IU gives Ohio State a game but still falls, 34-20

Which of the mixed emotions was dominant in the minds of the Indiana football players after this one? Was there disappointment about how close they came to knocking off Ohio State in the Horseshoe, only to fall to 1-9 or encouragement that they managed to keep it close after almost a month’s worth of blowouts?

The answer should be obvious.

“Both,” running back Stephen Houston said after the Hoosiers’ 34-20 loss to Ohio State in front of 105,195. “Everybody was saying that The Ohio State was just supposed to run away with it. We had nothing to lose. We had everything to gain. We just played to the best of our ability. We just grinded it out. It’s a disappointment because we were right there and we let it slip on our own behalf.”

The Hoosiers did in fact have a chance to tie the game in the fourth quarter and take control of the momentum. They trailed 27-20 when they got the ball at their own 28 with 5:49 to go in the game. Freshman quarterback Tre Roberson squeezed a 3rd and 10 deep slant pass in between three Ohio State defenders to sophomore wide receiver Kofi Hughes for an 18-yard gain, then broke out for a 10-yard rush to get IU into Ohio State territory at the OSU 44. However, on the next play, Roberson was trying to find Hughes and instead found Ohio State junior cornerback Travis Howard. Howard intercepted the pass and took it back 14 yards, then sophomore Carlos Hyde broke off a 47-yard run and then a 2-yard touchdown plunge to make it 34-20.

Hughes took responsibility for the interception, volunteering without being asked that he ran the wrong route.

“I just saw the opposite call,” Hughes said. “That was my fault. Everybody else did the right thing, but I ran the wrong route.”

Hughes had a spectacular day otherwise, catching eight passes for a career-high 147 yards and a touchdown. Roberson was sacked four times, but he threw for 174 yards and a score and rushed for a team-high 70 yards. Houston rushed for 56 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries.

The defense wasn’t as porous and out of whack as it had been in previous weeks. The Hoosiers sacked Ohio State freshman quarterback Braxton Miller six times and held him to just 55 yards passing while intercepting him once and forcing him to fumble. However, the Buckeyes still ran the ball well as usual, with three players breaking the century mark for rushing yards. Miller rushed for 105 yards and two touchdowns on 14 carries, including an 81-yard first quarter score and a 20-yard run on third and goal from the 20 that gave the Buckeyes a 27-20 lead.

Senior tailback Dan Herron rushed for 141 yards and a touchdown while sophomore Carlos Hyde rushed for 105 yards and a score.

And the Hoosiers left the Horseshoe disappointed, suffering their seventh straight loss and their 17th straight in this series. The Hoosiers haven’t beaten the Buckeyes since 1988 and they haven’t won in Columbus since 1987.

But after four straight losses of at 21 points or more in which the Hoosiers surrendered at least 41 points, this actually counts as progress.

“It’s a big positive,” Hughes said. “We’re not into moral victories, of course we lost. But at least we feel like we’re playing up to where our potential is, to where we should be.”

AUDIO: Kevin Wilson

AUDIO: Kofi Hughes

AUDIO: Tre Roberson

AUDIO: Chase Hoobler

AUDIO: Jeff Thomas

AUDIO: Stephen Houston


  1. No such thing as a good loss, but IU showed some fight and some character today. Down 27 to 20 and inside the OS ten yard line, IU was threatened OSU. Not bad, not bad at all.

    Let’s hope that Wilson can recruit some defensive players for next year.

  2. PODUNKER is absolutely right. IU hasn’t had a BIG 10 Defense since 1967 and the Rose Bowl (they held OJ Simpson and USC to 14 points) IU’s ‘limited success’ has always been due to offense. Wilson (and Tre) can get us somewhere with offense. If we have a serviceable defense (look at Northwestern today) IU can be in the “Bowl” picture from year-to-year.

  3. IU had a couple of highly ranked defensive teams with Mallory. Just saying. I don’t think he ever had a kickass offense. Just efficient, with some good backs, receivers and QB’s. Sound football, would be the term, I believe.

