Comeback falls short in IU’s 34-27 loss to Ohio State #iufb

A spirited attempt at the biggest upset in program history was met with a dousing of cold water when Indiana lost quarterback Nate Sudfeld and running back Jordan Howard to injuries midway through Saturday’s game at Memorial Stadium.

And depending on the upcoming availability of both players, the Hoosiers may have serious problems moving forward. Although Indiana proved to a national television audience that it is no pushover in a 34-27 loss to No. 1 Ohio State, the health of Sudfeld, IU’s most indispensable player, and Howard, the nation’s leading rusher, becomes the focus as the Hoosiers enter the teeth of their schedule.

Indiana coach Kevin Wilson said after the game that both players are dealing with ankle injuries, the severity of which way not be fully understood until the Hoosiers enter the practice week.

“They’re both good enough players that they don’t have to practice every play,” Wilson said. “I do think timing is always a part of Nate’s deal, so we’ll see. He wanted to go back in the last couple drives. I just didn’t feel he was as mobile.”

Even without their two top players, the Hoosiers nearly made it a famous afternoon in Bloomington. Indiana hung with the nation’s top team from start to finish, finding Ezekiel Elliott touchdown runs of 55, 65 and 75 yards as the difference between a headline-stealing upset and its first loss of the season.

Backup quarterback Zander Diamont nearly led Indiana to the game-tying score in the final seconds, guiding the team from its own 43 to the Ohio State 5-yard line. A false start penalty against tight end Jordan Fuchs knocked them back five yards on second down, and facing fourth-and-goal from the OSU 9, Diamont was dealt a bad snap and watched his last second heave fall incomplete in the end zone.

Diamont finished with a team-high 98 rushing yards, including a 79-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter. Devine Redding replaced Jordan Howard during the second quarter and rushed for two scores. Indiana has shown a knack for making Ohio State sweat in the annual matchup, but the Hoosiers feel they’ve built to a point where moral victories are not at all satisfactory.

“We’re not playing to come close,” Diamont said. “We thought we were going to win. I know a lot of people outside this building don’t maybe believe that, but we thought we were going to beat Ohio State. We could have beat Ohio State. Although it’s encouraging, no one’s walking out of here cheering about coming close.”

The teams combined for 919 yards of total offense, including 272 rushing yards from Ohio State. But take away Elliott’s three long runs, and the Buckeyes would’ve had a mere 77.

“One time we didn’t tackle, the last one, but the other two times we just didn’t structurally fit the play properly, and they blocked us,” Wilson said. “He’s a good player.”

Indiana led until midway through the third quarter, building a 10-6 halftime advantage on a 34-yard field goal by Griffin Oakes in the first quarter and a two-yard touchdown run by Redding in the second. The sophomore running back capped a 15-play, 80-yard drive to give the Hoosiers a 10-0 lead two minutes into the second period.

But the bulk of the credit Saturday belonged to the Hoosier defense, which forced back-to-back three-and-outs to open the game and held the Buckeyes to only 14 first-half rushing yards. Indiana’s most remarkable achievement through the first 30 minutes was its ability to stand tall on third down, allowing Ohio State to convert only one of its first seven third-down attempts.

“Those kids battled,” Wilson said about his defense.

Ohio State had to settle for a pair of first-half field goals from Jack Willoughby, who connected from 23 and 26 yards. The 26-yarder came after Indiana’s puzzling decision to try a fake punt from its own 16-yard line. The move backfired when punter Erich Toth was stopped three yards behind the line of scrimmage, giving the Buckeyes the ball at the IU 13.

After Elliott picked up five yards on first down, Cardale Jones fired back-to-back passes out of the end zone and OSU settled for the field goal. Though IU did enough to bottle up Elliott for most of the afternoon, he broke free in the second half.

Elliott gave Ohio State its first lead of the day at 8:57 of the third quarter, converting a third-and-two situation with a 55-yard scoring run. Later in the period, on Indiana’s second drive without Sudfeld, Redding capped a five-play, 55-yard possession with a two-yard touchdown run by Redding.

But Elliott answered on the ensuing possession, this time converting a fourth-and-one handoff with a 65-yard touchdown that put Ohio State ahead 20-17. The Buckeyes led the rest of the way, pulling ahead 27-17 when Jones hit Michael Thomas for a 23-yard touchdown pass on the first play of the fourth quarter.

Indiana hung around deep into the evening, twice cutting its deficit to one possession over the final 10 minutes. A 34-yard field goal by Griffin Oakes briefly brought the Hoosiers within seven points at the 10:37 mark before Elliott broke free for a 75-yard touchdown run on the first play of the next drive.

