Second-half analysis, IU at Northwestern

Here we go. IU is thirty minutes away from their seventh win of the season and a probable spot in a bowl game for the first time since 1993.

  • Northwestern’s kickoff goes out of bounds, and the Hoosiers take over at the 35.
  • On the first play from scrimmage, Kellen Lewis is nearly intercepted by Wildcat cornerback Sherrick McManis. James Hardy was the intended reciever.
  • A short screen to Payton goes nowhere, as the IU running back gains no yards.
  • An illegal substitution penalty against IU sends them back five yards. It’s not third and 15 from the 30 yard-line.
  • Lewis goes deep again, and this time it works out for IU. Ray Fisher grabs the deep ball and sprints ten more yards for the 70-yard touchdown pass.
  • The play is now under review by the officiating crew. They’re trying to determine whether or not Lewis threw the ball from beyond the line of scrimmage.
  • The play is overturned. Instead of kicking an extra point after a 70-yard touchdown, IU is forced to punt after the illegal forward pass penalty. The score remains 14-10.

A flag is down after Michael Hines’ punt. Will Patterson is charged with a facemask, advancing Northwestern’s starting spot 15 yard to the IU45.

  • On third and eight, Wildcat wideout Ross Lane makes a spectacular grab for a 27-yard first down.
  • A Bacher pass to Sutton is completed, and Greg Middleton’s offsides penalty results in a Wildcat first down. They’re now on the IU 3 and it’s first and goal.
  • Another offsides penalty. This time it’s Adam McClurg. The Wildcats now have the ball on the 1 1/2 yard line. In the meantime, Northwestern rushes to the line of scrimmage, forcing an unready Hoosier squad to burn a timeout.

Tyrell Sutton takes the next play into the endzone for the score. With the point after, the Wildcats now lead 17-14. IU will have to counter with a score and earn some momentum back. It seems like the Wildcats have it all right now.

  • James Bailey’s return sets up the Indiana drive at their own 29.
  • Lewis fumbles again, but recovers and is tackled on the play for a three-yard loss.
  • James Hardy’s spectacular catch down the sideline was ruled incomplete, but IU challenged the ruling. We’re waiting for the referee’s decision. It appeared to me like he had both feet in, but we’ll wait and see.

The ruling is reversed, and IU gets a first down on the 50 yard-line. One of the best catches Hardy has made this season.

  • After two running plays, Lewis’ pass to Fisher is bobbled and eventually incomplete.
  • A costly mistake by Tracy Porter gives the Wildcats an additional 15 yards. Their drive will start at the 26 yard-line.

Also of note, Northwestern has led 17-14 going into the fourth quarter (the current score) only to get blown out in the final periods by Purdue and Iowa in their last two games. Purdue outscored the Wildcats 21-0 and Iowa 14-0 in the fourth quarters of both games. It’s a good trend if you’re a Hoosier fan.

  • Kim Thompson hauls in a Bacher pass on second down for 11 yards and a first down. Tracy Porter forced him out of bounds.
  • Bacher again finds Thompson for the first down. He broke in the middle and found a seam in the IU defense.
  • What a play. Bacher hands it off to backup running back Brandon Roberson, Roberson rolls to his right and throws to Thompson in the endzone. Tracy Porter, on coverage, tips the ball before falling down but Thompson still hauls in the pass for the score. There is now an official timeout on the field for the referees to review the call.
  • Touchdown. A great catch by Thompson. The Wildcats now lead 24-14 with 3:08 remaining in the third quarter.

Big, big, big possession for the Hoosiers. Not do or die, but IU must get back into this contest as soon as possible if they want to get out of here with a win. They’re more than capable of doing that, it’ll just take good play calls and players to step up.

  • To plays and IU has three yards to show for it. Bryan Payton picked up those yards on first down, and Lewis’ second down incompletion sets up a crucial third and seven.
  • False start. A big, big blow to the drive. The penalty moves the ball back to the Indiana 48 yard-line and it’s now third and 12.
  • What a play by Kellen Lewis. He avoided what seems like 25 defenders, rolled to his weakside and launched a deep ball. 38 yards later, Hardy hauled it in for a first down. To steal words from Chris, Kellen Lewis is a good football player.
  • After a short grab, James Hardy makes a nice juke and dives for the endzone. He loses the ball, but it’s after his reach entered the plane of the endzone so it’s ruled a touchdown. NW doesn’t challenge; the lead is cut to 24-21.

