For a half, it felt different.
Then reality hit, and it was entirely too predictable.
If you told anyone how Thursday’s game would’ve gone, no one would’ve blinked. IU played well for awhile, but the talent of Ohio State eventually overwhelmed the Hoosiers. At times, IU looked like it could win, and the breakthrough was finally on its way.
It was hopeful, before the wave of inevitability rolled over Memorial Stadium, dousing the remaining embers of false optimism. No. 2 Ohio State ended up beating IU 49-21 after the Buckeyes turned a slim third quarter deficit into a rout.
There was nothing surprising about this game at all. The dazzling Hoosier touchdowns through the air ended up being fool's gold. You didn’t want to buy in again, especially after the past years of ever-so-close losses against ranked foes.
You knew what the outcome was likely going to be, but part of you wanted to ignore that. Maybe it would be different. Maybe because there was a new coach in Tom Allen and a new group of leaders that somehow the Hoosiers wouldn’t falter with an opportunity to show the college football world that things have changed.
The more things change, the more they stay the same – at least for now.
“It’s always going to be tough to overcome the history that we had,” junior wide receiver Simmie Cobbs Jr. said. “We’ve been though a lot where we just got close. We don’t want to be close anymore. Whatever it takes to break through is our goal no matter how tough it is, no matter how much pain you have to go through.”
Nine times out of 10, Ohio State was going to beat IU.
The Buckeyes came into Thursday as the favorite to win the Big Ten Conference, and once they got rolling in the second half, they looked the part. Both of Ohio State’s lines pushed IU around nearly all game long as evidenced by the massive rushing disparity.
Ohio State had 292 rushing yards, while IU only managed 17 rushing yards. That’s never going to win a football game no matter how good the passing attack is. Ohio State was simply a better team than IU no matter how you look at it.
Even with the loss, Allen is excited about his program. With good reason. The fan support and the buzz around the game should mean something.
“The fans, the way they came out today, was special for us,” Allen said. “I really feel like that there’s something to build off of for sure. I’m disappointed that we didn’t finish better to give them something to go home with.”
ESPN’s “College GameDay” came to Bloomington for the first time. That matters even though IU wasn’t able to pull off the upset. People have started to notice the changes that this program has undergone in recent years.
Ohio State’s an impossible measuring stick for any team, but it would’ve been the perfect moment for IU to take that massive leap forward.
Until IU finally pulls off one of these games, doubt is always going to remain. It's only when the Hoosiers can finally break through that things will feel different.
For now, IU's all too predictable.
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