Diamont authored the longest quarterback run in IU history on the first play of the Hoosiers’ ensuing possession when he dashed left for a 79-yard touchdown run that cut the OSU lead to 34-27 with 10:03 to play. And he wasn’t done, nearly sparking the Hoosiers to the game-tying drive at the end of the day.

That opportunity was stunted when he was given a bad snap on the final play and had to force a throw toward the end zone, where it was batted away as the clock expired.

Whether Diamont gets a chance at redemption next Saturday at Penn State will be the biggest question facing the Hoosiers over the next six days.

“He came out and played his butt off today,” tight end Anthony Corsaro said. “We didn’t play well enough to win, but I’ll take that kid in my corner any day of the week.”

33 comments

  1. Sudfeld IU’s most indespensible player? Ha. Yeah. Hardly. That would be Jordan Howard. Sudfeld was off before he got hurt, like he always is against any opponent with a pulse. Zander breathed life into the offense. He can move and throws it well enough (IU’s receivers are brutal). It would never happen in a million years but I would start ZD next week regardless of Sudfeld’s ankle. We need Howard back.

  2. The headline should read, “OSU hangs on against IU.” IU’s effort and performance were outstanding today.

  3. Love the fight and the will to compete. Despite the long TD runs – something that has to be rectified – the defense played a great game, as odd as that sounds. Kudos to Diamont. Hope Howard and Sudfeld are okay.

  4. Podunker, you are right about the headline and I hope they go back and change it. D-Bone I agree with you too, the problem with the runs was the MLB overrunning the ball,like he usually does, and DL getting caved down by two gaps. The DBs are young and OSU spread them out to keep them from making tackles in the line like they did in the first half.

    If IU continues to play this hard the rest of the year Wilson will get an extension and IU will get looks and committments from 4 and 5 star players. If one of the young QBs step up with a great arm and Howard comes back next year the team will be even better next year with another year under their belt and with the transfers becoming eligible next year. Especially if they get young 4 or 5 star players ready to play coming in.

  5. HC you are right as the coaches are doing a great job about the players hanging on to the ball and not throwing Int. Both teams played so hard today I doubt many get out of bed tomorrow. I also wonder if Latham wonders if he cost the team a chance to beat OSU. Maybe if he does he will finally do what is right from now on.

    If IU plays like this the rest of the season they could start getting more 4 star and also some 5 star players to come to IU. Even Purdue had a chance to beat MSU although they were about 40 yards from the G.L. They had to come from 21-0. MSU’s DBs aren’t very good this year so if our receivers will catch the ball we could knock MSU off.

  6. Just as a side note I wonder if all the people saying IU would win 5 or fewer games on the poll still feel the same way tonight.

  7. with Jordan Howard and Ricky Brookins injury who is the backup running back to Devine Redding, he cannot continue to with 30 carries a game?? Nate Sudfeld and Jordan Howard had ankle injuries?? does anyone know how serious Ricky Brookins injury is??

  8. v13, probably not, but you can’t really blame those folks after way IU played against Southern Illinois.

    I wonder if OSU would have had those big runs had IU’s best defensive lineman played today? It’s a shame that DL let himself and his teammates down by doing whatever he did to get suspended.

    Fant played great today, and IU’s defense is becoming very good at creating turnovers.

  9. What an exciting, hard fought game by the Hoosiers! Just an incredible showcase of heart. I’m so proud to be an IU fan. Hoping for the best for Howard and Sudfeld. Howard wanted to keep playing so bad. Diamont has a lot of courage. Great job men.

  10. A GREAT Football game today!

    Now comes the real test for our program…Penn State on the road is first and then the BIG schedule.

  11. Clock management by coaching staff in the last minute was Terrible! How many time outs did we have remaining at the end of the game?
    RB Rodriguez should have had at least a few carries in prior games and been ready to step up today.
    Proud of defense today, The D line appeared to play with great intensity about 95% of the game.
    Both Sudfield and Jordan were hit from the Left O Line getting beat again, remember Missouri 2014!
    Suspended D line tackle is unreliable and has let his teammates down again….he obviously doesn’t care enough to behave himself. Bye Bye
    Diamont has the heart of Lion, and the nerves of a riverboat gambler. We are fortunate to have him, now that he’s played, IU should not hesitate to call his number to ignite the offense when Sudfeld can’t get it rolling.
    Another disappointing loss to OSU.

  12. I said 8 wins barring major injuries. Looks like that bet is pretty solid.

    Anyone who understands the game of football, saw last week that this was a good football team.

