It was a cold splash of water to the face Saturday afternoon at Memorial Stadium.
What should have been. Penn State was awful and it was a game that Indiana should have added to its collection of wins that would make it bowl eligible in 2014.
The Indiana defense played at a high level, certainly strong enough to win 95 percent of its games with a capable quarterback like Nate Sudfeld behind center.
The Hoosiers surrendered just 336 yards, had five sacks, 11 tackles for loss, scored IU’s only touchdown and limited Penn State to 13 points.
And IU still lost 13-7.
How does that happen?
It happens because when players like Tre Roberson and Cameron Coffman opted to leave the program via the transfer route because they didn’t want to play behind a steady QB like Sudfeld, IU got extremely thin at the QB position.
It always seems to work out with a guy like Peyton Manning or Andrew Luck that you can have one really strong quarterback and the backup will wear his baseball cap on the sideline and rarely have to warm up.
That was what Indiana football coach Kevin Wilson had to have envisioned with the group of QB’s this season that would play behind Sudfeld.
But with one season-ending injury to Sudfeld against Iowa, all of IU’s hopes and dreams for 2014 went out the window.
And that tells you a lot about where the program is, too, when losing one player can have that dramatic of an effect on a football program.
But it absolutely did.
Go back to training camp and you had three backup QB’s that you figured would be there if needed. But even then, you thought if they got to where they needed them you might be in trouble. Nate Boudreau was young and inexperienced. Zander Diamont was a true freshman and it was hard to expect much there. Danny Cameron arrived late in the game and you had to figure he would benefit from a year of watching and hopefully get to the point where he could help you at some point in his career.
But no one realistically expected any of these guys to be key figures for Indiana football this season.
And I’m not even mentioning Chris Covington, who back in camp was expected to play on the defensive side of the ball this season.
So those are four names that if Indiana’s football season went as planned you weren’t expected to hear much about this season.
Fast forward to the second week of November and you’ve heard more about all of them than anyone could have hoped.
The minute that Sudfeld was driven into the ground on that October day in Iowa City and lost for the season, the IU football program took a major hit as well.
And Indiana fans are left again to wonder what could have been.
What should have been.Game Analysis
Offense dreadful in 13-7 loss