BLOOMINGTON – Indiana almost had that victory that would calm its increasingly critical fan base and give legitimacy to coach Kevin Wilson’s constant claims that success is just around the corner.
Andrew Maxwell passed for 290 yards and two touchdowns and Michigan State rallied from a 17-point deficit to defeat Indiana 31-27 on Saturday.
Give credit to their guys and their coaches, they got it done at halftime and played a good second half, Wilson said.
Aaron Burbridge caught eight passes for 134 yards and Le’Veon Bell ran for 121 yards and two touchdowns on 37 carries for the Spartans (4-2, 1-1 Big Ten), who were coming off a 17-16 loss to Ohio State.
Cameron Coffman passed for 282 yards and three touchdowns and Shane Wynn had 12 catches for 70 yards for the Hoosiers (2-3, 0-2), who led 27-17 at the end of the third quarter. Indiana could have given Wilson his first conference win in his second season in the Big Ten, but the Hoosiers went three-and-out on critical back-to-back possessions in the fourth quarter.
If we get going, get in a rhythm, then we’re really rolling, really moving fast, Coffman said. If we don’t get going those first couple of plays, then we’re not as good as we should be, and we just couldn’t get it going a couple of times, and that’s my fault.
Michigan State, which gave up 183 yards in the first quarter, held Indiana to 37 yards and two first downs in the second half.
Indiana had a 27-14 lead at halftime. Coffman completed 23 of 30 passes for 256 yards in the first half.
Trailing 27-17, Michigan State went for it on fourth down at the Indiana 2 and Bell got a yard for a first down on a play that was reviewed. Two plays later, Bell scored from the 1, cutting Indiana’s lead to 27-24 with 7:49 to play.
Coffman missed on three straight passes, and Michigan State got the ball back 20 seconds after the previous score. On the third play of the possession, Maxwell connected with Bennie Fowler for a 36-yard touchdown pass to give the Spartans a 31-27 lead.
Indiana was left to ponder how close it came to claiming a major win.
You saw how good we can be when we’re playing well, Coffman said. We’re not into moral victories. We fully expected to beat that team and we didn’t. That’s my fault on the offensive side.