Michigan State closes out Indiana, 52-26

EAST LANSING, Mich. — This might be a good time to take a break.

It seems the last two weeks of heartbreak and frustration have drained Indiana emotionally and physically, leaving the Hoosiers without any clear solutions for changing the direction of their season after Saturday’s 52-26 loss at No. 7 Michigan State.

No, Indiana was not expected to win this weekend at Spartan Stadium, but it had multiple opportunities to break through and steal a win against one of college football’s top programs. But, yet again, a series of mistakes, miscues and general fatigue compounded and broke the Hoosiers, who trailed by only five points until the Spartans scored three touchdowns in the final five minutes to pull away.

Now, the Hoosiers enter the bye week left with little more than another set of moral victories.

“This one hurts,” IU receiver Mitchell Paige said. “We let it get away. The score was not indicative, but we need to start winning these games. I’m getting tired of losing those games, that’s for sure. It’s time to start winning those games. We gotta find a way to do it this week. We need to get ready for the next couple opponents, because we need to start winning games, that’s for sure.”

The Hoosiers (4-4) struggled in the kicking game, on third down and in their secondary, where Michigan State quarterback Connor Cook exploited IU’s young defensive backs for a career-high passing effort. Cook threw for a career-high 398 yards and four touchdowns, spreading the ball around to seven receivers in the Spartans’ eighth consecutive win of the season. He also helped the Spartans convert 13 of their 20 third-down attempts.

IU coach Kevin Wilson said his team’s struggles in the secondary and on third down were at least partially a product of fatigue. The Hoosiers’ young players, especially, have hit a wall, Wilson said, and the upcoming bye week could be coming at an ideal time.
“Our defensive back, Andre Brown, had a birthday Thursday, and he turned 18,” Wilson said. “And he already had seven Big Ten starts as a 17-year-old. I’m out there watching (safeties Jameel) Cook and (Jonathan) Crawford and Tyler Green — I think some of those freshmen guys have hit the wall with their ability to make some of those plays on the ball with their strength level and maturity. This week comes at a pretty good time, because we’ve got to get some guys fresh.”

There was no visible hangover Saturday stemming from last week’s homecoming collapse against Rutgers. The Hoosiers struck for the game’s first touchdown, received a boost from running back Jordan Howard’s return from an ankle injury and answered each of Michigan State’s strikes through the first three quarters with touchdowns of their own.

But the Spartans put the Hoosiers through a grinder by running 96 plays to IU’s 60, and controlling possession for 40 minutes.

“I just feel like we need to step up and make our plays,” said linebacker T.J. Simmons, who made 15 tackles and 2.5 sacks. “It don’t matter what wall (the young players) hit. It’s inexcusable. We gotta make the plays.”

Offensively, at least, Indiana mostly did that.

IU’s quick-strike attack gave the Hoosiers a chance, with Sudfeld completing 23 of his 37 passes for 308 yards and three touchdowns. Simmie Cobbs, Ricky Jones and Andre Booker each caught touchdown passes for IU, which trailed only 21-20 at halftime.

It would have been a tie game had IU kicker Griffin Oakes connected on an extra-point attempt after Jones’ 11-yard scoring reception brought the Hoosiers within 14-13 midway through the second quarter.

It was a terrible day for Oakes, who told Wilson he was struggling to gain traction on the wet field. Oakes, a normally-solid kicker, missed another point-after try in the third quarter after Booker’s first career touchdown cut Michigan State’s lead to 28-26 at the 9:45 mark. The Hoosiers wouldn’t get any closer than that two-point margin, and Oakes whiffed again on a 42-yard field goal attempt two drives later.

The long field goal would have given Indiana a one-point lead with 4:28 remaining in the third period. instead, Michigan State started running away.

“We’ve had the No. 1 team (Ohio State) and the No. 7 team in the fourth quarter, and played pretty good football,” Wilson said. “You’re seeing a lot of good football, but the defense finally wore down.”

