Unfortunately for the Hoosiers, the Buckeyes proved too big, too fast and too strong for their gutty but overmatched opponents.
The Indiana Hoosiers (1-9, 0-6) fell Saturday to the Ohio State Buckeyes by a 34-20 score. Dan â€˜Boomâ€™ Herron paced the Ohio State rushing attack with 141 yards on only 14 carries â€“ an average of more than 10 yards per carry â€“ while Braxton Miller and Carlos Hyde added 105 yards apiece. The Buckeyes needed every rushing yard they could get, as their aerial attack was rendered impotent by conservative playcalling and by the Indiana defense.
The defense played a role early on, as the Hoosiers kicked a field goal on their first possession and managed to sack Miller, forcing a fumble and recovering it. IU took advantage of the turnover as Stephen Houston ran a direct snap into the end zone to give the Hoosiers a 10-0 lead. Kevin Wilson talked after the game about the quick start, but while he acknowledged that it was important, he also made sure to point out that the fast start wasnâ€™t entirely of Indianaâ€™s doing.
â€œThey helped us with the turnover,â€ he said. â€œThe first play, they kicked it out of bounds and you start on the 40 and we get three points. Then they turn it over and we get sevenâ€¦ we were fortunate early on and took advantage of some situations that swung our way.â€
The story of Lee Corso taking a timeout so he could take a picture of the scoreboard when Indiana was beating Ohio State is well known in IU football circles and most fans of the team had to be thinking something similar when the Hoosiers took a two-score lead early in the game.
Sure enough, Ohio State mounted a comeback as Braxton Miller scored on an 81-yard touchdown run and the offense kicked two field goals to take a 13-10 lead. The Buckeyes moved the ball into scoring position on big plays, but with the exception of four big plays had only seven yards on 12 plays in the first half. For a defense that had been embarrassed in recent weeks, allowing only 13 points in the first half could be considered a moral victory.
â€œThis week we just wanted to prove ourselves,â€ said Chase Hoobler. â€œAs a defense, weâ€™ve not been hitting like we should the last couple weeks and I had to step it up personally.â€
Hoobler stepped it up all right, totaling nine tackles including three for loss and two sacks, and serving as the linchpin of Mike Ekelerâ€™s defense.
â€œAll week it was â€˜hat-in-hands, hat-in-handsâ€™, be physical and play with technique,â€ he laughed. We just have to keep getting better, thatâ€™s all there is to it.â€
Indianaâ€™s defense played better than it had, previously in the season and made some positive things happen. They totaled six sacks on the day â€“ by far the highest total of the season â€“ and limited Braxton Miller to four yards through the air in the second half.
Despite all their successes, they still gave up too many big plays and after the two teams traded touchdowns to make the socre 20 apiece, Ohio State took the lead for good on a Braxton Miller 20-yard quarterback draw that met minimal defensive resistance. After the game, Larry Black delivered a stark assessment of his teamâ€™s defensive performance, which could apply to that play specifically.
â€œIt was ours to take,â€ he said matter-of-factly. â€œWe had the opportunity and just couldnâ€™t capitalize.â€
The offense had a couple chances to cut into the Buckeye lead, but Justin Pagan committed a penalty backing IU out of field goal range and Tre Roberson threw an interception on the next drive, effectively ending the threat.
Despite the losing effort, there were a few bright spots. Tre Roberson totaled nearly 250 yards and Kofi Hughes had eight catches for 147 yards and a touchdown. Kevin Wilson didnâ€™t seem interested in statistical milestones or moral victories afterwards.
â€œWe still lost,â€ he said. â€œThatâ€™s what we takeâ€¦ I actually thought we were going to win. I just thought, looking at the matchup, that if we played like we were capable of weâ€™d be in the thick of it.â€
The Hoosiers will have a chance to regroup this week as they will enjoy a bye week late in the season. After the bye, they travel to East Lansing to take on Michigan State (7-2, 4-1).