I’ve seen enough Indiana games to no that no lead is safe. But Saturday’s 29-28 loss to Northwestern still came as a shock.
“That was a tough loss for us,” IU coach Bill Lynch said. “… They made more plays than we did down the stretch.”
How did it happen?
The fourth-and-goal call from Northwestern’s 1 - in which Indiana lined up in a wildcat formation and came up empty - was a surprise. And not just because a field goal would have given the Hoosiers a 12-point lead late in the third quarter. IU preached using the pistol as a way to generate more “downhill” running. Instead, the Hoosiers lined up for a play that Mitchell Evans later admitted only had one real option. It didn’t work.
IU’s clock management also cost them. The Hoosiers used their final timeout with 7 minutes left. So Northwestern milked the clock as it drove down for the game-winning field goal, succeeding in giving IU as little time as possible to mount a last-second rally.
The Hoosiers also have to do a better job taking advantage of turnovers. IU forced three in the second half, and didn’t score any points.
A 28-3 lead, in a game the team had to have, wasn’t safe. Ouch.
“We are upset,” defensive end Jammie Kirlew said, “but we just have to work on finishing games. … We just have to come together, watch the film, put this behind us, and get ready for next week against Iowa.”