At this point it would be insane to expect different results.
For the third week in a row, Indiana’s inept, mistake-prone offense gave the Hoosiers no opportunity to salvage a win in their final home game of the season against Minnesota. Instead IU fell to Minnesota 35-14 at a sparsely populated Memorial Stadium in Bloomington on Senior Day.
IU has now been outscored 102-24 over the last three weeks, and the offense has gained 262 or less yards in each game. Over their now seven game losing streak they’ve been outscored 238 to 81. 35 of those 81 points came against Maryland, meaning they’ve only scored 7.7 points per game in the other six.
The game opened with great promise, as IU ended a 16-play, 67-yard Minnesota drive at the 8-yard line with a 4th down stop. And IU responded with a 14-play, 92-yard touchdown drive the other way for a 7-0 lead late in the first quarter.
“We did a good job executing our first drive, 92 yards is hard to do against a good defense, which they are,” head coach Tom Allen said after the game.
But the offense was grounded to halt after that, leading to a disastrous remainder of the half. The Hoosiers gained just four more yards the rest of the first half, while the Golden Gophers posted a 21-point second quarter. After consecutive touchdown drives of 68 and 66 yards, Minnesota’s final touchdown of the half was set up by an interception thrown by IU freshman quarterback Donaven McCulley. He was just 3-of-7 for 17 yards with two interceptions on the night, although he did add 68 yards on the ground.
“We weren’t able to sustain it,” Allen said of the offense after the first drive. “Obviously you have to be able to throw the football. … That obviously takes a lot of stress off the run game when you can do that. Not acceptable, not to our standard, and it’s been that way most of the season.”
Although he played well into the third quarter, McCulley only attempted seven passes as IU opted to almost exclusively call running plays, even on third and long. Allen seemed frustrated with the conservative play-calling.
“You can’t just cautiously call the game and play the game,” he said. “It puts tough pressure on your defense when you can’t score points, and eventually they just wear down.”
Between their first drive of the game and the last, IU ran 31 plays for 52 yards.
After Indiana had fallen behind 28-7 and McCulley threw his second interception, he was benched in favor of walk-on Grant Gremel, who found freshman wideout Malachi Holt-Bennett for a late fourth quarter Indiana score on their final drive of the night. That touchdown was Gremel and Holt-Bennett’s first of their careers, and IU’s first by a wide receiver since the Idaho game in week two.
Allen wouldn’t rule out the possibility of Gremel starting in the season finale in West Lafayette.
“Absolutely,” Allen said when asked if he was open to starting Gremel. “Whatever we have to do to beat Purdue. That’s it. That’s the bottom line. Everything is on the table.”
The Hoosiers fell to 2-9 on the season and 0-8 in Big Ten play. After opening the season ranked No. 17, IU is staring its first winless league campaign since 2011 in the face.
UP NEXT: IU will close the season next Saturday at Purdue. That games kicks off at 3:30 p.m. Eastern at Ross Ade Stadium.
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