  4. Yeah, since we havn’t seen it for some time. But it shows that it can happen.
    IU did play well today, at least better. As Hughes said, more to their potential.

  5. Most of the young dudes are striving and thriving for this staff. I wonder how the Buckeyes would like to have a game of Frosh only. They are probably very satisfied that is not an option.

  6. I don’t know how to articulate this, but I have experienced it and I have witnessed it. At some point, individually and collectively, things just start to come together, to make sense, to fit together. Things that a person or group have struggled to learn and perform are suddenly understood and be done. Call it the evaporation of cognitive overload or whatever, but I think I witnessed that yesterday in Columbus.

    In addition, at some point, a young person just stops worrying about how things appear, what others think, what their record is, what the media is saying, etc, and they just say to themselves, “screw all that, let’s just go play all out and see what happens.” It appeared to me that that is what happened with IU’s defense yesterday.

    Bottom line is that yesterday I saw a group of young, undersized guts play with passion and heart and I saw thee months of coaching start to take affect. I saw IU football start to grow up yesterday. It was good and it was fun, in spite of the loss.

  7. Must agree with Podunker that with organizations of people, whether sports teams, businesses, or whatever, inexplicably “things start to come toghether.” Organizations of humans behave as does an organism or a weather system. Of course, its also true that organisms get sick and weather systems come apart- which is why some teams play well in Sept. and Oct. but skid off the road in Nov. Let’s hope you’re right that IU is coming together. I’m still not as sanguine as Podunker about the defense (three OSU backs each carried for +100 yds), but giving up 34 is a lot better than the last several outings and at least we can fall asleep muttering “program moving in right direction” to ourselves this week. BEAT M.S.U.!

  8. davis; I still think the IU defense is terrible, but not as terrible as they were a month ago. Unless they get a lot more bigger and faster people to play defense, they will continue to be the worst defense in the Big Ten.

    With football defenses, knowledge, hustle and experience only go so far. Eventually physics takes over and the bigger, faster more athletic players will defeat the smaller, slower, less athletic players. That is most obviously demonstrated in the running game.

    But all of that aside, IU had a chance to tie the game at OSU half way through the fourth quarter. In relative terms, that demonstrated significant progress to me.

  9. I agree IU played better………but where has everybody been the last 50 years….Except for a few seasons where IU was competitive……. IU always has a game or two where they play well against a very good team with a chance to win and a couple of times a decade they pull off an upset. This record broke many years ago.

  10. The challenge to change IU football has always been changing a culture of low expectations, installing high standards of performance, getting buy-in from the younger players and bringing in a new group of players who shared the same value and vision.

    It is exactly what has been going on and the signs of progress are unmistakeable. It takes time and a lot of hard work. It is underway and it will come. Coach Wilson has made a big difference in how players and fans see the process.

  11. ^ Tsao: great post! Yes, there are clear signs that Wilson is a real wizard. At the beginning of the season I was guilty because I was expecting 3-4 wins, and he kept appearing on the TV and on the billboards. Now I know what he meant: “Win Two” Day is coming. But it takes time. Definitely not this season, maybe not even next season, but we need to get ready for it, so it doesn’t catch us by surprise. Coach Wilson has made a big difference thus far (1-9) and it’s only the beginning. We have a bye (so: No Lose Today! that much is clear) and two more games. So the difference will be even bigger when he’s done with this season. So: I couldn’t agree more with you.

  12. Chet- have you never encountered sarcasm before? I certainly got the point. Tsao, I have to say that you are almost the mirror image of the commenters who opine that Wilson is a bust after less than one season. After less than one sesason you seem to be convinced that Wilson is “the man” to bust up the the problems obvious to anyone who’s followed IU football.

    I think Wilson was a good hire, but have my concerns. I’m not bothered by the turnover of players, etc. But the fact that we are ten games into the season and the defense is in deep disarray is troubling- DBs aren’t even close to being in position (including coming up to stop the run), and that’s a coaching problem; even second-rank talent guys should be somewhere in the general vicinity. The jury is still out, and I think will be (and should be) for several more years.

