Its finally the weekend, and we have officially passed 6-week mark until kick-off, so crack open a beer and celebrate, or a coke if your under-21, because we absolutely don't encourage underage drinking in college... We’re almost there, ok maybe not, but kind of!In our third edition of our Throwback To 2012 series we will be taking a look at last years Week Three matchup against Ball State. Make sure you hide the young ones as this one might get ugly.
Opponent: Ball State University Cardinals
This marked the seventh time the Hoosiers and Cardinals have squared off with, Indiana leading the series 4-2. However, recent results did not vouch for those trends as Ball State had won the previous two meetings by a combined score of 69-40. The Cardinals finished the 2011 season with a 6-6 mark placing them 4th in the MAC West under first year head coach Pete Lembo.
Saturday September 15th | 8:00 pm | Memorial Stadium | Bloomington, Indiana
Why They Played:
The Indiana-Ball State series holds some potential as an in-state David vs. Goliath match-up. While it had only been played six times, every game has come after 1997. The match-up has become more competitive since 2008 when Ball State traveled to Bloomington and shocked the Hoosiers in impressive fashion to the tune of 42-20. The recent success continued when the Cardinals defeated Indiana at Lucas Oil Field 27-20 in 2011.
Ball State travels better than the average fan would expect, as it is a bigger school than most think, with nearly twenty thousand undergraduate students. While this is good for the program from the financial side, as a football team having the stands filled with your opponent’s fans is not something you want whatsoever.
What The Game Meant:
This game was supposed to be part pay back and part litmus test for the Hoosiers, who had fallen to the Cardinals to open Kevin Wilson’s tenure in 2011. Indiana was also looking to start 3-0 for the first time since 2010. As a Big Ten team it is never good, and even flat out embarrassing to lose to a MAC level team, especially one from your own state. Add to that, the fact that it happened at Memorial Stadium, and you have yourself a downright disaster.
Top Offensive Performers:
Cody Latimer, WR, Indiana- The sophomore receiver was the king of the big play on the day. He hauled in 4 receptions for 115 yards while scoring two touchdowns. His brightest highlight was when he broke off a 70 catch and run late in the fourth quarter to pull the Hoosiers back into the game.
Stephen Houston, RB, Indiana- Houston paced the Hoosier running attack on the day, gaining 102 yards on the ground with receiving just 12 carries. He was also able to add a touchdown to his totals. While the Hoosiers did not run the ball particularly well in this one, Houston had his best game of the season to this point.
Keith Wenning, QB, Ball State- Wenning torched the Hoosiers defense for 222 yards and 3 scores through the air, and tacked on 40 yards on the ground for good measure. Wenning even caught a touchdown pass. Wenning was the bane of the Hoosiers existence in Week Three.
Willie Snead, WR, Ball State- The Florida native had a very solid day racking up 85 yards and a touchdown on six catches.
Top Defensive Performers:
Greg Heban, S, Indiana- The Muncie native played his heart out trying to top his hometown team. The junior safety accounted for 8 total tackles, including one for a loss, and 2 pass break-ups.
Johnathon Newsome, DE, Ball State- Newsome wrecked havoc on in the Indiana backfield compiling 2 sacks and 6 total tackles.
Special Teams Performance:
Indiana finally put together a complete performance on special teams in Week Three. Kicker Mitch Ewald converted all four of his PATs and nailed a 46-yard field goal to open the scoring on the day. Punter Mitchell Voss averaged a respectable 37.3 yards on his 7 punts including two that he had downed inside of the 20-yard line. Finally the return game came to life with speedster Shane Wynn providing the juice. He returned 3 kicks for 65 yards.
Key Stat: 9-18
This was the 3rd down conversion rate for the Ball State offense. The Hoosiers did a decent enough job of forcing the Cardinals into 3rd down situations, however that’s where the execution ended. Ball State converted on fifty-percent of their third-down situations, an unsustainable number for a team trying to win. This kept the explosive Hoosier offense on the sideline while wearing down an already subpar defense.
The turning point of this one came with just six seconds left to play in the game. Indiana had just worked to erase the Cardinals 13-point lead over the last five minutes. Immediately after that Ball State signal caller Keith Wenning lead the Cardinals on a 7-play, 44-yard drive, of which the penultimate play was a pass to Willie Snead down the sideline for 18-yards setting up a Ball State field goal attempt from the Hoosier 25-yard line with just one-second remaining. Officials reviewed the play, however, they deemed that there was not conclusive evidence to overturn the ruling on the field.
The Game was Over When:
Steven Schott’s 42-yard field goal sailed through the uprights as time expired and breaking the hearts of Hoosier fans.
Players of the Game:
Indiana- Cody Latimer, Wide Receiver
The sophomore wideout kick started the Indiana offense when he took a pass 70 yards for a score to bring the Hoosiers to within six-points with just over four minutes remaining in the game. Overall he hauled in 6 passes and 2 touchdowns for the game.
Ball State- Keith Wenning, Quarterback
The Cardinals’ field general made a difference in all three aspects on offense. He threw for 3 touchdowns, caught another, and ran for 40 yards on the ground. Wenning made the plays when he had to and used all of the tools available to him to pull out the victory. It truly was a remarkable performance that will be talked about for years on the Ball State campus.
This defeat broke the hearts of the Hoosier players and fans alike. While it is admirable that the players showed their fight and refused to quit at any point, the fact is that there are no moral victories in college football, especially not for a Big Ten team playing a MAC foe. This was the first game of the season in which the Hoosiers had a question mark under center. The most important revelation from the Week Three loss was that both Cam Coffman and Nate Sudfeld proved they could handle running the offense, which bode well for the remainder of the 2012 slate.
Make sure you check back next week as we take a look back at the start of the 2012 Big Ten schedule with games against Northwestern and rival Michigan State.