What else can you say at this point?
On Senior Day, Indiana (2-9, 0-8 B1G) was outmatched and overpowered in a 35-14 defeat to Minnesota (7-4, 5-3 B1G). IU has now lost seven straight, and five in a row at home. Indiana remains one of two Power Five teams without a win over another Power Five team (Vanderbilt).
As we’ve seen in the Michigan State, Ohio State, and Michigan games, the Hoosiers found some offensive success early in the contest. After star LB Micah McFadden keyed a stop on a Minnesota 4th-and-short, IU leaned on establishing the run against a Gopher defense that rates 16th in the country.
IU’s opening 92-yard drive ended with QB Donaven McCulley bobbling the snap, picking it up off the ground, and scampering into the end zone for an 11-yard run. McCulley took a helmet-to-helmet hit at the end of the run. The Big Ten claims to prioritize player safety, yet officials did not conduct a review of the play.
After the teams exchanged punts, Minnesota’s vaunted rushing offense kicked it into another gear, and they kept it that way for the remainder of the contest. The Gophers have averaged over 200 yards per game on the ground this season, despite injuries to star Mo Ibrahim and promising youngster Trey Potts. They flexed their muscle once again on Saturday.
Freshmen Ky Thomas and Mar’Keise Irving chipped away at the Indiana defense, and it was Thomas who powered the ball into the end zone to even the contest.
A horrid stretch of play from the home team concluded the first half, serving as a microcosm for IU’s 2021 season. In the final six minutes, Indiana went three-and-out, allowed another Thomas touchdown, threw an inexplicable interception, got hurdled by a guy, and gave up another Gopher score.
The touchdown catch by Chris Autman-Bell to end the half was the 10th career score for the senior. Just like that, Indiana not only trailed at the break, but that all-too-familiar discouraged and demoralized pall was cast over Memorial Stadium.
Indiana’s offense made few, if any, halftime adjustments after totaling just seven yards in the second quarter. After two IU punts, Autman-Bell once again found paydirt on a play where officials chose to review targeting that ultimately led to no McFadden ejection. Had targeting been called, McFadden would have missed the first half of the Purdue game.
After McCulley threw his second interception late in the third quarter, walk-on QB Grant Gremel threw all the fourth quarter passes for Indiana. Gremel and freshman Malachi Holt-Bennett offered a rare bright spot for Indiana on an otherwise dismal evening for the Hoosiers, as the two connected on a late 29-yard score. Gremel finished 5-of-12 for 60 yards passing and 27 yards rushing.
The Hoosiers will try to salvage something from this catastrophic season when they head to take on West Lafayette to take on Purdue (7-4, 5-3 B1G) next Saturday. It’s the 96th edition of the Bucket Game and the 123rd meeting ever between the teams.
Photo by Minnesota Athletics