Spartans kicker Michael Geiger connected on a 21-yard field goal early in the fourth period and the Spartans put the game away with three touchdowns in the final five minutes. While Indiana stuffed Michigan State’s running game for most of the day, Cook took advantage of holes over the top. Then the doors opened for a pair of 20-yard touchdown runs in the final couple minutes.

And by the end of the day, the Hoosiers were ready to get away.

“I think it is a good time (for a bye),” Sudfeld said. “It would have been a better time if we would have won today, though. We would have had some better vibes going in. We just need to link arms at this point and fight for each other and continue to keep battling.”

43 comments

  1. As a fan of college football who enjoys watching the game, while knowing only the basis of the game, I’m encouraged by this years team. Taking #1 Ohio State to the last play of the game. Rutgers, 3 touchdowns and a field goal lead near the end of the 3rd quarter and even today’s game. Within 4 points to #7 (or #8) Michigan State with 5 minutes to go. True, the implosions have been colossal, but for the most part the team has been competitive this year. Somebody on this forum felt that the offense scores so quickly the defense is tired by the 4th quarter. Sounds right.

    For me, being competitive and improving game to game and year to year is the expectation. (I’m sure I’m a lonely voice in the dark)

    Somebody said something about closing in the south side of the stadium? Why?

    Watching Utah/USC game. Anybody see that beauty of a punt return? Have a nephew playing on a Utah High School football team, undefeated in the last 2 seasons and state champs x 2. I can see why he wanted to attend Utah.

  2. Lack of depth coupled with a fast paced offense makes it impossible to play 4 quarters hard. High octane offense = worn down defense.

    Adjust CKW and save your job!!! It’s been a 5-year valiant effort, but it has not worked and is not working. Your offensive wishes, albeit successful, have never been compatible with the type of defensive players you bring to IU.

    That being said, hats off to our defense. Love their swagger. Though their frustration is often visible, there’s absolutely no question they always leave it ALL on the field!

  3. i feel bad for the players, because you can tell that they are playing their hearts out. Yes they need more help on defense to keep up with the offense. They are better.

  4. Ron, you are not alone. I agree with your assessment of IU. They are encouraging, but extremely frustrating to watch & cheer for. We play well on defensive line but abysmal on secondary defense. I don’t understand why we let receivers get behind us. It appears as though IU DBs are more concerned with run support than pass defense. I’d liketo see if IU can figure out secondary defense this off week. I’d also to see more of Mike Majette as a change of pace runner to Howard. I’m still behind this team & I can see IU moving in the right direction.

  5. Good effort, but good effort doesn’t get it done. Only IU could find a way to let MSU manage 52. In a way, not unlike how we gifted Rutgers a win once we’d broken 50 ourselves. It seems inexplicable. Until you realize we’re essentially as bad as we always have been (since early 90s anyway).

  6. Also, why abandon the run so early in 2nd half? I want to like Wilson. I really do. Yes we’re (marginally) better now five years in. But it seems we should be better enough to win a B1G game now and then.

  7. Stoyanovich, you are right on the money with your comment. I wish coach Wilson would take a look at whether the team, not the offense, benefits from the hurry up offense. His comments when asked about it this game were that the defense played so much because they couldn’t get off the field. He has commented in the past he loves shootout games but the point is to win games and that may need to change. I like the improvements this staff has made but I am not a fan of the hurry up when your defense is filled with young players. It was questionable when they had inferior defensive players.

    It is clear to me they don’t have a complete team yet, they are close but have too many holes. I hope they can take this off week and get better along with getting healthier heading into Iowa.

  8. As a high school coach I learned to adapt my offense, defense, and kicking game based on the players I had that year. I often wonder if college coaches ever think about adjusting what they do based on the ability of their current players or if they just stay the course figuring the players will learn as they go until they can make the system work. It is nice to stay the course when you can recruit top players but what happens when you miss out on a few players and have to play second tier players. I don’t know the answer I just know I want this team to win more games.

