Despite leading by 13 points at halftime against rival Michigan State, IU (2-3, 0-2) collapsed during the second half as the Spartans (4-2, 1-1) pulled out a 31-27 victory Saturday afternoon at Memorial Stadium.
“We played a half real hard today, but in the second half, we just got outplayed,” IU Coach Kevin Wilson said. “Credit Michigan State, Coach Dantonio and really credit their kids. It’s disappointing to play hard and with a lot of energy and still come up short.”
During the first half against Michigan State, the Hoosiers made the most of their time with the ball, leading the Spartans with more first downs, total yards and points on the scoreboard.
However, the second 30 minutes of Saturday’s game was a different story. The Hoosiers had two first downs all half, gained only 47 yards and were held scoreless.
Wilson said the performance was peculiar, and the MSU defense did not change it’s scheme.
“There were no magic changes from what I was watching,” Wilson said. “They played their base defense and they challenged the inside receivers a little bit more a couple of times, but we got sacked with their lead blitz.”
As IU struggled to find its offensive momentum in the second half of the game, the Spartans did not have any problem continuing their progress on the field.
Winning the battle of possession against the Hoosiers in the second half by a 21:54 to 8:06 margin, Michigan State found a way to score 17 points, enough to win the game.
“I just think we came out flat as a defense in the second half,” junior cornerback Greg Heban said. “The offense couldn’t get going, and if you are coming out flat against any Big Ten team, it’s going to hurt you.”
Many of IU’s second half struggles did not exist in the first half. Sophomore quarterback Cameron Coffman had thrown for 256 yards on 23 completions out of 30 attempts, passing for three touchdowns in the process.
In fact, the Hoosiers’ 27 first half points were more than the Spartans had allowed in any entire game this season as well as nine-times as many points as the Hoosiers scored against Michigan State last season.
As IU led by 13 at the halfway point, the team had it’s first halftime lead against a Big Ten opponent since 2009.
Adding to the feat, much of the Hoosiers’ offensive production during the half was without a rushing game, as the team was held to just 24 yards on the ground.
“As a team, you have to create energy,” Wilson said. “It’s all about making plays. The first half we made plays and we had energy. In the second half, we didn’t make plays and credit Michigan State.”
This was the second-straight game at Memorial Stadium in which the team had given up a second-half lead.
Against Ball State three weeks ago, the Hoosiers led in the final minute of the game before losing on a last-second field goal.
While the team appeared disheartened following the game against the Spartans, both players and Wilson said it is clear this team is turning a corner, having been competitive in every game this season.
“You saw how good we can be when we’re playing well, but we’re not into moral victories,” Coffman said. “We fully expected to beat that team, and we didn’t.”
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