COLUMBUS, Ohio – For a 34.5-point underdog, to pull off an upset and spoil a team’s championship hopes, near-perfect play is a necessity.
When it came down to it, IU wasn’t perfect.
No. 6 Ohio State escaped an upset scare Saturday in Columbus 42-27 as the Hoosiers didn’t have enough firepower to overcome 28-unanswered points in the second half.
Sophomore safety Antonio Allen admitted Ohio State might have overlooked IU. Senior receiver Shane Wynn said it was his team’s pride that kept the game close.
Whatever the reason, IU had its chance to win with fate in its own hands. Down by eight with 4:25 left, freshman quarterback Zander Diamont threw an interception on a play IU Coach Kevin Wilson admitted IU may have been a little too greedy.
Diamont’s interception was immediately followed by a 15-yard touchdown pass from Ohio State’s J.T. Barrett to Jalin Marshall. After an IU punt, Barrett once again found Marshall for a 54-yard score to put Ohio State up 42-20 with 2:49 left and effectively put an end to IU’s upset hopes.
“We kind of (had) them where we want them, four minutes to go in the ‘Shoe and it’s 28-20,” Wilson said. “(The media) were more shocked than we were. That’s a fact. We were trying to make a play and we came up short.”
Diamont’s interception unfolded with a hint of déjà vu to another game IU had against Ohio State in Wilson’s first year in Bloomington.
On Nov. 5, 2011, then-freshman quarterback Tre Roberson led IU on a potential game-winning drive late in the fourth quarter when he threw an interception with just 4:07 left that ultimately cost the Hoosiers a chance at an upset win.
Saturday, IU trailed by eight when Diamont was flushed to step up in the pocket. Diamont said he thought he had freshman receiver Simmie Cobbs open across the middle of the field.
He didn’t see Tyvis Powell playing zone across the field for an easy pick.
The interception was just one of final blows to IU’s upset hopes. Although sophomore guard Dan Feeney said he never felt IU was out of contention, he conceded that Ohio State ultimately played better with their title hopes on the line.
“When it came down to it, they just made more plays in clutch situations than we could,” Feeney said. “You’ve got to play these guys hard. Just a couple times you’ve got to make key blocks, key catches, key passes and we just didn’t do that at the right time.
“That’s kind of what cost us.”
A few players afterwards mentioned that IU had lost its momentum after being up 20-14 midway through the third quarter thanks to a 90-yard touchdown run by junior running back Tevin Coleman.
Coleman nearly single-handedly pushed the Buckeyes to the brink of upset with his 228-yard and three-touchdown performance off of 27 carries.
His 228 rushing yards gave him 1,906 yards on the season, breaking the previous school record of 1,805 set by Vaughn Dunbar in 1991.
But as the second half began to play out, Ohio State settled down. IU forced three turnovers in the first half—two on interceptions by Allen—but failed to turn Ohio State over in the second half.
Diamont has his late interception. Ohio State (10-1, 7-0) pinned IU (3-8, 0-7) at the 1-yard line and used that position to set up a 54-yard punt return for a touchdown and the momentum had turned.
“That was the difference in the game,” Wilson said of the turnover and return.
Barrett finished 25-of-35 passing for 302 yards and four touchdowns. But as he settled down and began to connect with Marshall, Ohio State pulled away toward clinching the Big Ten East Division.
“The first half felt really good, unfortunately the second half didn’t go our way from the start,” Diamont said. “I don’t think we had the momentum we needed.”
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