As Indiana got out to a quick 14-0 lead against Rutgers‚ showing shades of Ohio State in the process, optimism was high in what had the chance to be a season-altering win. Instead, the Hoosiers suffered their most embarrassing collapse yet.
Indiana dominated early and was playing the best it had all season at the outset of the game. Freshman running back Jaylin Lucas took the opening kickoff 93 yards for a touchdown, and after the defense forced a punt, the offense drove 91 yards for a score.
In what felt like a must-win game, the promising start was Indiana’s best all season. However, all production stopped there.
The Hoosiers quickly lost momentum as if they were stuck in quicksand. The meltdown slowly unfolded as routine like the previous four losses.
Everything that led to Indiana’s early success was abandoned. The offensive line broke down, the play calling became abysmal, the team’s decision-making was poor, and the defense got picked apart.
Yet, the Hoosiers entered halftime on top for the second consecutive week, leading 14-7. On Oct. 15 against Maryland, Indiana was able to get some offensive production in the second half after struggling to do so in Big Ten play up to that point.
Like things have been with Indiana, all progress backtracked and it hit a standstill. The Hoosiers put up negative two yards in the third quarter, and with five minutes remaining in the game, they had just 15 total yards in the second half.
Before today, Rutgers hadn’t won a conference home game in 1,813 days — nearly five years ago. If it wasn’t already apparent, Indiana has returned as the Big Ten’s bottom dweller.
At some point, Indiana has to make a change to, at the very minimum, show it’s trying to get better. Whether it's a quarterback swap, different form of play calling, mass substitutions or any other drastic measures, accountability needs to be placed somewhere.
Saturday’s loss resulted in five straight for Indiana, and as bleak as it sounds, there is no hope around this team. There are so many questions but no clear answers about how to turn the season around.
Luckily, the Hoosiers get a much-needed bye week to try to settle back in and turn things around. Unluckily, they then play top-16 ranked opponents back to back.
If you’re an Indiana fan, you’re probably used to this by now. It hurts more, because the highs of the 2020 season make the current low feel laughable.
Junior quarterback Connor Bazelak’s throw turned pick-six as he was about to get sacked for a safety with five minutes remaining is all you need to know about the current state of Indiana football — desperation turned into despair.
But hey, next weekend there’s no game to watch. Take some time to relax and cherish the four hours of your Saturday you’ll earn back. By now, everyone needs a break.