For yet another season, it’s the Big Ten East Wall 4, Indiana 0.
Yes they led at halftime against No. 4 Michigan on the road on their senior day. Yes they scrapped and clawed the entire game against the national playoff contender. Yes they gave an inspiring effort that showed that this team is still fighting under the direction of head coach Tom Allen.
Unfortunately, none of that matters. The Hoosiers lost the game in Ann Arbor 31-20 and dropped to 5-6 on the season.
Indiana lost all four games to the titans of their division in 2018, and once again, their bowl eligibility will come down to whether or not they can beat their arch rival Purdue in the Old Oaken Bucket game next Saturday.
With the Boilermakers falling in triple overtime to Wisconsin in an IU-esque performance today, Purdue will also enter next Saturday’s tussle in Bloomington at 5-6. It marks the second year in a row that both teams enter the game needing a win to extend their season. Purdue won last year’s contest 31-24 in West Lafayette and ended IU’s season.
In that game last November at Purdue, IU came out flat and fell behind early. In a contest that was similar to this year’s performance at Minnesota, IU woke up late and made it interesting at the end. But it was too little, too late.
If Indiana is going to change the narrative in Bloomington and improve on last year’s 5-7 season, the Hoosiers are going to have to come out with a high energy, passionate effort from the outset and sustain it for 60 minutes.
While Purdue lost at home against Wisconsin, they put to bed any thoughts that they are distracted by their head coach Jeff Brohm potentially leaving to coach Louisville.
The Boilers are still competing and they are going to bring their high powered offense and improved defense to IU looking to retain the Bucket. Purdue won it back last year after losing the previous four games against Indiana.
Recruiting battles will be won or lost next Saturday. The direction of programs will be impacted. And of course, someone’s season will come to an abrupt end.
Indiana will be seeking its fifth win in the last six against Purdue, and its third bowl game in the last four seasons. Accomplishing these two things while improving on last year’s 5-7 season would be a meaningful step forward despite a much more youthful roster.
The stakes couldn’t be higher. It’s time to finish.
It’s Bucket or Bust 2.0 next Saturday at noon at Memorial Stadium.
With 30 carries for 139 yards, IU running back Stevie Scott tied Anthony Thompson’s IU true freshman record with five 100-yard games and broke Mike Harkrader’s true freshman season rushing record with 1,035 yards.
FINAL BOX SCORE FROM MICHIGAN
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