  9. Stoyonovich, I have been saying the same thing for a few years, but not as well as you articulated it in #4 above. CKW is either stubborn to a fault or tone deaf. His inflexibility and refusal to slow the game down may be costing him quality defensive recruits. And it is probably going to get him fired. He seems to be tactically brilliant but strategically oblivious.

  10. Chip Kelley of the Philip Eagles has been forced to slow down his up tempo offense as a way to help the defense. The Eagles defense was getting gassed early in their games and it showed in the first few games where they couldn’t stop anyone. Now that they have slowed the offense the defense has time to catch their breath and playing better. That is why I laugh when people on here say the defense shouldn’t get gassed because they are at higher level. The Eagles have shown that even on the pro level defenses getter gassed. You have seen that with Seattle in the 4th quarter lately. They didn’t have Lynch to run the clock down and sustain drives in the 4th quarter and their offense was 3 and out a lot and their defense, one of the best in the NFL, was getting gasses.

  11. Wilson is right, MSU 90 plays with 40 minutes of possession, IU 60 plays, the D many times could not get MSU off the field. Even in the 1st half.

  12. As loss after loss after loss piles up, where is Claritin? His hero is now 6-30 (SIX AND THIRTY!) in the B1G. Worse than lynch and getting worse with each game. A few of you on here spew the recruiting is better nonsense. 0-4 is 0-4 is 0-4! And two of the losses have been blowouts. But don’t worry. IU still has Maryland and Pu, albeit both on the road. The good news is Wilson is nails on the road. One of his half-dozen B1G wins in FIVE years was a roadie, back in 2012!

  13. Coach Wilson is right about the defense.He is the man in charge. The question is what is he going to do about it ? If he can solve the problem then he deserves to stay.

  14. I just can not be happy thinking all we want from IU football is to beat 4 nobodies and then win hopfully two Big Ten games and act like we are good. BOWL eligible. Doesn’t anyone one else want more. Wilson has had five years, I dont care if he wins the last two games which is a BIG IF and we become bowl eligible. That makes us 6/6 he should be fired.

  15. NO, Coach Kevin Wilson should not be fired!!! he should be given a contract extension, with a buyout clause…the length of this extension is up to the AD Fred Glass….why?? let the next two years determine Coach Kevin Wilson career as head coach of IU football team…..you will have a better judgement and development of the IU football team and…Yes, the five years under Coach Wilson have been hard to endure..but anyone and everyone (fans, media, etc) have to admit that the quality of players have improve and player development has improve…..they just have not improved the number of wins!!! An for all you individual with a crystal ball that can project the future by saying he has no QB to replace Sudfeld, no quality defense (just the second year under current 3-4 systems and under Brian Knorrs) and no WR developing……for all you future coaches out there, that think you can run this team any better and evaluate player talent any better than the current coaching staff, may i suggest you apply for the job in the future…..i for one will continue to support this team and the staff thru this mediocre (possible bowl) season…if we make the bowl game great, if not hopefully the development of this team is great enough to make next seasons better…..at present we only have ONE starting SR (Nick Mangieri) on defensive and on Offensive we have two starting SR (Nate Sudefeld and Jason Spriggs) and all three will be replaced with quality players…i believe this team has improved drastically over the last five years, maybe not in wins but in player development…if i am wrong the next two years will tell…..GO IU

  16. There were periods against MSU when I really thought that the Hoosiers actually looked like a competitive B1C team. They hit, blocked and performed as seriously able to play with and, perhaps beat Michigan State. Of course, it had to happen they just simply ran out of gas in the 4th Q and the dam burst. Still, and surprisingly,.. I was proud of the fight they put up and the potential they showed.

