Just when there is a sliver of hope — some potential of success within reach — it’s all gone within an instant. That’s the epitome of Indiana football.
As Indiana’s 35-21 loss to Nebraska on Saturday developed, there was only one question I could ask myself: What in the world did I just watch?
For a good while, it did not look like a football game. Whatever you want to call it, Nebraska won, and Indiana did not.
There are several obvious concerns about Indiana that need to be addressed. The biggest is these problems have been apparent all season, yet nothing has changed.
The Hoosiers seem to have a lack of preparation and discipline. Indiana’s first play of the game was nearly a delay of game, which was bailed out by a timeout call. I understand road environments can be tough, but they should at least be able to snap the ball.
Also signaling a lack of discipline was Indiana’s 11 penalties for 92 total yards. While somehow less than Nebraska’s 12 for 111 yards, the Hoosiers can’t expect to overcome more obstacles in a game when they can hardly stand their ground.
In previewing the matchup with Nebraska, I highlighted some key areas Indiana needed to excel in to get a win. Let’s visit those topics and see how they performed. I’m sure the results will shock you.
Come to play early
As previously mentioned, the Hoosiers didn’t even snap the ball on their first play. They trailed 7-0 at the end of the first quarter and trailed 21-7 late into the second quarter. Not an ideal start to say the least.
Establish the run game
Nebraska entered the contest allowing 233.5 rushing yards per game, which is fifth-to-last in Division I. Indiana finished with a total of 67 rushing yards on 23 attempts, a measly 2.9 yards per attempt. If anything else needs to be said, Indiana’s lead rusher of the night, freshman Jaylin Lucas, did not touch the ball in the second half.
Prevent the deep ball
The Hoosiers allowed four passing plays of 20 or more yards, two of them resulting in touchdowns. One of those touchdowns was a 71-yard bomb, converted on a third-and-nine by Nebraska. It was a better performance than last week at Cincinnati, but that isn’t saying much.
Capitalize in the red zone
Indiana scored 100% of the time in the red zone — that’s good. What wasn’t so good was that it reached the red zone just twice.
Overall, losing to Nebraska is not a good sign for Indiana’s 2022 season. It might not be time to sound the alarm just yet, but boy is it close.
Perspectives can change so easily, and that rings true about Indiana football. A couple days ago, a win over Nebraska was expected and a bowl game was the primary goal.
Now, there’s a good chance the Hoosiers are underdogs in their final seven contests. Getting more than one win during the rest of the year could be considered a success.
There is still hope for Indiana to cling onto, but that would require some major changes on the field. Head coach Tom Allen’s biggest test is ahead of him in preventing a season collapse, and it may determine his favorability with the fan base.