It was a frustrating afternoon for an Indiana offense that scored at least 35 points in seven of its first nine games this season. The Hoosiers (4-7, 2-5) moved the ball, but simply couldn't punch it into the end zone.
Indiana's players had a hard time explaining the red zone issues after the game.
"I really don't know what it was," said senior wide receiver Kofi Hughes, who finished with a career-high nine catches for 120 yards. "Our defense did everything and more that we could have asked for in this game. I really don't know what was going on because we got in the score zone."
Added quarterback Nate Sudfeld: "We put up a lot of yards today, but weren't able to finish. I'm not sure why."
The Hoosiers finished with 442 total yards, only 29 fewer than Ohio State's 471. And yet Indiana found itself trailing the Buckeyes 42-0 in the fourth quarter before two late touchdowns.
"The stats looked a little close except for the scoreboard, and that's the only one that matters," said Indiana coach Kevin Wilson.
On one drive in the third quarter, the Hoosiers turned the ball over on downs at the Ohio State 2-yard line. The Buckeyes promptly marched 98 yards down the field for another touchdown.
Indiana went without a single touchdown for seven and a half quarters spanning from last week's game at Wisconsin until the third quarter Saturday against Ohio State. During the time, the Hoosiers were outscored 93-3.
"My whole thing is if you're ever on the 4-yard line, or the 2 or 1-yard line, and you can't run the ball in the end zone -- I feel that's all want to," Hughes said. "It's not scheme or anything like that. That's me vs. you, we're gonna run it down you're throat. And it didn't happen."
Hoosiers eliminated from bowl contention
A season that began with so much promise will end without a bowl game for Indiana. The Hoosiers started the season 3-2, needing only three wins in their final seven games to become bowl eligible. Indiana has gone 1-5 since then.
"I've never talked about being a bowl team," Wilson said. "Never said it to them. We talk about constant improvement and getting better every day. I've got a lot of guys that I've got a lot of respect for that have stuck through thick and thin with us."
It's a disappointing end for a senior class that has been through a heck of a lot. Guys like Hughes, kicker Mitch Ewald, tight end Ted Bolser and defensive back Greg Heban stuck with Wilson, even when that didn't seem like the easy or popular thing to do.
But those seniors failed to make a bowl game in their IU careers.
"This is definitely not the season I predicted or that our team hoped for," Hughes said. "But I love my teammates. I love all the guys around me and I know that we fight hard. I can only hope and pray that next season everything gets worked out and everything gets fixed."
Attention turns to Purdue
With a bowl game out of the question, Indiana now looks at next week's season finale against rival Purdue as its postseason. The Old Oaken Bucket currently sits in West Lafayette, and the Hoosiers are determined to get it back.
Purdue enters next week's game at Memorial Stadium winless in the Big Ten and with a 1-10 overall record.
"We're gonna have our best week in my three years this week," Wilson said.
Added Hughes: "That's the only thing on my mind from here on out."