    There is only one way to claw our way out of the mess we have created since Coach Mallory was forced out. Stay with KW’s vision. Accept his strategic commitment to a style very different from the ‘three yards and a cloud of dust’ that has dominated the B1C; and hope he is as intelligent as we think he is and focuses on finding an equally creative a defensive solution. I sincerely trust he will do so and that CKW will return our faith in him with a solid, competitive football program. Double down!

  17. Tsao, you may be right. That is clearly an option. Sincerely, in your opinion, what is the criteria that should determine the length of Wilson’s tenure at IU? Is it just Wins and Losses, or should other factors be included in the evaluation of his performance? Is it as simple as, “IU’s football players look to be better athletes and Wilson is recruiting more three-star players out of High School?” Is it graduation rates? Is it attendance at home games and donations to IU’s Athletic Department? At what point does Glass make the decision to keep or termination Wilson? Should the availability and willingness of other more successful coaches enter into the decision? I do agree that if IU wins six games this season (still possible), IU should keep Wilson. If not, I’m not sure Wilson can survive what I anticipate would be a downturn in recruiting.

    IU79, sorry, but your last post was filled “straw-man” arguments.

    Hey, Al Golden is suddenly available. The University of Miami seems to have very little tolerance for a coach that allows their team to get blown out. The problem is, according to ESPN, Miami is “a cheap school” that does not pay a lot of money in coaching compensation. If that is true, chances are they are not likely to get the savior they desire.

  18. When you pay your players sometimes it’s hard to have enough to pay the coach as well. Miami (along with FSU) is to college football what Kentucky is to college basketball.

  19. Western Kentucky is not a nobody. They were 6-1 going into their matchup at LSU in the Swamp. They were within 10 midway through the 4th qtr. LSU blew it open late.

    Do some of you guys even watch college football?

  20. IU79, BRAVO!

    TTG, DITTO.

    Po, Talk about Strawmen! This will be the 3rd year in a row you’ve called for a downturn in recruiting because of the W/L. It ain’t happening, again. Because the staff are all good talent evaluators and equally good at developing talent. KW and staff always leave 6-10 spots open for those over achieving 3* HSers who end up w/o a spot on their dream team and want to play in the B1G version of the Power 5. What is not initiating by the W/L is getting commitments from 4-5* high flyers. But as long as this staff is intake recruiting will not diminish to DeNardo-Hep-Lynch days.
    You mention Golden, hiring him, a successful HC, has not worked out for the Canes. Just as it didn’t for Illinois(4 times)and PUke(6 maybe 7). To many variables, you can’t bet on theories.

  21. HC, your comment above is just dead wrong. You’re just making stuff up now. I’ve openly and consistently celebrated Wilson’s recruiting during the last three years. It has definitely improved. But if this is another losing season for Wilson, as in five consecutive losing seasons, he is at risk of being labeled a lame-duck head coach. And opposing coaches will use the doubt about his job security against him. And let’s keep in mind that even with Wilson improving recruiting, his recruiting classes are consistently been rated at or near the bottom of the Big Ten every year he has been at IU. Wilson needs to improve recruiting significantly, not just maintain the quality he’s signed in the last four two or three years. If IU is to improve performance within the Big Ten, maintaining the talent level he’s signed over the last two or three recruiting classes isn’t going to cut it. If Wilson is kept on after this season, and I hope he is, this next recruiting class will be the canary in the coal mine. Either Wilson should get an extension, or he should be cut loose. I hope the finish to this season gives Glass an excuse to offer Wilson a contract extension.

