Season Review: Indiana falls short of bowl berth

This looked like it would be the season Indiana finally ended a bowl drought that stretched to the 2007 season. There were eight home games, with the first five at home. And there was loads of veteran talent on offense and promising youngsters on defense for a program that was maturing in its third year under ultra-intense Kevin Wilson.

Yep, this was gonna be the Hoosiers’ season. Didn’t happen. Behind sophomore quarterbacks Nate Sudfeld and Tre Roberson, the offense did its part under coordinator Seth Littrell, ranking No. 2 in the Big Ten in scoring (38.4 ppg) and No. 2 overall (508.5 ypg). The passing attack was No. 1 (306.7 ypg).

But a horrible defense was the undoing of Indiana in its pursuit of just its second bowl since the 1993 season. So, let’s all say it together again: “Wait ‘til next year.” But, one bright note: The Hoosiers crushed Purdue, 56-36, to win the Old Oaken Bucket for the first time since 2010 and just the fourth in 17 years. So, IU has that going for it … which is nice.

[ MORE: Final B1G standings | Indiana's 2013 results | 2013 stats ]

Record: 5-7 overall; 3-5 Big Ten

Bowl: none

High point: Indiana had played Penn State 16 times since the Nittany Lions joined the Big Ten in 1993. And 16 times, Penn State beat the Hoosiers—often in lopsided fashion. But that streak finally ended on Oct. 5 with a 44-24 IU win in Bloomington. The Hoosiers were coming off a 45-28 drubbing by Missouri, which had 623 yards. But Indiana showed no hangover in notching 486 yards vs. Penn State, with 336 coming through the air. Indiana put the game away with 23 fourth-quarter points. IU allowed 410 yards, but only 70 came on the ground. However, the Hoosiers couldn’t build on the mojo, losing their next three games.

[ MORE: See all of Dienhart's 2013 Big Ten season reviews ]

Low point: If Indiana wanted to go to a bowl, it probably needed to beat visiting Minnesota on Nov. 2. But the Hoosiers stubbed their toe, losing 42-39. And, it was painful to watch. Indiana was driving for the tying field goal or winning touchdown late in the game, reaching the Golden Gophers’ nine-yard line in the final minute. That’s when Nate Sudfeld threw an ill-advised lateral on second-and-goal that Tevin Coleman juggled, then failed to attempt to fall on. Minnesota recovered with 25 seconds left. Game over. It was IU’s third loss in a row, as the Gophers notched 573 yards with 248 on the ground. The loss meant the Hoosiers needed to win three of their last four games to get bowl eligible; they went 2-2.

Offensive MVP: WR Cody Latimer. The junior caught 72 passes for 1,096 yards with nine touchdowns, averaging 15.2 yards per catch. He was the lynchpin of a strong corps of pass catchers that also included Kofi Hughes (47-739-7), Shane Wynn (46-633-11) and tight end Ted Bolser (35-320-6). Sophomore running back Tevin Coleman also was a revelation, rushing for 958 yards and 12 touchdowns in just nine games because of injury and averaging 7.3 yards per tote.

Defensive MVP: CB Tim Bennett. Is there really an MVP on a defense that ranked last in the Big Ten by allowing 527.9 yards per game and 38.8 points per game? Probably not, but let’s go with Bennett. The junior led the Big Ten in pass breakups with 21 and picked off a pass. Take a bow … I guess.

About Tom Dienhart BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart is a veteran sports journalist who covers Big Ten football and men’s basketball for BTN.com and BTN TV. Find him on Twitter and Facebook, read all of his work at btn.com/tomdienhart, and subscribe to his posts via RSS. Also, send questions to his weekly mailbag using the form below and read all of his previous answers in his reader mailbag section.

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