Indiana can’t finish a football game. In the end, it comes down to that. It always comes down to that. When the Hoosiers absolutely have to make a play, even when they’re perfectly positioned to make a play, they can’t do it.
It’s the legacy that won’t quit. Coach Bill Lynch spent the last 11 months driving the thought of finishing games and look what it got him:
Another losing season and a bunch of angry fans ready for a coaching change.
Take Indiana’s upset shot against Penn State. The score was tied at 24-24 deep into the second half. The Hoosiers had the ball and the chance to take the lead. All they needed was someone, anyone, to make a play.
Instead, an offense that had been clicking so well fizzled. A poor snap led to a blocked punt that the Nittany Lions scooped up for a touchdown.
Quarterback Ben Chappell threw an interception and Penn State capitalized with a field goal. The offense did nothing again and the Nittany Lions drove for the clinching touchdown in a 41-24 victory.
Once again, when it mattered most, all three phases (offense, defense, special teams) failed.
The Hoosiers are now officially out of bowl contention and will have yet another losing record. The bigger issue involves Lynch. Will athletic director Fred Glass honor the final year of Lynch’s contract (as he has said he would do) or fire him (as a growing number of fans would prefer that)?
Under Lynch IU has lost 12 straight Big Ten games. He is 5-26 in conference games, 18-30 overall. The Hoosiers’ four victories this season come against some of the worst teams in America.
Indiana (4-7) ends its season at Purdue (4-7) in the Oaken Bucket Game that might decide whether or not Lynch gets to coach the final year of his contract. A victory would give Glass something to work with. A loss would make it the first time IU hasn’t won at least one Big Ten game since 1995.
Purdue, by the way, nearly upset Michigan State in East Lansing. If it’s good enough to do that with an injury ravaged offense and the Big Ten’s best defensive player (defensive end Ryan Kerrigan), what will it do against a rival its owned for the last decade plus?
Don’t answer that. The Hoosiers will do their own answering on Saturday.