Andy Graham’s Indiana-Arkansas State reports

PREGAME

“Indiana Our Indiana,” Indiana University’s fight song, actually sounds pretty good on bagpipes.

Dave McDonald — bearing bagpipes and resplendent in his Black Stewart tartan and crimson IU T-shirt — was spotted strolling through Memorial Stadium’s westside parking lots about an hour before kickoff, regaling tailgaters with versions of “Scotland the Brave,” “Minstrel Boy,” “The Green Hills of Tyrol” and the fight song.

McDonald is one of eight pipers and four drummers from the Bloomington Metro Firefighters Pipes & Drums ensemble, led by Rob Stumpf, that was hired by IU athletic director Fred Glass to help entertain and enliven fans pregame.

But it’s going to be a late-arriving crowd today, if it arrives at all. Noon kickoffs are not conducive to prompt student attendance, and make it tough from people driving from Indianapolis  — or Fort Wayne and other points north — to get to Bloomington with any sort of reasonable comfort zone. But it’s glorious weather, and it’s Homecoming, so perhaps the stands will fill a bit more as we move along.

This should be an entertaining game, with both offenses potent. Arkansas State’s offense has a penchant for big plays, which Indiana’s defense has a penchant for giving up, so there should be plenty of points scored today. In one of those statistical anomalies that crop up periodically, ASU averages 413 yards of offense, which is exactly what IU’s defense surrenders per game, on average. IU should be favored in this one, and a win is absolutely essential for its bowl hopes, but this game could be very competitive, and an upset is certainly not out of the question.

As always, I’ll be adding some thoughts as the game progresses, below the jump.

FIRST QUARTER: Arkansas State 7, Indiana 3.

Well, Indiana didn’t exactly inspire the Homecoming crowd (such as it is) with its start. IU’s opening drive bogged down at midfield and, after the punt, ASU moved smartly 85 yards down the field in 12 plays to score. Senior defensive leaders Tyler Replogle and Mitch Evans were among those who missed tackles during the drive.

Evans got redemption on ASU’s next possession, after yet another IU punt, when he cut in front of a Ryan Aplin pass for an interception and 24-yard return to the ASU 5. IU’s offense then did some curious things in failing to capitalize with a TD. The Hoosiers inserted their scat-back, Zach Davis-Walker, and proceeded to run him right up the middle twice, producing 3 yards and a couple of crushing hits on Davis-Walker. Only then did Ben Chappell get a chance, but couldn’t find anybody open as he rolled right. Result: 20-yard Mitch Ewald field goal.

HALFTIME: Arkansas State 14, Indiana 12.

Mitch Evans supplies a pair of interceptions to set Indiana up deep in ASU territory, but only two field goals result. Not good.

After Ewald’s second field goal, Roderick Hall returned the kickoff 71 yards,  a play during which there were no fewer than three missed tackles by IU’s coverage team.

ASU gets the ball to start the second half, too.

At least IU’s offense got untracked a bit toward the end of the half, with a 7-play, 80-yard TD march. Deep patterns had appeared open at other junctures, but the Hoosiers hadn’t quite connected until Chappell found Duwyce Wilson for 37 yards to the ASU 11. Chappell stood in well against the rush and took a big hit to deliver the 8-yard TD pass to Tandon Doss on a 3rd-and-7. IU opted to try to 2, but Chappell couldn’t find Doss on the conversion, so the Red Wolves took their lead into intermission.

Just an aside, but ASU tailback Sirgregory Thornton clearly makes IU’s all-time opponent all-name team.

An unhappy aside: the news about Purdue’s Robbie Hummel blowing out his ACL in the same knee that was injured last year is just sickening. Purdue basketball had legitimate national title hopes this season, now almost certainly dashed, but it’s especially tough on Hummel, by all accounts a really good guy and obviously a terrific all-ar0und player. What shapes up as a tremendous Big Ten basketball season will be a bit poorer for his absence.

THIRD QUARTER: Indiana 19, Arkansas State 14

Ben Chappell errs on the side of throwing high. With the average height of IU’s receivers, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. He put the ball up for Damarlo Belcher and Terrance Turner to go get in the third quarter, and the second of those two catches was a terrific two-handed snag by Turner over top  of Kelcie McCray for a 27-yard TD and IU’s first lead of the day at 4:08 of the third quarter.

FINAL: Indiana 36, Arkansas State 34.

Turned into the expected nail-biter at the end, due in part to turnovers. IU’s Trea Burgess, who otherwise had an admirable game rushing, lost two fumbles in the final period. IU had terrible problems on kickoff coverage, and allowed ASUs Ryan Aplin to complete a school single game-record 33 passes, but survived in a game it had to win.

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