’s game, when the Hoosiers actually get a shot at returning the kick they do not make an impact on field position. With the lack of a punting game and a young defense it is important that the Hoosiers gain an advantage in the field position game through a good kick return game.
Missouri held a 13 first down advantage over the Hoosiers and it showed on the field. Indiana’s defense played well enough to win the game, but ran out of gas because of the offense’s lack of time on the field. The Hoosier offense struggled to sustain drives all night and that led to a gassed defense.
The turning point of this game was pretty clear. With the Hoosiers trailing 21-14 with under two minutes to go in the first half, Indiana was looking to get on the board before they headed to the locker room. Instead the Hoosiers found themselves falling behind 28-14 after Ealy took a Nate Sudfeld pass for a touchdown.
I Knew it was over when…
When L’Damien Washington hauled in a 14-yard pass to increase the Tiger lead to 38-14. This effectively put the game out of reach for a Hoosier team who could not get into rhythm offensively.
Players of the Game
Indiana– Cody Latimer, Wide Receiver- Latimer was one of the few bright spots for an offense that struggled against a very fast defense. He nearly set a career high in receiving yards and made the play of the game for the Hoosiers to set up the tying score.
Missouri- James Franklin, Quarterback- Franklin looked 100% healthy after an injury riddled 2012 season, as he carved up the Indiana defense. He kept plays alive with his feet and killed the Hoosiers with big throws.
What I took away from the game
The bye week comes at a perfect time for the Hoosiers after this loss raised further questions about the quarterback situation and the defense. While the defense did let up 38 points, they played well enough to win this game, the offense was a total let down. Nate Sudfeld looked human throwing three interceptions and just could not get into rhythm. The loss hurts the Hoosiers shot at becoming bowl eligible no doubt about it, but this was not an easy game for Indiana. There is still a long way to go before the season is over. Indiana has eight games left and could very well go 4-4 in those games to get bowl eligible, but there is a lot of work to do before the Hoosiers play Penn State in nine days.