    Indiana in both games, played better than the opposing team for 80% of the game. They’re prone to some brief lapses. Today we lost, last week we held on.

    This is a good football team. They play the game well. They do all the right things teams do to win. Today, the difference was purely talent. Not too many teams have a guy who can rip off three epic TD runs like Ezekiel Elliott can.

  13. I don’t know how bad Howard and Sudfeld’s ankle injuries are but I suspect with the medical staff will have them ready for PSU. I sure hope both are back for the PSU game in full health and ready to play; I hope Latham is back too as we need him. We need to put a lot of pressure on PSU’s QB to help our DBs and LBs get int and create fumbles along with some sacks.

    I think Andrew Wilson R Jr from Columbus East or Alex Rodriguez R Fr from Indy Central if Howard isn’t ready. Both of them are around 215 lbs so they are good sized backs and I think Wilson would probably be the back up.

  14. Dunbar, Sudfeld bad throws were due to his ankle injury against Wake Forest was getting worse the last two series.

  15. Great fun but ultimately unsatisfying. Kind of like getting to chew on a prime cut of steak, done exactly the way you like it, but then not being allowed to swallow. I hope the entire team has that taste in their mouth this whole week (and the rest of the season). Diamont’s comment that IU was “not playing to come close [but to win]” are certainly the right words, but we’ll see against PSU this Sat.

    OSU had serious trouble against No. Ill. last week; maybe they are overrated or more likely can’t get motivated after reading their own press clippings for the last eight months. I can’t figure out why Meyer didn’t air it out in the first half when the IUD kept jamming the line- maybe the OSU pass game is just not that good?

    Lest I seem too negative, the great fun was how this team played- hard, tough, and never a thought of folding even when OSU went up by two TD’s late in the game. If IUFB plays this way the rest of the year, seven wins is doable. But that’s a BIG if; playing one’s best all year long is so hard that the teams that can do it are the teams that end up in title games.

    Even though it was a loss, I think the nat’l. exposure was a positive. IUFB looked major league all sixty minutes and now some recruits’ ears will prick up when KW calls ‘em if they saw this game.

    AND, although I certainly don’t claim to have seen every down of the KW era, the 4th quarter of this game was the first time I ever recall KW bringing heat on a punter- and it almost worked!

  16. …IU’s defense is becoming very good at creating turnovers?…It didn’t just start happening. They’re 9+ in 5 games.

    …clock management of the coaching staff in the last minute was Terrible?…How so? The game ended on a failed 4th down offensive conversion. Clock management was good enough to get the 4th down opportunity. I really didn’t want to have more time left on the clock for OSU to run more EE.

    Damn good games played by Fant, Shaw, Dutra and Mangieri. Scales, Newton and Simmons brought it also.

    The blood in their eyes will be even more prominent next week.

  17. HC you are right about the time management and I am sick of people like JAX that constantly criticize Coach Wilson. IU played physically tough along with mentally tough. The B1G is getting to be a tough conference through and through. I too hope some top recruits listen when IU coaches call and end up coming to IU to play. I also hope it starts keeping the top Indiana players to come to IU. Our team really brought it today and I hope they can do that every week and pull off more big wins. PSU beat Army by 4 points so if IU plays as hard then they can beat them in their house.

  18. i hope Brookins injury isn’t serious. Would love to see Andrew Wilson get some playing time. Either way IU has to devise a sure fire way of getting its RBs around the outside. I don’t recall IU using the quick pitch to Redding like they did with Howard. Thought D played great. Love the improvement , just wished IU could put together a complete game. Go Hoosiers! Beat the Nittnay Lions!

  19. KW and staff coached really well with what they had left as game progressed. The whole approach before (keeping importance of game in perspective) + losing Sudfeld, then Howard, Latham before game. Time management was excellent. Same concept Knight used in bb for last plays of close game and it is excellent strategy. Diamont is not a rookie qb. The last play appeared to had a good chance of being caught. The big concern is how banged up or injured are Sudfeld and Howard plus others. When does Latham come back? Sudfeld injury lingering from WF + How serious is Howard injury for Penn State and throughout the next couple weeks or longer.

  20. My strong but only criticisms of a game full of IU positives is the run game play calling by Johns after JH was hurt. Why keep trying to run around end with a 2nd string back who is not fast enough against a D so strong on the outside run? The Buck’s vulnerability to the run is up the middle, Even that idiot announcer Ed Cunningham recognized it. There are not many OL’s with RB’s who can get around Washington, Bosa, Lee and Lewis. The other is the receiving corp with the exception of Jones. CATCH the pigskin. At IU Deland McCullough #1 RB rule, you fumble you set. As good as Cobb can probably become John’s should provide the same discipline for he and Graham. Even against a strong passing D IU should not go a single game without a passing TD and complete less than 50% of the passes. The WR corp owes the rest of the team big time.

