Hoosiers overpowered in 45-17 loss to Badgers

Indiana’s last shot at a signature victory came and went on Saturday.

Now, the Hoosiers will try by the skin of their teeth to secure bowl eligibility across the season’s final three weeks.

IU was outplayed and overpowered against No. 4 Wisconsin in a 45-17 loss on a dreary, overcast afternoon at Memorial Stadium. The defeat, Indiana’s fourth in a row, eliminates the Hoosiers’ remaining margin for error in a season that has seen IU yet again unable to achieve consistent winning results.

Saturday played out like so many meetings between the Hoosiers (3-6, 0-6) and Badgers (9-0, 6-0), who controlled the line of scrimmage while proving to be the tougher, more physical team. After a strong first quarter, Indiana couldn’t sustain its play across the final 45 minutes as Wisconsin gashed its way to its 10th consecutive win over IU.

With three contests remaining in the regular season, Indiana will once again need to win out against Illinois, Rutgers and Purdue to salvage a postseason from this otherwise disappointing campaign.

The Hoosiers know what they need to do. The question now is, after a series of gut punches, can they do it?

“It’s been tough, obviously, but we just got to keep fighting,” IU safety Chase Dutra said. “As much as that’s cliche, we have to. We have three more games and we need all three of them.”

The Hoosiers got worked up front on both sides of the ball, unsurprising given Wisconsin’s makeup. The Badgers had their way offensively, picking up 237 of their 407 total yards on the ground. Freshman running back Jonathan Taylor, the Big Ten’s leading rusher, recorded 183 rushing yards, while fullback Alec Ingold scored twice on goal-line runs and caught another pass in the Wisconsin win.

On the other side, Indiana was no match in a game like this. The Hoosiers managed merely 40 rushing yards and a meager 1.9 yards per carry, again failing to get a push against a conference foe.

“They were kind of large, you know,” IU coach Tom Allen said. “So (they) lean on you for a while. It takes its toll and we’re not very deep right now.”

Indiana hardly threatened after the opening period. Of IU’s 266 total yards, 123 of those came during the first quarter.

Indiana received early support from its defense, turning a takeaway into a touchdown midway through the first quarter. After Wisconsin powered its way into the red zone on a series of runs, the Badgers went to the air at the IU 6-yard line. Pressured by Jacob Robinson as he threw, quarterback Alex Hornibrook was intercepted in the end zone on an acrobatic catch by Indiana linebacker Tegray Scales.

Indiana scored 11 plays later on a well-designed and well-executed sequence. Running back Devonte Williams motioned to his left, while the play moved to the right. Lagow then looked left and hit the wide-open Williams in the end zone for a 23-yard scoring throw. It marked the first time since the season opener that Wisconsin trailed by a touchdown.

But the Badgers pushed back after IU went ahead 10-0 on Griffin Oakes’ 26-yard field goal to start the second quarter. Wisconsin answered on the ensuing drive, converting a pair of third-down scenarios with chunk passing gains of 32 and 16 yards. The Hoosiers were committed to stopping the run and got bit on play-action at the IU 18, where Badgers fullback Ingold slipped through the IU defense for an easy touchdown reception, backpedaling into the end zone.

The early takeaway was a good sign for Indiana, but it was the only turnover the Hoosiers forced all day. Quarterback Richard Lagow was decent in his first start since Sept. 30, completing 20 of his 34 passes for 226 yards and two touchdowns. He also threw two second-half interceptions, while Morgan Ellison was charged with a fumble on a controversial first-half ruling that turned momentum decidedly in Wisconsin’s favor.

“We played a great football team today, but when you’re minus in the takeaway ratio you’re not going to win,” Allen said. “To me, that’s what it came down to. We didn’t run the football well enough. That’s for sure. We didn’t stop the run well enough, for sure. But for me, it was all about takeaways than anything, and that’s all I’ve got to say about that.”

The Ellison fumble drove Allen mad, in part by the way it was handled by the officiating crew.

Officials ruled Ellison down prior to a fumble at the IU 22, blowing the play dead before either team had recovered the ball. But upon review, the crew reversed the call, determining that Ellison lost control of the ball prior to hitting the turf and awarded the ball to Wisconsin.

Considering that there was no clean recovery after the initial whistle, it was a confusing series of events. The explanation Allen received only added to the mess.

“The big thing was a whistle was blown,” Allen said. “That became the issue, but apparently they said it wasn’t blown. So that’s all I was told. That’s all I know.”

Incensed, the Hoosiers’ sideline reacted to the call with fury, drawing a flag for unsportsmanlike conduct. The penalty allowed the Badgers to take over at the IU 11 and, two plays later, Hornibrook hit receiver Quintez Cephus with an eight-yard touchdown pass to put Wisconsin ahead 14-10 with 6:21 remaining in the half.

By that point, the Badgers were in the middle of a 45-7 scoring run to close the game.

Now, the Hoosiers need a boost entering the season’s final stretch.

“These next few weeks, I only want dogs by my side,” Dutra said. “If you’re not coming in every single day to get better and get better every single day that you’re here for the next few weeks, I don’t want you to even come into the facilities. I need some people who are gonna be coming out here and giving it all they got.”

8 comments

  1. I don’t want excuses or talk by Dutra. The O line is gawd awful and Debord is predictable. It’s a damn shame I took my family to this game! Fans deserve better!

    1. JPat just me on the outside looking in and speaking my my mind. I think Wilson kept lots of pressure on his staff to play many bodies and to embrace making changes. I don’t think Allen yet gotten to that phase in his head coaching experience that he pushes the staff for better than they think they are presently doing. Many would describe that management style as being a bit of a bastard.

    2. Dutra gave neither excuses nor just talk. He is a warrior! He and the other warriors can win the next 3 games, but it will not be easy! One at a time. IL is next. We need Ramsey at QB and Ellison at RB. No TO’s. I watched the Ellison fumble and the replays. I could not hear any whistle. But Ellison did fumble before he was down and WI did recover the ball after 2-3 IU players could not control the ball. Why did Coach Allen give WI a TD by going for it on 4th and 8 deep inside IU territory down 35-17? That was a bad call!

  2. OSU + Penn St. + Wisconsin vs. IU = 139-52

    Outscored in the three above games by a total of 87 points. We couldn’t “breakthrough” single-ply in the ‘Big Toilet Tissue’ conference.

  3. Many would describe that coaching style as arrogant, self-absorbed, selfish, bull-headed and not willing to delegate authority easily (Nick Saban, Bill Belichick, Bill Parcell, etc.)

  4. Allen’s sideline ire is just him realizing his “signature win”/”breakthrough” bravado was ill conceived and doomed to fail. Well, I suppose it’s not completely dead. Run the table and win a bowl game. That would definitely constitute a breakthrough. When in the last time we won four consecutive?

  5. IU fans are definitely analytical mathematicians. The beginning of season the possibility of X number of wins (7 to 10) – y number losses by week 3 or 4 equals the possibility 7X wins – the number of losses by week 8 or 9 equals 6X wins – 0 loses from week 9 thru 11= 5X wins + 0 win at Purdue = 5 wins and 7 loss season for 2017 with highlights of win vs. Virginia and projected back to back big ten wins vs. Rutgers and Illinois. That is reality of IU football if they play well enough to beat Illinois and Rutgers.

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