Not to beat a dead drum, but Hardy has broken another major receiving record. His touchdown catch gives him 14 on the season, the most of any IU reciever in school history.

Big possession for Northwestern as they try and slow IU’s momentum after the touchdown. Entering the fourth, it’s the third week in a row the Wildcats have had a three point advantage heading into the final period.

  • A highlight-reel catch by Kim Thompson moves the chains for the Wildcats. The 26-yard catch gives the Wildcats the ball on the IU 30.
  • A missed tackle by Will Patterson gives the Wildcats a ten-yard gain and another first down.
  • Another first down. Bacher finds Roberson for a screen pass, and he’s able to gain seven yards and now the Wildcats sit first and goal at the seven yard-line.
  • After two runs, a big play is coming up. Northwestern has a third and goal on the IU three.
  • Just call him Tracy “Big Play” Porter. The senior cornerback just intercepted Bacher’s fade to the corner of the endzone, preventing the Wildcats from extending on their lead. Possible game-changing implications? We’ll have to see what the IU offense does with this crucial possession.

IU now has a chance to drive down and take the lead. They start at their own 20.

  • The Wildcat defense finally gets to the elusive Lewis. Loss of eight, IU now faces a tough third and fourteen.
  • Not this time. Lewis scrambles again, and this time they couldn’t keep him from getting a first down. He goes 15 yards.
  • On the next play, Lewis finds Ray Fisher near the sideline, and the IU wideout takes it ten yards before a facemasking penalty forces him out. 15 more yards, and IU is now all of a sudden at the Northwestern 32.
  • A good move by Payton after a short catch moves the chains again for IU. They now face a first and ten on the NW 18 yard-line.
  • Andrew Means (where’s he been all afternoon?) comes in for a 13 yard grab to give IU a first and goal from the 8.
  • Bryan Payton gets three yards, and IU now faces a third and goal from the five. Big play.
  • That was too easy. James Hardy somehow got wide open in the endzone, and it didn’t take long for Lewis to find him. Touchdown. Hardy’s catch gives IU a 28-24 lead with only 5:34 remaining.

Now it’s up to the IU defense. They’ve got a four point advantage with 5:34 to go. This may be the biggest defensive series of the year for this team.

  • Close, but IU wasn’t able to force a three and out. On third and five, Bacher finds his receiver for a 13-yard gain and earns Northwestern a new set of downs.
  • Tyrell Sutton continues to find seams in the IU defense. His 10-yard run again gives the Wildcats a first down.
  • Bacher scrambles to his right and finds Ross Lane for another first down.
  • Again, Bacher scrambles out of the pocket. This time, he keeps it.
  • He’s ruled short, setting up a huge third and one from the IU 12.
  • Bacher keeps it for the QB sneak and gets two yards for the first. First and ten from the 11 now.

1:30 to go, second down and seven. This is the biggest defensive series of the game for IU, maybe the season. Since the Wildcats need a touchdown, we’ll see if the Hoosier D can keep them out of the endzone. Don’t be surprised if Tracy Porter ends up with the ball in his hands.

  • On third down, Bacher finds Lane for the touchdown. NW now leads 31-28.

Now it’s up to Kellen Lewis, and maybe, Austin Starr. The Hoosiers have 44 seconds to move the ball down the field to get into Starr’s range.

  • The Hoosiers start from their own 35.
  • Good start. Andrew Means hauls in a 17-yard pass and goes out of bounds immediately. IU now on the 48.
  • Ray Fisher’s catch near the sideline moves the Hoosiers to the NW 34 yard line. IU calls a timeout with 22 seconds remaining.

What a great college football game. Both teams making plays all afternoon.

  • Lewis is sacked, and fumbles a questionable pass and Northwestern recovers. The play is now being reviewed to determine whether or not it was an incomplete pass or a fumble.
  • The play stands, it was a fumble. Questionable call.

Final is 31-28, Northwestern wins. No doubt a tough loss for IU. Lewis’ fumble cost them any opportunity at giving Austin Starr a chance to tie the game.


  1. I like the deep pass on the first play of the quarter. Don’t hold back.

    But Lewis needs to get that thing down the field, and Hardy needs to get up higher than that DB.

  2. Oh boy. What an awful sequence for the Hoosiers. Two offsides calls and then lousy substitution leads to a time out that, I’m just guessing, would have come in handy later in the game.