  21. Yes, he was. The last throw by Zander was incredible. He placed it perfectly while backpedaling with two Buckeyes in his face. Probably the best throw I’ve ever seen him make. If Jones hadn’t been held that would have been a play for the ages.

  22. Before worrying about leaving time on the clock perhaps allowing OSU to strike back, the first order of business is to score, tie the game or win by one.
    Pull up the last minute of the game on your DVR, specifically the last 45 seconds. IU didn’t looked settled and organized. I humbly submit they could have burned a time out, taken a breath and focused. The clock ran and ran while the scene on the field and sideline looked somewhat frantic. And then, of course, a rushed, poor snap-and- defensive holding to seal the defeat.
    I’m also sick of people criticizing the coaches. One thing I admire most of Coach Wilson is that he will speak up and own it when the staff is at fault. I predict, in tomorrows presser, the Coach will acknowledge their (coaches) need to put the players in a better position to win. I think IU should extend Wilson’s contract, tomorrow couldn’t be soon enough for me. We need to give the football program the $$’s it needs to attract and retain the finest staff possible. So some of you express you are sick of criticism, well I’m sick of moral victories and narrow defeats. I hope IU playing in Indy on December 5th! There is still a chance.

  23. IU run game see me not to have anywhere to go up middle or outside with Redding. Diamont got a couple + great one to the outside. Penn State is so winnable if IU can go in with most of health back. Caution: OSU is one game. Penn State is a bigger game than OSU because of win- ability ), a game IU should win.

  24. I find it hard to criticize any part of IU’s performance yesterday, but if I had to find fault, obviously IU’s receivers dropped some passes and I do agree with HC that Johns called too many run plays, many of which went for no gain or lost yardage. For a while there, IU’s pattern was 1st down – run, 2nd down – run, 3rd and long – pass. It was obvious and OSU loaded the box and stuffed all of those runs. Then I thought, well, your starting QB is hurt and can’t throw properly. So maybe that had a lot to do with Johns’ calls. Regardless, IU put forth a great effort. If they play that way the remainder of the season, they will go to a bowl game.

  25. I think situation and injuries dictated some play calling playing it close to vest to stay in game and giving yourself a chance…..hoping to make enough plays while decreasing percentages for high risk mistake type plays. About the best strategy IU staff had available to them in reality.

  26. If the snap was good and/or Zander completes that pass on 4th down as the clock ran out it would have looked like some of the best time management ever. It didn’t happen that way so now it’s bad time management.

  27. As for criticizing the coaches, let’s ALL OF US HERE remember that we are kibitzers and it’s part of the fun. “He shoulda . . . .” and “Why didn’t they . . . .” are what sports fans do, it doesn’t make them disloyal, etc.

    This game was like chewing on a prime cut of steak, done just the way you like it, then not being allowed to swallow. I hope that taste stays in the players’ mouth all week (and all season) Diamont’s comment about “not playing to be close” are the right words, but, as t pointed out in post #26, the real proof will be the PSU game on Sat. Or as Coach Hep used to say, “It’s the most important game of the year this week.”

  28. Quite possibly the best all around game I’ve seen IU play in a very long time…15 years or so! This team has come a million miles…a long way to go but they’ve come very far. Given the same effort and intensity, I think we are bowl bound for sure. the injuries to Jordan and Nate are unfortunate and we all hope they heal soon. Really like Zander. If this kid’s ability can get anywhere close to his heart, he will be phenomenal.

  29. The Hoosiers looked very impressive. A shame that Sudfeld and Howard had to leave the game. If not for that and the way Zeke ran all over them in the second half, the Hoosiers would have won that game. Now comes the true test. I believe that the next game is one of CKW’s biggest. IU looks like they should win 7 or 8 games, but they have to prove that they can come back after a loss. I could see them only winning 5 or 6 games if they lose next week. Again, just my opinion…but we have seen it time and time again.

  30. iufan23 wrote, “If this kid’s ability can get anywhere close to his heart, he will be phenomenal.” I totally agree! And I loved the anger he displayed right after the game ended Saturday. The camera showed him screaming something (I’m no lip reader, but I’d bet it was a big f-bomb) that showed he has the fire-in-the-belly to match his heart. He wasn’t satisfied to make it close. I love that fire!

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