Iowa's march to the nation's top-5 has been a result of finding countless ways to win.
Indiana's recent descent to the lower tier of the league standings has been a by-product of an ability to find ways to lose.
So it should come as no surprise with what happened after Indiana headed into the fourth-quarter leading No. 4 Iowa 24-14 at Kinnick Stadium.
Iowa quarterback Ricky Stanzi bounced back from a five-interception afternoon to throw a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns and freshman Brandon Wegher added a pair of late touchdown runs, helping Iowa outscore Indiana 28-0 in the fourth quarter on its way to a 42-24 win.
Iowa improved to 9-0 overall and 5-0 in the Big Ten with the win, while Indiana lost for the fifth time in its last six games and now stands at 4-5 overall and 1-4 in the Big Ten.
It was just the most recent heartbreaking loss for the Hoosiers, who have led at halftime in four of their five Big Ten games. But some questionable officiating calls, a bizarre interception return for a score, and the fourth-quarter collapse prevented Lynch's team from picking up its first win over a top-5 team in 42 years.
Despite the set-back, Lynch was pleased with how his team responded from last week's crushing loss at Northwestern and gave itself a chance to win against the Big Ten frontrunners.
"I'm proud of our football team. They came in here and battled," Lynch said. "We got into the fourth quarter again and couldn't finish it off."
As was the case a week ago at Northwestern, Indiana dominated early on. Darius Willis scored on a four-yard run on the game's opening drive, and Indiana extended the lead to 14-0 on a16-yard Ben Chappell-to-Mitchell Evans score with five minutes remaining in the second quarter.
Iowa responded with a touchdown march of its own to cut the lead to seven, but Indiana regained control in the closing seconds of the quarter. Iowa's Amari Spievey fumbled a Charlie Klinensmith punt inside the Iowa 15 with less than a minute remaining. Jammie Kirlew recovered, and Chappell hooked up with Damarlo Belcher on a nine-yard score to give IU a 21-7 lead at halftime.
While Stanzi was busy throwing four of his five interceptions in the third quarter, Indiana appeared poised to push the lead to 21 after Donnell Jones returned one of those picks to the Iowa four-yard line midway through the quarter. But faced with a 3rd and goal from the Iowa 2, Chappell fired a pass off the hand of Christian Ballard, and the ball proceeded to bounce off Ballard, into IU offensive tackle James Brewer, then off Chappell's hand and into the awaiting arms of Tyler Sash who raced 86 yards for a score to cut Indiana's lead to 21-14.
"I've never seen anything like that," said Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz of the play.
It appeared, though, that Indiana would answer. A 45-yard pass play from Chappell to Belcher moved to the ball to the Iowa 15 on IU's ensuing possession, and on third down Chappell connected with Terrance Turner for what was ruled a touchdown. But in a highly-questionable ruling, the replay booth overturned the score, and Nick Freeland missed on a 28-yard field goal to keep the lead at seven.
Lynch was visibly irate on a handful of calls throughout the game, but the overrule on Turner's touchdown had him biting his lip afterward.
"Somebody thought it was a touchdown," Lynch said afterwards, referring to the referee who made the original call.
Indiana would eventually add a 38-yard field goal from Freeland late in the quarter to push the lead to 10, but from there the wheels came off in the fourth quarter. After Chris Hagerup pinned Iowa inside its own 10 with 13:16 remaining, Stanzi found Marvin McNutt wide open on a crossing route and he raced 92 yards for a score. After IU went three-and-out, Iowa hit Indiana with another big play, this time on a 66-yard Stanzi-to-DerrellJohnson-Koulianos touchdown pass that gave Iowa its first lead with 11:38 remaining.
That was the beginning of the end for Indiana, as Chappell threw interceptions on two of IU's final three drives and Wegher scored on runs of 6 and 27 yards to give Iowa its latest come-from-behind victory.
While Indiana did force Iowa into a season-high six turnovers, it was Iowa's big plays that Indiana's undoing according to Lynch.
"When they have a 98-yard touchdown from the defense and a 92-yard from the offense, that's hard to overcome," Lynch said.
It's also difficult to overcome the team's struggles in the second halves of games, particularly in the last two weeks. Indiana has been outscored 61-3 in final 30 minutes by Iowa and Northwestern, resulting in a pair of losses in games that IU led by 14 and 25, respectively.
"(Indiana's problems) have really been the fourth quarter," Lynch said. "But I'm proud of our guys. We've gone into three tough Big Ten stadiums against very good football teams and had the lead in the fourth quarter. We have to find a way to finish it off."
IU Good Early, Terrible Late in Loss at Iowa
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