If a 63-point loss isn't a coach killer, we're not sure what is.
Indiana traveled to Wisconsin hoping to build on the momentum of the past two weeks when the Hoosiers were competitive vs. solid Northwestern and Iowa squads. Indiana hoped it could at least put up a fight against the Badgers to grab a boost of confidence for the stretch run, and if the Hoosiers pulled off an upset, all the better.
And for the first 15 minutes of the game, it looked like a possibility. Indiana and Wisconsin were tied 10-10 early in the second quarter when a series of unfortunate events, coupled with a complete collapse on defense, led to an 83-20 loss that has more than just muddied the future in Bloomington. It may have ended the Indiana coaching tenure of Bill Lynch.
For the past couple of years Indiana has seen its share of close calls. Last year Indiana battled and battled only to repeatedly come up short in Big Ten play. Heading into the Wisconsin game, three of Indiana's five conference losses were by a combined 15 points. The Hoosiers have been competitive, and Lynch had been hoping to turn his team around, get them over the hump to feel some success. Instead, the monster loss has Indiana fans screaming for Lynch's head, and there really isn't much he can point to when it comes to defending his team.
Indiana (4-6, 0-6) has lost 11 straight Big Ten games, the defense ranks among the league's worst in points allowed, pass defense, run defense and total defense, and its running game is among the worst in the country. Lynch is 5-23 all-time vs. Big Ten teams and he has posted just an 18-29 record at the school since taking over in 2007.
The school boasts a brilliant new football facility with the recent addition to the north end zone of Memorial Stadium, and Indiana's marketing team has worked overtime to help sell the program. Embarrassing losses, however, have taken the shine off any bells and whistles that might surround the program, and the results simply haven't changed on the field.
Lynch has a year left on his contract, which means Indiana director of athletics Fred Glass has a decision to make at the end of the year. He must either terminate Lynch or give him an extension, and the coach has done little to warrant more time at Indiana. Although Indiana's recruiting class for 2011 features some solid talent, the fan reaction to the past couple of weeks could force Glass' hand.
Indiana next faces Penn State, a team it has never beaten, with an eye on still becoming bowl eligible. If the Hoosiers can pull off the upset at a neutral-site game in Maryland, it will be a huge nod to Lynch's leadership skills. In the meantime, the distraction of Lynch's future will be the focus of the program, which doesn't bode well for the rest of the season.
Indiana's defense has allowed 30 points or more in 12 of its last 22 games, including allowing more than 40 points five times.
Indiana's 63-point loss was tied for the third-worst defeat in IU history. The Hoosiers lost to Purdue 68-0 in 1892 and followed up that game with a 64-0 loss to Purdue in 1893. Michigan also beat IU 63-0 in 1925.
The 83 points allowed by the Hoosiers were the most in a Big Ten game since 1950.
Wisconsin scored on all 12 of its possessions, including cracking the end zone 10 times. The Badgers also scored on an interception return.
GAME BALL GOES TO: RB Nick Turner -- Indiana's offense may have struggled, but Turner was a bright spot. The redshirt freshman rushed for 103 yards on 11 carries, and his 67-yard run in the first quarter was the longest for the Hoosiers this season.
KEEP AN EYE ON: K Mitch Ewald -- Ewald has steadily improved his consistency all year. Ewald has made 13 of 16 field goal attempts, but he is no longer sneaking his kicks inside the uprights. He is kicking with more confidence, and his 48-yard field goal early in the second quarter was the longest of his career. His only miss came from 52 yards out, and Ewald clearly is comfortable as the Hoosiers' top kicker.
QUOTE TO NOTE: I've never seen a game get away as fast as that game got away. -- Indiana head coach Bill Lynch on seeing a 10-10 tie early in the second quarter turn into a 38-10 halftime deficit.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
LOOKING GOOD: If you're looking for a silver lining from Indiana's beating by Wisconsin, it's that backup QBs Edward Wright-Baker and Dusty Kiel got a head start on next year's quarterback battle. With senior Ben Chappell graduating, the Hoosiers will be making a change, and both passers gained some much-needed experience in a game setting. Neither looked very good, but at least they got their feet wet.
STILL NEEDS WORK: Indiana's defensive confidence has been blown to bits, and the secondary has been especially awful. Wisconsin threw for 260 yards and completed 17 of 21 passes, and the Hoosiers' soft zone defense didn't put up much fight for the final three quarters. Indiana's run defense was even worse, giving up 338 yards on 47 carries, and IU was blown off the ball at the snap time and time again. The Hoosiers' passing attack struggled when QB Ben Chappell left with an injury in the first half.
FS Chris Adkins returned to the lineup after missing the first nine games with a broken ankle. He finished with seven tackles, including one for loss.
QB Ben Chappell had a rough day. He first had to leave the game when his knee brace got caught in the turf and bent, preventing him from bending his leg. He later left with a leg injury and didn't return.
WR Tandon Doss played after being limited in practice with a concussion. He scored a touchdown, but he finished with just one catch for 2 yards.