Written Sammy Jacobs (@Hoosier_Huddle)
Opponent: Iowa Hawkeyes
Location: Saturday November 7th /3:37pm/ Memorial Stadium/ (Bloomington, IN)
Why They Played: The Hawkeyes and Hoosiers met as their crossover game with the West Division
What The Game Meant:
Coming off a bye week the Hoosiers were rested and ready to knock off their first top-10 team since 1987. The game would have rejuvenated the fan base that has grown frustrated with what is now a five-game losing streak.
Top Offensive Performers:
Jordan Howard, RB, Indiana- Howard had his most impressive game of the season scoring twice on a team that had allowed just one rushing touchdown on the year. He finished the day with 174 yards on 22 carries. That’s a staggering 8.6 yards per carry.
Akrum Wadley, RB, Iowa- Wadley got off to a hot start with a 65-yard touchdown on the second play from scrimmage. He finished with 120 yards on 12 carries before leaving the game with an ankle injury.
C.J. Beathard, QB, Iowa- The junior quarterback did not light the world on fire, but he made the play when he had to with both his arm and his aching legs. Beathard was 12 of 20 passing for a pedestrian 131 yards with no touchdowns, but no interceptions either. However, he was deadly with his feet extending plays and leaping into the end zone for a score.
Top Defensive Performers:
Chase Dutra, S, Indiana- Dutra stood out for the Hoosiers with 10 total tackles and 1.5 tackles for a loss.
Josey Jewell, LB, Iowa- Jewel was all over the field for the Hawkeyes as he had a game-high 15 tackles, a tackle for loss and a couple of pass break-ups. He paced an Iowa defense that held Nate Sudfeld in check.
Special Team Performance:
The Hoosiers were once again solid, but not spectacular on special teams. Oakes bounced back nicely from a rough outing at Michigan State hitting two field goals and all three extra points. He put two kickoffs out for touchbacks. The return game did get 23 yards per return, but again is lacking on the explosive, game changing play. Erich Toth had a really great day averaging 41.8 yards per punt on 5 punts, pinning two inside the 20-yard line with no touchbacks. Indiana did fail an onside kick attempt late in the game. It was a great kick that took a good bounce, but linebacker Chris Covington just could not corral it.
Again there are a lot of stats we can point to that decided the game. IU allowed Iowa to convert on 50-percent of their third downs, recorded no sacks or turnovers, totaled just seven yards of five tackles for a loss, or dropped six passes, but this game came down to Indiana’s quarterback’s yards per attempt. 4.86 yards per attempt was what Nate Sudfeld averaged in an eight-point loss. He finished just 180 yards with a pick and a touchdown. He completed a paltry 43.2-percent of his passes. Even with the dropped passes Sudfeld was “a little bit off” Indiana head coach Kevin Wilson said after the game. Sudfeld picked a bad week to have a bad game.
There is no doubt in my mind that this game changed when Indiana linebacker T.J. Simmons was ejected after being called for a targeting penalty with about three minutes left in the first half with IU leading 17-14. The call was questionable at best, as the Iowa receiver, Trevaun Smith, ducked his head into the tackle. He was wobbly coming off the field, but was able to return to make several big catches. Had the play been overturned Iowa would have been facing a third and seven. Instead they went on to score the go-ahead touchdown heading into halftime.
I Knew it Was Over When…
Henry Kriger-Coble wrestled the onside kick from the outstretched arms of Chris Covington. Iowa would be able to run out the clock from there.
Players of the Game
Jordan Howard, Indiana- Howard was a monster for IU today and it was a shame that IU could not get him the ball more in the second half. He averaged 7.9 yards per carry and IU was able to move the ball on the ground.
C.J. Beathard, Iowa- It wasn’t pretty, but that’s Iowa football. Beathard got the job done and kept the Hawkeyes’ playoff hopes alive.
What I took away from the game
I think the fans have heard enough about the close calls, giving a team a run for their money. Time is running out for this season, especially with a Michigan team that sports a terrific defense coming to town next week. This game was right there for the taking and the Hoosiers dropped their chance. Iowa’s offense did just enough to win and the Indiana defense did what it is supposed to do, that is to give the Hoosier offense the ball with a chance to take leads or tack on points. To me this game falls on the shoulders of quarterback Nate Sudfeld and his receivers and tight ends. Sudfeld was brutal tonight completing just around 43-percent of his pass. His receivers did drop six passes as well. However, when you’re arguably the top passer in the conference and a senior, it is time to step up and make plays.
As I said above the game changed on the outrageous ejection of T.J. Simmons. That was not targeting. He did not launch himself and he did not “target” the head of the Iowa receiver. He went low and the Iowa receiver ducked into the hit. Indiana had all the momentum and maybe comes up with a stop and scores again before halftime.
Ah, halftime. That brings me to my next little rant. Can IU please get rid of the pass outs? It is getting embarrassing, especially when ESPN’s announcers are calling out the fans in a one-score game against a top-10 opponent. The announced attendance was a laughable 44,739. The actual attendance was maybe 25,000, maybe. Yes, losing sucks. Yes, IU needs to win. But 25,000 on a perfect fall day, come on. Rumor has it that there was zero buzz on campus for this game. It has to be a thorn in the side of Athletic Director Fred Glass to hear a loud “Let’s go Hawks” chant with IU down just eight. By the way credit to the Hawkeye fans they travelled very well today.
Indiana has three games left to grab two wins. Yes, they can go to a bowl at five if certain things happen. Next week may be even tougher and I suspect it will be a pro-Michigan crowd on Senior Day.
The Hoosiers need to get back to forcing turnovers, the saving grace of the defense during their 4-0 start. Right now this team is reeling and it could just go straight off the cliff with a sixth straight loss next week, but there are always those two games to close the season at Maryland and Purdue to keep the bowl hopes alive.