    It’s interesting to compare the KW hire to the Jerry Kill hire at Minn. Both are in their early fifties. Kill was a long time head coach at lower levels of college football, but was very successful in that capacity. Wilson had never been a head coach, but was working in successful major programs. Two different hiring philosphies, apparently. The Minn. football blogs I saw were mostly unhappy with the hire of a MAC coach. The IU blogs were mostly happy with Wilson. When do we play the Gophers?

  13. The team is a train wreck, no doubt about it. I had hoped for more this year but when I saw our guys just getting pushed around on the field I came to the conclusion that there is only so much that can be done with schemes. It’s possible that players are not being coached at the optimum level but I’m a fan who has done a little coaching at the high school level. Only an idiot would come on here and claim to have more expertise than a Kevin Wilson or Doug Mallory, et al, who have been mentored by some of the best in the business and coached at the highest levels with great success.
    As I’ve said before, every Joe Shmoe thinks they know more about coaching than the most experienced coaches but they’d never assume they know more about aeronautics than an engineer or vascular surgery than a surgeon. One of my favorite coaches once said every guy on Earth thinks they can coach football and grill steaks.

  14. Davis- I think I’ve been totally consistent in my overall objective (to have IU football become a serious, competitive program within the Big Ten-since you’re also from Chicago, sort of what Northwestern has accomplished but perhaps, I hope, a bit higher horizon); a consistent top 25 team that year to year looks to a good level bowl as a distinct and achievable possibility; a school that can recruit 15-20 strong level players on the strength of the football program and coaching they receive (the beauty of the campus, the atmosphere of Blooming and the education they will receive will then move IU a notch above the rest to a Big Ten top 1-4 y/i/y/o); a re-education of a fan base that desperately needs to understand the values and virtues \and come from a solid well run program, putting aside fantasy-land ‘wishes’ that somehow we wave a wand and Tinker Bell makes it happen; and, finally and most important, the pride that comes from those who play at Indiana and those of us who wear ‘Hoosier’ shirts with sincere and real pride.

    Davis, I wont settle for less.(I leraned that during the Knight years). And, what gives me the ‘belief’ is that every action, every statement I’ve seen from CKW is that it is not going to be an easy path. He understands where we are and where we need to go. He also seems to understand what it will take to get there (a lot) and has the qualities of leadership that I perceive are very much a part of his character and personality, a non-compromising values of achievement(go back to his conversations when he was selected, those about his family…etc, his long, patient, pay-your-dues, choosy, and well-earned record as an assistant).

    Here’s the difference. Many see my postings as unreasonably optimistic and defensive of KW. Totally wrong! I have believed all along that we were in a deep, deep s**t hole and we would have to dig an inch ‘wafer’ at a time.

    If we had won 2-3 Big Ten games, I would not have believed it. I have not been surprised (therefore can not be disappointed) in anything that happened this year; not even the loss to a couple of so-called ‘lower level’ opponents (does that ever exist?). Who could expect otherwise, especially knowing that 2/3 of our team had been barely-past-puberty high school seniors

    But, I tell you what I do see at the same time. They survived and got better because of it. I also see the coach and coaches who took them through it. A coach who has a clear, realistic vision of the problem (beginning with a yogurt culture), a demanding teacher, an excellent tactical planner, a leader who has steadily raised standards and expectations and, a hardened individual forged by winning who is both realistic and compromises only about non-critical issues (like his expected PR functions, etc).

    Most important, for the first time in a long, long time now I see 15 (more or less) freshmen who reflect the result of everything I’ve listed and have burnished it into their character; 10-12 red-shirt freshmen who fought to understand and incorporate this attitude while suffering but, mostly, fighting to survive through one hard season; 2-5 upper class men who stayed firm accepted and led the others into the changes, the new team knowing there would be very little in terms of ‘immediate’ reward for them.

