What has just been witnessed I still haven’t entirely processed. But let’s try our best to recap.
On a Friday night at TCF Bank Stadium, Indiana almost saved its season. Minnesota, winless in conference play to this point, made the Hoosiers look like the ones that just don’t belong in the Big Ten for the better part of three quarters of football. When the Hoosiers figured things couldn’t get worse in rainy Minneapolis, they did, but Peyton Ramsey finally found ways to loosen up and had a phenomenal fourth quarter. The defense came alive too. Back and forth the Hoosiers and Gophers went in the final minutes, but Indiana gave up a late score and a fumble. In an essentially must-win (and should-win) situation for Indiana, the Hoosiers failed to show up. Though Indiana certainly competed late, it wasn’t enough. Rapid reaction below.
O Defense, Where Art Thou?
Secondary. Yikes. Undoubtedly the most concerning aspect of tonight’s performance, or lack thereof, was the absolute disappearance of the Hoosier defense in the first half, especially over the middle of the field. We knew what sort of curveballs redshirt freshman Tanner Morgan was capable of throwing IU’s way if he ended up playing tonight, but what we all witnessed Friday was simply unexpected. In his first career collegiate start, Morgan and the Gophers offense walked all over Indiana for most of the evening, and the Hoosiers seemed content to sit back and just let it happen for most of the night. This defense has without a doubt relied on the leadership of Reakwon Jones and Jonathan Crawford all year long, and for the vast majority of tonight’s contest, nobody showed up. Frighteningly similar to the way Nate Stanley and the Iowa offense did the same to IU less than two weeks ago, Morgan found success over the middle of the field and attacked Indiana with short, slant throws which gave way for painfully slow scoring drives down the field.
The difference? In particular Tom Allen fashion, the defense picked this team up once again, but as we’ve seen more than a few times in 2018, not one phase can do it alone. Minnesota’s offense dictated tempo and momentum all night long on a night where it frankly should’ve been the other way around.
Sluggish Offense on a Friday Night
The way Peyton Ramsey finally found a way to settle in late on the road was nothing short of remarkable. Other than that, it was an extremely uncharacteristic performance from Indiana’s offense in Minneapolis. Things looked unnecessarily rushed from the get-go. Ramsey didn’t make reads the way he has so well at times this season, and just did some things that left Hoosier fans scratching their heads; Ramsey became tentative when he needed to take shots deep, and finally loosened up in the second half, but only once it was far too late. Though Stevie Scott continued to get back to basics on the ground, that’s really where the good stops for Indiana tonight. Mind you, an 0-6 Nebraska team found a way to put up 53 points on this Minnesota defense. Beyond Carter Coughlin and Blake Cashman, it’s nothing special, but even midway through tonight’s third quarter, Indiana had yet to find a way to score. Sigh.
Basketball Season in Bloomington?
It’s not that Indiana can’t still become bowl eligible, but the Hoosiers absolutely just made it that much harder on themselves moving forward. There was a collective feeling coming into tonight that this was indeed a must-win against a struggling Minnesota team, especially with what remains on IU’s schedule. Whether or not the Hoosiers can manage at least two wins against Maryland, Michigan, or Purdue — it remains to be seen. One thing can be certain. As Indiana Basketball tips off its most anticipated season in recent history on November 6th, it’ll be a tough ask for Hoosier fans to stay tuned in, especially as the Hoosiers hit the bye next week.