The tail lights of departing cars shined red against the rainy pavement as Memorial Stadium began to empty during halftime and the third quarter.
Indiana football’s once-full student section was reduced to swaths of empty bleachers as scarlet and gray Ohio State jerseys filled in the seats closest to the field.
Chants of “O-H-I-O” pelted Indiana’s bench in the second half. Its defense had allowed 539 yards, and its offense had gained only 128.
In a 54-7 drubbing Saturday night in Bloomington, Indiana was outplayed by Ohio State on both sides of the ball.
“It was ugly,” head coach Tom Allen said in a postgame press conference. “That’s the best way to describe it.”
Ohio State’s offense received the ball first and took its time with a 17-play, 75-yard drive which ended in a rushing touchdown from freshman running back Miyan Williams. Indiana’s defense previously had not allowed a touchdown on an opening drive since its Sept. 4 game against Iowa.
Needing an answer, Indiana’s offense put together a 75-yard drive ending with a touchdown pass to senior tight end Peyton Hendershot and a simultaneous injury to junior quarterback Jack Tuttle.
The next five drives of the half yielded negative yardage for Indiana’s offense, which changed hands between freshman quarterback Donaven McCulley and sophomore Grant Gremel. Indiana tried re-inserting Tuttle into the game during the second quarter before a sack on a fumbled snap ended his night.
Allen said the team opted for Gremel due to his experience with the offense and the coaching staff’s concern with McCulley’s readiness to play.
“There were some times where we felt like Donaven was a little bit rattled, just wanted to see him progress through that,” Allen said.
Late in the second quarter, Ohio State senior defensive tackle Jerron Cage drove one Indiana offensive lineman into the ground before brushing aside another. Cage sacked McCulley before his eyes could glance downfield.
One drive later, Ohio State freshman quarterback C.J. Stroud stood in a clean pocket. His offensive line kept Indiana football’s defense at bay as he delivered a strike to an open senior tight end Jeremy Ruckert in the endzone to increase the Buckeyes’ lead to 44.
Allen said the team’s defense placed too much emphasis on limiting explosive passing plays from Ohio State in the first half, which opened opportunities for the Buckeyes’ running game.
“I was most disappointed in our tackling,” Allen said. “That was really what I didn’t expect at all.”
As the clock struck zero in the fourth quarter, the Hoosiers filed into their locker room under the lights of the empty limestone bowl speckled with scarlet.
Indiana’s next matchup will come against Maryland at noon next Saturday, Oct. 30, at Capital One Field at Maryland Stadium in College Park, Maryland.