The odd thing is, Indiana's designated chair in the basement was kept warm by the '09 Hoosiers. But there's more to the story - this four win team was a couple minutes away from a .500 record...or better. And YOUR tradition-laden, recruit-gathering school almost fell victim to this hard-working, high-spirited Indiana team. Tell us how it felt, TRE writers. Were you embarrassed? Were you ashamed? Do close losses mean Indiana football is on the rise?
YOUR TEAM ALMOST LOST TO INDIANA IN '09 - WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU?
For the University of Michigan Wolverines, the Indiana game was an inauspicious and ominous beginning to the Wolverine's Big Ten season. Still riding the high from the last-second, Forcier-led comeback against the mighty (well... at the time, right?) Notre Dame Fighting Irish, Wolverine fans quickly learned that the demons of 2008 could not be expunged so easily. Though our offense displayed the ability to score, the defense looked completely and repeatedly inept against a resilient and quick-scoring opponent. The game was a real back and forth nailbiter until a last-second Martavious Odoms touchdown pass from Tate Forcier allowed the Wolverines to scrape by Indiana. We would not be so lucky with the rest of our Big Ten schedule, making Indiana the sole Big Ten win for the Wolverines in 2009 (1-7, friends. That hurts).
Though putting up big numbers against Michigan's defense last season was by no means a rarity, the Hoosiers, especially with their quick pistol offense, are on the rise. The Hoosiers put up 467 total yards of offense against the Wolverines, which is more than Penn State, Michigan State, Iowa, or Ohio State hung on Michigan last season.
By Paterno Ave
November 14, 2009-
The Hangover Game. Another overplayed sports cliche but one that refuses die because, well, it's a fact of life in college football. Penn State fans may have thought "Senior Day" would be enough motivation to avoid a flat start a week after the crushing loss to Ohio State. No deal. Put together some turnovers (3 in the 1st quarter alone) with some questionable calls and you get a 10-0 Indiana lead, the most Penn State had given up in a first quarter all season.
Fortunately the PSU defense overcame the 4 first half turnovers and managed to put up 7 of their own with a Navarro Bowman pick-six. The second half saw Penn State string together 24 unanswered points to remain the Big Ten's only team to never lose to the Hoosiers.
So Graham asked a few of us to weigh in on how our teams nearly got beat by the doormat that is the Indiana Hoosiers football team. To be honest, at the time he asked, I couldn't really recall the game. Oh sure, I remembered something about the comeback, but I think I had intentionally repressed the memories of how horrible the vast majority of it was to protect my football psyche. Now if only I could do that with the Auburn loss...
Ah, er, anyway. How DID Northwestern nearly lose to the Hoosiers? Well, I had to revisit footage of the game and my own past recap to figure it out. The simple answer is, for the vast majority of this game, the Wildcats played like shit. Seriously. It's that simple. Some choice quotes from my recap notes that week:
"Ray Fisher punt return for 35 yards to Northwestern 28, rush for no gain, Ben Chappell complete pass to Troy Wagner for 13 yards, Northwestern 5 yard penalty, Mitchell Evans 3 yard rush, Tandon Doss 5 yard rush, Mitchell Evans 1 yard rush, Ben Chappell rush for 1 yard for a touchdown.
Okay, can somebody, anybody, PLEASE MAKE A TACKLE? IS IT THAT HARD? REALLY? HOW MUCH TEQUILA DID YOU GUYS DRINK LAST NIGHT?"
"Indiana was up 28-3 and it was looking like it might be a good day to go do some laundry during the 2nd half. I held on, however, partly because of irrational hope and partly because I really did not want to start working on my Crim Law outline."
It should say something about the play of Northwestern that day that the only thing keeping me from walking away from my TV was procrastination. Yeesh. Kafka was an interception machine during that game, and until Scott Concannon miraculously appeared in the 4th quarter, the NU running game was pretty much shit too. Northwestern's play improved dramatically in the 2nd half, and they got lucky a few times, but the biggest factor in their 29-28 comeback win was Bill Lynch. Lynch made several bizarre playcalls in the second half, and somehow also managed to use all of his timeouts before the 4th quarter was even half over. This would prove to be crucial as Indiana was forced to attempt and fail a 59 yard field goal as their last play. Had they a timeout or two... who knows what would have happened. Bill Lynch earned a coaching "B" from us this year, but in this game he sure didn't look anything close to that...
This felt like the turning point of the Big Ten season. Iowa, surviving FIVE Dick Stanzi picks, was truly a team of destiny. How else do you explain the Tyler Sash Hot Potato touchdown? Or the consecutive broken coverages by a Hoosier secondary playing their best football all year? I think the Hawkeyes just shrugged their undefeated shoulders and chalked it up to a weird, hard fought game which they probably didn't deserve to win.
I usually follow a pretty strict "monster upset" regimen when I'm witnessing an underdog playing out of its mind. I start texting anyone I know might be vaguely interested, I set the DVR, and then I phone Law Buck to make sure he's watching it. I went through all these steps during this game as Stanzi imploded and the Hoosiers used their big wide receivers beautifully to take a two touchdown lead. But it was not to be and Indiana was left to ponder another blown opportunity to gain regional/national respect.