    And, for us, some reality in a new vision of what is an Indiana University football player. I believe they reflect what Coach Wilson, the Ekelars, the Mallorys brought. It is obviously reflected in the kind of players who are now accepting the challenge that being a winner is as they prepare to join the next class. Just as, for some, it defined that, perhaps, becoming a Hoosier is now more of a challenge than they can face. That’s how it should be.

    We will see it happen…, perhaps not immediately (I expect a decent but no ‘great’- by my definition, next year) and a changed, long-lasting, self-renewing respected program in the next three. Now, Davis-I’ll ask you. What is not to like?

    Does being 1-10, 0-11 really have much meaning this year, in this context. Let’s just understand this is hard. This is demanding, it takes heart to live through and sacrifice to achieve…even if what we do is cheer. If anyone wastes their time (or mine) believe anything else but this, they have no understanding of what winning is about.

    So am I an optimist.? No…totally the opposite, I’m the complete realist when it comes to sports, competition and teaching our young the truth about man’s challenges.

    That should pretty much tell you why I was surprised and impressed that we -IU- took the jump and for once did it the right; and am convinced that we have the right man to lead the Hoosiers in Kevin Wilson.

    Enjoy your comments, they’re always thought out and reflect solid thinking (and a real love for IU). I particularly enjoyed the time you talked about going out on the street to play with your kid when a game went south on us,(made me miss mine) That’s great, that’s where we get a chance to teach our kids, the things that are valuable and best taught by their dads and will be a part of their character.

  15. Chet, (also Davis)- I did a lot of high school coaching in my days as well (as well as some at the Div. I college level). There are two issue most seem to ignore when they look at this season and forward to the next.
    1. The physical, maturity difference between an 18, 19-year-old kid and a 22-23 year old man with 3-4 years experience. This is especially true in the position where physical strength and developed muscle mass are the key elements of performance (as in lines, linebackers as opposed to the ‘skill’, ‘gifted’ positions-i.e. QB, RB, receivers where the skill trumps size, strength in relative terms.
    2. The impact of having been poorly coached (or not coached at all) in certain positions that depend on ‘reading’, ‘anticipating’, ‘making quick decisions’ etc as in the case of the DBs, the S’s. Can you imagine the consequences of being so poorly coached for 2-3 years (if you were a returning player) or coming in from high school without the technique teaching.

    First, you have to ‘unlearn’ you bad habits (that may be tougher than learning the new ones since they’ve become ‘instinctive’. Only then can you begin to correct and then, begin the process of ‘developing’ good habits. That’s a two year process, at least. Now, review the season.

    Someone once said ‘practice makes perfect’. Nothing could be more wrong. Practice shooting free throws without the correct foot stance, shoulder squared, bend knees, forearm motion and ‘hand-wrist’ follow-through. Do it a thousands times with the wrong technique, and you’ll end up a ‘perfectly’ putrid free-throw shooter with a perfectly bad shooting motion.

    Practice does not make perfect. Practice only makes permanent. Only combining correct ‘teaching’ with repetition of correct motion ‘practice’ can perfect. Now, put that through the discussion last week about ‘cover’ techniques for DB’s and S’s, turning (or not) to see the ball, etc. Same of the decision making as to when to leave your receiver or play the run.

    IU was starting nearly 20 players with their entire three years of play left. Another 5-8 with 2 and about 20 freshmen selected to reflect Mallory’s view of football.

  16. I can never understand how Tim Tebow made it all the way to the NFL and no coach ever took the time to teach him the mechanics of throwing a football.

  17. Tsao- I’d like the same things as you for IU football (although I won’t call them “objectives,” ’cause I’m not doing anything to make it happen; maybe you are). I do think Wilson was a good hire, and I agree that 1-9 right now is not cause for alarm. The obvious house-cleaning is to be expected, too.

