It’s weird to see such an unsuccessful program like Indiana doing well, that’s what made the 2020 season so unusual. As the Hoosiers got out to a 3-0 start this season, an unfamiliar sense of relief was starting to come over Indiana fans.
That didn’t last very long. To put it lightly, the University of Cincinnati dominated Indiana all the way through the Hoosiers’ 45-24 loss, and, in doing so, cast away any positive thoughts Indiana fans were thinking of the program.
Through the Hoosiers’ first three wins, they’ve been able to get away with several mistakes and issues due to lesser competition. Facing a better football team in Cincinnati, repeating those same mistakes made a recipe for disaster.
Victory was out of reach for Indiana even before halftime. Yes, it was really that bad.
Two seasons ago, Indiana’s secondary was one of the best in the entire country. Against Cincinnati on Saturday, the secondary, consisting of many of those same 2020 players, got burnt like toast.
The poor secondary play was taken advantage of. Cincinnati senior quarterback Ben Bryant looked like prime Peyton Manning, throwing for 314 yards and four touchdowns in the first 30 minutes of play alone.
Three of those four touchdowns were caught by junior wide receiver Tyler Scott, who had seven receptions for 158 yards along with his touchdowns. If you saw someone running wide open down the length of the field, it was probably him.
Offensively, the same issues Hoosier fans have seen all season were present again. The run game took too long to make a true impact, the offensive line struggled to give Indiana junior quarterback Connor Bazelak time to throw and ill-timed turnovers led to Cincinnati points.
Bazelak’s arm may fall off before he can make it to Nebraska. Having already eclipsed 50 pass attempts in two of three games prior to this weekend, his 66 attempts set the Indiana single-game pass attempts record.
But there can always be a positive spin, right? For starters, Indiana’s defense tightened up by allowing just 71 total yards and a garbage-time touchdown in the second half, looking like a completely different team in doing so.
The Hoosiers offense was able to put some points on the board to outscore the Bearcats in the second half. Disregarding an interception on Indiana’s last offensive play, the Hoosiers moved the ball well and played mistake-free.
However, the negatives heavily outweigh the positives. Indiana once again looked unprepared in the first half, something it can’t afford in Big Ten play.
If this Indiana team is to avoid a last place finish in the Big Ten East, adjustments need to be made. If they aren’t, Indiana will finish its season in a familiar place: the bottom tier.