After a 14-0 lead to the ballgame against Rutgers on Saturday, the Indiana offense was unable to get any more offensive production for the rest of the game, resulting in a 24-17 loss for the Hoosiers. This loss hurts the chances Indiana has to make a bowl game, as the team will have to win three of its final four games in order to qualify.
The start of the game was very promising for Indiana. Jaylin Lucas continued his sudden breakout, returning the opening kickoff 93 yards for a touchdown. After a stop by the IU defense, the Hoosiers completed another touchdown drive with a seven-yard run from Connor Bazelak. But after that drive, it was almost as if the IU offense went missing.
Part of the Hoosiers’ problem was the playcalling putting themselves in a lot of third and long situations. This helped Rutgers get much better field position resulting in the Scarlet Knights scoring 24 unanswered points. A big part of this was the IU defense being on the field for what felt like the majority of the game, resulting in some fatigue for Tom Allen’s crew.
Another consistent problem that was very evident in this game was the lack of a competent run game for Indiana. The team had a total of 19 carries and only produced 62 yards, which is just over three yards per carry. Although IU made a change promoting Rod Carey to offensive line coach, it still feels like the same struggling run blocking that we’ve seen this entire season.
And finally, Bazelak’s throwing and decision making really went downhill once the Hoosiers fell behind. Whether it was overthrowing receivers, or a interception returned for a touchdown by Rutgers’ Christian Braswell to seal the deal, it seemed as though the struggling offense was too much mentally for Indiana, resulting in a 24-17 loss.
This loss puts Indiana at 3-5 on the season, with a 1-4 record in the Big Ten. The Hoosiers now head into the bye week preparing for what now is a much more difficult road to a bowl game than that of two weeks ago. With Penn State, Ohio State, Michigan State and Purdue on the remaining schedule, it’s safe to say that IU will need almost a miracle to go bowling this season.