    My “coaching” is limited to seven and eight year olds, and not much of that, so I’ll not claim more knowledge than that. (I can, however, grill steaks!) But doesn’t it seem that at least some of the problems on defense might lie at the feet of the coaches? Your comment that the effects of being poorly coached might still be affecting play is a good one, but it’s also the job of the coaching staff to figure out what players can handle and adjust the system to that level- if the goal is “win today.” If the goal is to get a new system drilled into the players’ heads (or something else), then that is another story- which may have a happy ending in 2012 or later. The MSU game will tell a lot about whether the D is coming together.

    We are writing, not speaking face to face (I’m open for lunch at Ronnie’s at Clark & Lake at noon this Firday), on this blog, so some nuance is lost. But your literaty style in regards to Wilson, in my opinion, verges on hagiography. I’m optomistic about the guy, but not sold on him. Heck, maybe I’m more optomistic than you! You wrote that you would have been surprised at winning two or three games, but I thought .500 was a possibilty.

    Is it possible that a first-head coach could stumble a few times, or even many times? Please don’t say “no” if you want to retain any credibility here. That’s why I find the comparison to Kill at Minn. intriguing as a comparison in philosphies about hiring. Kill had an impressive, if not great, lower-level head coaching career before going to Minn. So maybe he won’t have some of the learning curve to climb. But Wilson has been around big-time programs (and NU counts as that in the overall scheme of college football, as does IU), so he may struggle up the learning curve- but he may have more recruiting contacts, etc. that come with that experience that will help pull him up that curve.

  18. You know, that’s the thing, people expect a finished product on day 1. I think KW was a really good hire (I don’t know why he took the job) but I never thought he’d be Nick Saban the day he hit campus. Hell, if he was a good as he was gonna get on the first day he must not be very bright. I think the upside to KW is huge but I hope he’s gonna get better at the job with each game.` The same goes for the team.

  19. Davis, Chet…I think we are all in the same general area. Yes, I agree that our defense calls for some action, or re-thinking…or whatever sort of triage is necessary. But, I fully expect that falls within the realm of issues KW will address, short term (as much as can be done with band-aids), and long term (re-thinking, moving resources around, restructuring, etc.). But, that is why I think we’re in good shape. I think KW is the guy to confront the issues squarely …at least that’s where I think we are in good shape.

    And, as Chet points out, he probably looks at himself pretty honestly and does what’s needed after each game.

    Knight came to IU with a reputation as a defensive coach. He soon realized he needed to become improve offensively. He called one of the best in his ‘gang of wise men’, former San Francisco U. and Olympic coach Pete Newell.

    Newell flew out and the two sat and watched film for about a week. Then, Knight tells the story that Newell had him put all his 4 X 6 cards with the offense on the floor. There were over 300. So they went through it card by card, and started throwing them out one at a time. They ended up with some 20-30 plus. That became his ‘motion offense’.

    I suspect KW will be just as thorough with his strengths and weaknesses, offensively and defensively, manpower-wise; staff-wise, vision-wise, strategically, tactically and in preparation.

    Davis, right now I have some mobility problems due to recent surgery. That’s why I suggested the restaurant/lounge “Seven” at the 400 E. Randolph (end of Randolph). Day and time (just pick them)are not an issue. Otherwise, I’ll need to wait a little while.

  20. As always, KW & IU’s success will be higly predicated on whether he can turn the current defensive morass into a legitimate unit that can at least offer up resistance. I’d say he gets a pass there for at least two years beyond this season. It’s a tall order when you consider the last time there was even a mediocre D in Btown.

  21. Chet- “people expect a finished product on day 1.” Are you referring to my spelling?

    Tsao- see you at noon at “Seven” at 400 E. Randolph on Friday 11/11/11. I have a 9:30 meeting in the far NW ‘burbs, but I should be done by 11:00 (there’s that number again). It’s also my eleventh anniversary with Mrs. Davis. I thought about a Nigel Tufnel themed anniversary party (“our marriage, it goes to eleven”)except she’s never seen Spinal Tap. We’ll probably just go to Gene and Georgetti’s.

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