  22. Give KW 5 year extension now. Give a boost for recruiting .(with buyout clause) if he still has the energy and will accept. Stay on same ship. Often the reason things look silly from a coaching standpoint is because players are not good enough to execute plays. so things backfire. As far as recruiting KW has to recruit not only against PU and Louisville, but Mich, MSU, OSU and ND close by. IU does have QB in stable that will be ready in couple years and maybe next year from Georgia. He rated up there with Tommy Stevens (different style). Examples of difficulty is perceptive attitude of recruits and players : A few recruited 4 stars have left or gotten in trouble in few cases, QBs making move for more playing time and not at higher level situations, T. Stevens jumps to Penn State which was replaced with Georgia QB who I like better anyway, and Brownsburg Indiana QB goes to Tennessee who was playing at Avon Indiana behind Brandon Peters early in career….And Harbaugh plucks Brandon Peters out of water for MIch as soon as he gets here along with Ben Davis running back. KW and staff have monumental task larger than most realize and maybe even themselves realize. So if KW and staff still have the energy give a boost to recruiting and give 5 year extension NOW. Stay all on board this ship and look for the waters to recede and see land.

  23. Po, I do so enjoy the cute way you run and duck for cover for the things you say you don’t say. You’ve forecast for 3 years that a downturn” In recruiting will occur with that seasons W/L Then when the recruits commit you agree it is a class that passes your muster. It is part of your M.O. I can still see you!.

  24. I do think fans tend to overrate IU fb offense. To many times when the competition level increases except for a couple times they just do not do what is needed when it gets really tough to do so.

  25. PO- Very succinctly put. KW is indeed a tactical master and strategic basket case. As to the recent IUFB recruiting cf. the Big Ten according to Scout.com:

    2015; 13/14
    2014: 8/14
    2103: 9/12
    2012: 9/12 (Wisconsin was dead last that year!)

  26. Demo, the competition is much stronger now in the Big Ten than when Cameron coached. IU should return all but 4 starters off the team next year, only time will tell for sure. We have three transfers sitting this year out on the OL, WR, and DB plus whatever JC players the staff brings in. IU should see a lot of improvement from the DBs due to the experience they are getting this year. Our LBs are also a young group although they average about a year older than the DBs. With the improvement in the defensive front this year it indicates the defense will be much improved next year with the following year looking like it could be a very solid defense under coach Knorr.

    Our young receivers are much improved as Jones,Cobbs and Mitchell have been showing the past few games. Patrick has been getting the scout award each week so he will be a big addition to the WR next year. Westbrook, Booth, Harris, Griffith, and Thornton have all shown signs this year they may move up in the rotation next year.

    Next year IU will be a team that has a lot of young EXPERIENCED talent which should get better each year winning more games as they mature. I agree the best approach would be to extend Coach Wilson’s contract with a buyout provision; if the team’s winning record doesn’t improve over the next two years. For a variety of reason IU has gone through growing pains the past four years under Coach Wilson with this year being the first solid year IU has had since Hep was here. Yes, it would have been nice if IU didn’t have to suffer the growing pains under Coach Wilson but a program like IU was going to go through those pains with a new approach that Coach Wilson brought in. It would be premature to fire coach now that the team is competitive enough to go toe to toe with the best teams in the Big Ten despite having a very young team. Patience can be rewarded and by extending Coach Wilson’s contract [with a buy out] it will give us a chance to see if IU is rewarded for their patience.

    BOB we do want more from this program which is why we want to give Coach a qualified extension to finish his rebuilding program. We don’t need to be set back once again as a new coach and staff come in.

  27. Those who want a new coach are overlooking the fact that the new coach would have exactly the same recruiting problems every coach at IU in the last 6o or 70 years has faced. One of the three smallest stadiums in the big ten, a hundred year history of losing and mismanagement by various administrations, and an apathetic fan base that leaves in droves at halftime. Three state nationally rated QB’s have committed to out of state traditional football schools in the last two years and no new coach we would attract is going to change that problem. Many who feel a new coach can get these players would be the same ones shocked if we were going after a five star BB player with our great tradition and he selected Northwestern or Nebraska. I have been a fan through 11 coaches and only 4 (I think this is right) have had five years and only 3 coached more than five years. Coach Wilson needs more time and without a two year extension will be helpless in in attracting recruits that will make a difference. My disappointments have been over a longer period than most commenters here, and I have my frustrations at times with Coach Wilson decisions like any fan, but I am still committed to this program with this coach. This forum needs more like Vesuvius and others like him looking for good instead of doom.

