CRAWFORD | Post-snap read: Turnovers again sink Indiana in loss to No. 4 Wisconsin
Indiana was within a touchdown of Wisconsin late in the third quarter, but back-to-back interceptions by the Badgers helped them pull away.
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (WDRB) – Typical fall Saturday on the Indiana University campus. The foliage is beautiful. The weather is cool. The skies are gray. The bounces are unfortunate. The officiating is inhospitable. And, at some point, Wisconsin beats the Hoosiers.
The Badgers made it 10 straight over Indiana on Saturday in Memorial Stadium, using a couple of second-half interceptions to break open what was a seven-point game late in the third quarter, easing on to a 45-17 victory.
Some quick takeaways:
1). TOO MANY TAKEAWAYS. Stop me if you’ve heard this before. No, wait, don’t stop me. I need to finish this story. Wisconsin cashed in three Indiana turnovers for 21 points.
“It’s a simple game,” Indiana coach Tom Allen said. “You have to limit takeaways. You play them straight up and its even takeaways, it’s an even situation. . . . We didn’t run the football well enough, that’s for sure. We didn’t stop the run well enough. But to me, it all came down to takeaways.”
A Morgan Ellison fumble with just under seven minutes to play in the second quarter looked like just a routine recovery for Indiana. But on replay, the play was overturned and the ball was awarded to Wisconsin after a recovery.
The problem, IU coaches argued, was that a whistle blew on the play, and once the whistle blows, the play was dead. The recovery, they said, occurred after the whistle. It didn’t matter, apparently. Wisconsin was given the ball, Indiana’s sideline was given a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, and Wisconsin scored two plays later to take a 14-10 lead.
That erased a good start by the Hoosiers, who still found a way to fight back in the third quarter. After Wisconsin went up 24-10, Indiana drove 65 yards on six plays to pull back within a touchdown with 4:12 left in the quarter. The Hoosiers got a stop and got the ball back early in the fourth quarter, but quarterback Richard Lagow threw an interception over the middle while being pressured. Wisconsin scored, then got another score and interception directly following, and it was over.
Wisconsin gave the IU defense a few chances, fumbling three times, but the Hoosiers couldn’t come up with any of them.
2). DEFENSIVE DEPTH. It didn’t help that Indiana’s defense wound up spending 39:23 on the field, to just 20:37 for the Indiana offense. Wisconsin ran 74 plays to Indiana’s 55.
Asked if fatigue played a role for his defense, Allen said, “I’m sure it did. They were kind of large. They’re on you for a while, it takes its toll, and we’re not very deep right now. I thought we fought. But they lean on you, and lean on you, they’re big men.”
Wisconsin has been a devastating second-half team this season. The Badgers outscored Indiana 31-7 after halftime, and now have outscored opponents 174-48 in the second half, including 94-21 in the fourth quarter.
3). BACKS AGAINST THE WALL. Indiana falls to 3-6, which means it needs to win its remaining three games, at Illinois next week, against Rutgers in its home finale and at Purdue to close the regular season.
Allen acknowledged that losing four games in a row is tough. He also reminded reporters of the difficulty of Indiana’s schedule. Among those four games were three against ranked teams. Indiana is the only team in the nation to play three games against Top 5-ranked opponents this season.
The Hoosiers battled to an overtime loss against Michigan and fell 17-9 at Michigan State. They were competitive with Wisconsin for nearly three quarters before their own miscues settled the game.
Now, Allen will be challenged to rally his team for a strong finish.
“It’s just life,” Allen said. “Sometimes things are tough, and you have to finish strong for your work or your family. We’ll teach them about life. . . . But I think this team will be a team that is remembered as a team that played a very, very difficult schedule, and finished well.”
4). BY THE NUMBERS. Wisconsin was led by Jonathan Taylor who had 23 carries for 189 yards and a touchdown. The Badgers remained one of five unbeaten FBS teams in improving to 9-0. They won for the 10th straight game overall, and their 12th straight Big Ten game, the longest conference win streak in school history.
Lagow threw for 226 yards and two touchdowns. The Hoosiers were outrushed 237 yards to 40.
Indiana has not beaten Wisconsin since 2002.
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