    It’s tough enough to win football games when you’re struggling to execute during plays. But between whistles?

  3. Another painful penalty. Obviously Porter didn’t see the fair catch signal. But he, as much as anyone, should know to watch carefully for it.

  4. Happy senior day, Kim Thompson. Four catches, including that one off the Tracy Porter tip.

    Gutsy play call, Pat Fitzgerald. Or whoever is calling plays on the Northwestern side.

  5. Mike P.,

    Though I am not one to rip into TV guys — I think it’s a tough job — I do have to say these guys are decidedly mediocre.

  6. Still not sure what the deal is with Thigpen or McCray.

    They’re showing Thigpen on the screen and he’s on the sidelines, looking like he’s ready to go.

  7. I don’t know if there is one. Credit the offensive line for staying with the play, there was a key block to protect Lewis from the back side right before he made that long throw.

  8. What’s the call on 3rd and goal?

    A fade to Thompson, and the pass isn’t far enough. Tracy Porter makes the 16th interception of his career.

    Porter, by the way, is No. 5 on Kiper’s list of best senior cornerbacks.

  9. Michigan is making its comeback. It trails Wisconsin 23-14 but just got the ball with 12:12 left in the game.

    Indiana fans should probably be rooting for the Wolverines. If they can come back and win this game and then somehow beat Ohio State, there’s a good chance the Big Ten will send two teams to BCS bowls. That would move the rest of the conference teams up the bowl ladder.

  10. Big 3rd down for Indiana this time.

    And Northwestern doesn’t even bother covering James Hardy.

    Check out the look of disgust on Pat Fitzgerald’s face.

  11. So looks like the corner slipped, but he wouldn’t have had much of a play on that ball anyway. Hardy’s 6-7. When he turns inside, not many guys are going to get around him. Especially on a play that happens that quickly.

  12. Chance for a huge stop here on 3rd and 5.

    And Bacher steps up, fires high to Sutton, who’s got the savvy to go up and get it over Gino Johnson.

  13. Northwestern works its way toward the red zone, which hasn’t been the problem.

    Getting the ball into the end zone has been. What’s the strategy here?

  14. Big Greg Brown is hurting. Indiana certainly needs him as the Wildcats will probably try to work up the middle at least once this series.

  15. So the Hoosiers take over at their own 35. They need to get into field goal range and they have two time outs.

    Which way is the wind blowing, Zak?

  16. I cant wait for this season to end. I hate to be negative, but it’s the same ol’ deal with these Hoosiers. Struggling to be mediocre. Whoever let Ben Chappel throw the ball needs slapped in the face. I’m glad hoops season is here because I’m sick of talking about this team, they’ve gotta be one of the worst 6-5 (soon to be 6) teams ever.

    I’ve always been frustrated by those who say our football team would be MAC Champs, but they’re right. We have MAC talent (except Hardy), MAC Coaches, we beat MAC teams and were barely, sorta kinda in contention for MAC bowls. The most successful season in years and we’ve won 2 Big Ten games and didnt even play the 2 best teams. Woo Hoo Hoo. It’s amazing some people are such narcissists that they question why the fan following isnt better. Who wants to put themselves through this? To varying degrees, it’s basically been the same story on re-run since 1994.

    But don’t worry, Kellen is only a sophomore, he’ll eventually pass Antwaan for the “Best Player on a Team to Never Make a Bowl” and the “I Should Have Gone to Another School” awards.

  17. Jim,

    Why don’t you go eff yourself? You are either a fan or your not, and you are obviously not. We don’t need you.

  18. Yes, you do. This program needs every fan it can get, disgruntled or not. I’m sure Rick Greenspan will take my money whether I vent my frustrations or not.

  19. While I don’t care for the negative attitude Jim purged, I have to agree – who let Ben throw that ball!? Obviously it was not the only flaw in today’s game, but there are coaching decisions that get made that, well, make you go hmmm..
    I’m looking forward to a win at home now, and the chance to bring home the bucket.

  20. This coaching staff is inept. Absolutely inept. Who is running this mess? The decision for Chappell’s throw, defenses that play way way too soft, allowing the Wildcats to run the clock away, run and shoot yourself-in-the-foot offense set, and on and on… It is so sad that these kids seem to play so hard for such a flawed system. Listening to these coaches in the postgame show, I am going to be sick!!