  28. HC, either your memory fails you, or your loyalty to Wilson causes you to conflate and confuse other’s criticisms of his performance. The one thing I have consistently applauded and appreciated about Wilson over the last three years is that he has, relative to his predecessors, improved IU’s recruiting. With the exception of his inability to make significant progress in signing the best players from within the state, I have consistently pointed out that Wilson is signing more players that turned down offers from other Power-Conference Football programs. But hey, when you can’t win the debate, just post more bs, right!

    Mr. Walker, I appreciate your thoughtful comments in #33 above. You wrote, “……, and I have my frustrations at times with Coach Wilson decisions like any fan, but I am still committed to this program with this coach.” Glad to hear it, and I agree to a large extent. I support Wilson and hope he produces six wins this season. If he does, than I gladly support him receiving a new contract from IU. But in case he does not, please tell us, in your judgment, how much more time should Glass give Wilson to prove he can produce a winning season? Assuming IU finishes this season with only 4 or 5 wins, how many more seasons should Wilson get to prove he can lead a team to a winning record? I’m sincerely interested to read your response.

  29. I think about this time last year Chaz and I were about the only ones on here saying it was time for Wilson to go. Most of you because of injuries said he deserved another year. Well here we are, almost the same situation as last year and now you guys want to extend his contract for another two years? Getting rewarded for such a poor performance doesn’t make sense to me. If IU extends his contract, at least cut his salary.

  30. Who would want to come to IU??? The schedule goes to 9 big ten games coming up. Does a real successful non power 5 coach want to risk it all to come to the worse football school in the nation? Do we continue to see if KW can somehow learn to call plays that make sense on offense and somehow realize his best player is not a average O-lineman. Can he continue to build a defense and make them even poor instead of atrocious with a average at best D line coach that came from the second worse football school in the nation. What young head coach wants to come to IU. With Mich, MSU, Notre Dame, OSU, and even Cincy and Loiusville to compete against in recruiting. Better hope KW learns to lead and win. It’s a lousy choice but to me our best one as of today. Maybe tomorrow there will be a better choice who knows.

  31. I remember when Northwestern was a worse football team then IU. They recruited against all the above mentioned teams. Some how did they became a very good team. So I don’t buy that argument. How long did it take them to turn it around. It is time to demand more.

  32. HC, WTF are you talking about? Was your post #37 meant to imply that I’m writing comments under different screen names? If so, you’re completely wrong. I’ve never posted a comment on The Hoosier Scoop under any other name than Podunker. Never have and have no intensions of doing so in the future.

    Demo, a lot of coaches would want to coach IU. Unemployed coaches, coaches at mid-major conferences, coaches that want their income to exceed $1.5 million per year, coaches who see IU as a potential stepping stone to bigger/richer jobs. And finally, as is the case with Duke’s coach, a man that still has gas in the tank and wants his last job to polish his legacy as a success. It is flat out wrong and defeatist to suggest that IU can’t attract quality football coaches. We’ve done it before (Mallory/Hep) and we can do it again. It might take more money than IU is paying Wilson, but it would not be that difficult.

  33. I agree with those who want Glass to give Wilson an extension. It will enable him to recruit even more talented players, and add depth to the team. It’s been along haul for Wilson to resurrect this program. That would have been true for any coach. Slow as this development process has been, Wilson and the team are very close to raising the program to another level. Getting rid of him now would be a mistake. It would mean we’d have to wait another five years for another coach to make IU football respectable.

  34. IUFB should stick with Wilson (unless a truly remarkable hire becomes available and interested), but why extend the contract? Yeah, yeah, recruiting, blah blah but if KW doesn’t make some serious progress in these next two years he will be gone, extension or not and recruits know that (or will have it explained to them). The contract was made for seven years- just the right time frame.

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