Tom Dienhart, BTN.com Senior Writer, December 6, 2017
Indiana saw its two-year bowl run end during Tom Allen?s debut season in Bloomington. The Hoosiers almost pushed through to the postseason, needing to win their finale at Purdue to reach 6-6. Alas, Indiana lost to the Boilermakers, 31-24, after winning its two previous games.
Indiana was hampered by a tough Big Ten schedule that included Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State, Penn State and Wisconsin. A poor ground game also impacted the Hoosiers, who were No. 12 in the Big Ten in rushing (130.1 ypg) after several years of strong run games under Kevin Wilson. Add in a turnover margin of minus-seven that ranked last in the Big Ten, and you can see why Indiana is home for the holidays for the first time since 2014.
Still, Allen has much to build on, especially for an offense that will return most of its key personnel headed by promising redshirt freshman quarterback Peyton Ramsey and a fleet of good receivers paced by Simmie Cobbs and Luke Timian. The defense will need work after a mostly solid effort in 2017 that saw the Hoosiers pitch two shutouts behind linebackers Tegray Scales and Chris Covington and defensive backs Rashard Fant, Jonathan Crawford and Chase Dutra.
Record: 5-7 overall; 2-7 Big Ten/T6th East
High point: After opening with a 49-21 home loss to No. 2 Ohio State, Indiana won three of its next four to build a 3-2 mark. The highlight was a 34-17 win at Virginia-which is bowl-bound–in the second week of the season. Indiana also made a push in November to reach six wins. Sitting with a 3-6 mark with three games to go, the Hoosiers needed to win their last three games to qualify for a bowl. They won at Illinois and vs. Rutgers ? but then lost the finale at Purdue.
Low point: The wheels came off after a 27-0 win vs. FCS Charleston Southern-a make-up game that was hastily scheduled when a visit from Florida International was canceled after FIU couldn?t make the trip because of Hurricane Irma. After toppling Charleston Southern, the Hoosiers lost four in a row and five of their final seven games. The lone victories in that span were at Illinois and vs. Rutgers. A 42-30 loss at Maryland was killer, as IU outgained the Terrapins 483-345 and blew a 33-28 lead entering the fourth quarter. That loss more than any other may have been most devastating to IU?s bowl cause.
Offensive MVP: WR Simmie Cobbs. The 6-4, 212-pound junior was at times unstoppable. He was a consensus first-team All-Big Ten selection, finishing second in the Big Ten with 72 catches. And his 841 receiving yards are the third-most in the league. It was a heck of a bounce-back season for Cobbs, who missed almost all of 2016 with injury.
Defensive MVP: LB Tegray Scales. The 6-0, 230-pound senior could have turned pro after an All-American 2016 season that saw him top the Big Ten with 126 tackles and lead the nation with 23.5 TFLs, but he opted to return to Bloomington. And Scales was a star once again. He ranked among the Big Ten?s top 15 tacklers with 89 stops to go along with six sacks. Scales also had 12.5 TFLs for an IU defense that was sixth in the Big Ten (340.1 ypg).