  21. Thanks Megan. It was only one play, but it was a huge turning point. And it seemed rather obvious to run it on 3rd and 6 with an inexperienced QB.

    Well, I apologize for my negativity or for being rude…just venting and there’s no one home right now to yell about it with except my dogs (who got scared).

    But, I do pretty much stand behind those comments. It just seems to be the same saga over and over. I hate to be reactionary, but we are almost at the end of the season and can make some assessments. Basically, we have one superstar-type player and can beat MAC schools. 2 Big Ten wins being the most successful season in years just shows what a joke this operation really is. I guess throwing in a moral victory like Penn State makes it better, right?

    And, sadly, I don’t know that such a record and a Motor City Bowl win (if we can get that) is really a huge building block. I mean I’d be happy with that at this point, but I don’t know that it’s something that will translate into much for the future. I see us being worse next year without Hardy.

  22. I try to be positive in my assessment of what happens with this team. Today I can not. I hate to blame the guys who play so hard for this team, and I won’t, these are young men who play their heart out for horrible coaches.

    I am a big supporter of Ben, however, he should have NEVER thrown a pass, it was obvious by the defensive line up they were expecting us to NOT take the safe play, and we got burnt on it. The defensive coordinator is inept in that position. I need to cool off some, and I will have a long post on my blog tomorrow about this game, the coaching, and what came be done for the future of the program once this year is over.

  23. I have been less than impressed with the overall production of this coaching staff. We have talent that is capable of MUCH more than beating MAC teams. Jim, if you haven’t, go check out our blog- Mike P. and I have talked about a number of these issues over the last couple of months. Click either of our names for a direct link. Ben’s INT was a major momentum changer. We do play to soft defensively, although I was pleased with what I saw today, only because we are geared towards defending a strong air offense, which is what NW plays.
    I will say that, no matter what, yes, even a Motor City Bowl and win over a MAC conference team will have a positive impact on this squad. These are young kids who have, as a team, taken a huge blow in the loss of Coach Hep. They need to play 13 for him for their own group strength. This is a young team, and any bowl appearance should also help recruiting, so we can build a better future.
    I’ll see you next weekend at the Rock, or all week at our Hoosier Football blog!

  24. The lunatic decision to have Chappell throw on third and long is reason enough not to bring Lynch back for another year.

    Inexcusable! Bad coaching at its finest.

    Without that touchdown, IU wins, goes to a bowl, helps recruiting and makes hundreds of thousands of extra dollars.

    West Coast Hoosier

  25. Chappell’s throw?

    14-3 score, in your own end, one quarterback with his bell rung, another with very limited experience, and another backup who 2 years ago as the starter set the team record for touchdown passes in a season…this coaching staff’s decision????

    Put in the untested player, call the risky play, what the !@#$!@# are they thinking?? if at all?

    Then after the game they are satisfied in the interview that we managed a narrow lead at the end of the game, but the D couldnt get a stop playing the world’s softest zone defense!! If you need a stop to win the game get up on the receivers and make plays!! Even if you get burned long there, at least there is time for the offense to use! Oh no, we can’t try that, we might win…….I can only imagine what this team would be capable of with just a little inspirational leadership at the helm…right now that appears very lacking. Am I wrong? Does somebody else see it differently?

    See you at the Rock Saturday,
    Come on Hoosiers!!!!

  26. Thanks Mike, I will.

    Congratulations also to Coach Z and the Illini for standing up to the bully and smacking him in the mouth in his own building!! I know that’s not good for Hoosier Bowl aspirations, but at the rate we’re going we sadly may not have to worry about it.

  27. I absolutely dislike OSU. Florida whacking them last year was almost as cool as the SuperBowl. Whoever’s playing them is always my second favorite team! They certainly didn’t like how the other team celebrates a win in their house! How rich from that bunch and the way they act every time they come to Memorial Stadium and every other BigTen stadium too I’m sure…..

  28. Finally, I’m not the only one to see how bad Bill Lynch is. I had to hear everyone defending him in the pre-season, “give him a chance, he has Indiana roots” blah blah blah!!! The dude sucks! He couldn’t cut it in the MAC and he sure as hell can’t cut it in the big ten.. If IU wants to win football games they better pony up the dough and pay someone… Not another washed up Gerry Dinardo either!! C’mon Greenspan!!

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