From Breakthrough to Breakdown — Indiana Loses Much More Than Bowl Eligibility

Don’t let that final score fool you.  This was Indiana’s worst performance of the season.  By far.  And the repercussions could last a decade.  Or more.  The 95th ranked Purdue rushing offense steamrolled Indiana’s previously stout running defense.  This is the same Indiana defense that held Heisman hopeful Saquon Barkley to 56 yards.  Markell Jones went for more than 200 and Purdue collectively ran for 272.  Purdue’s running game is not that much better than Indiana’s run defense.  This was about game planning and heart.  Purdue had a better plan and they wanted it more.

Tom Allen and Jeff Brohm are first year coaches competing for essentially the same recruits.  How many impartial high school kids watching today are going to choose Indiana over Purdue?  This was a statement win by Brohm and the Purdue program.  They’ve essentially erased years of poor play in 1 season.  And candidly, they did it by breaking through.  Purdue’s win over Iowa last week was the break through that Tom Allen hoped his Hoosiers would accomplish.  Instead, Indiana couldn’t beat any of the big boys, and they couldn’t beat Maryland and Purdue either.  While losing to Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Penn State and Wisconsin is understandable, losing to Maryland and Purdue suggests that if anything, this program is going backwards.  And with Purdue headed in the right direction, Indiana could be facing another decade of breakdown rather than breaking through.

IU quarterback Richard Lagow’s inconsistency hurt this team again.  There is no doubt that he has a great arm and can make all the throws.  There’s also no doubt that he has always been too inconsistent.  And that was the case from start to finish in this one — from an ugly interception on the first drive that really set the tone for the whole game, to an inexcusable drive after IU recovered an onside kick.  On that drive, first he took a sack and then threw short of the sticks on 4th down, giving the ball back to the Boilers and putting the Bucket back in West Lafayette.

Indiana’s play calling was entirely too predictable.  How many times on 1st down or second and long did they run up the gut of a Purdue front seven that was superior to IU’s running attack?  How many fade routes were called in the red zone?  Where was Ian Thomas?  Where was Whop Philyor?  Either Indiana did a poor job of getting these guys into the game plan, or again, Purdue out-schemed IU and took them away.

But this was a game that Tom Allen’s defense needed to dominate.  Instead, the senior laden defense was itself dominated by a mediocre running game.  All of the Big Ten East big boys will be on the schedule again next year.  So will Purdue.  That senior laden defense will be gone.  So will Simmie Cobbs.  Sitting here today it is difficult to have even modest expectations, let alone a break through.