Indiana falls just short of complete game

BLOOMINGTON - Their Big Ten play to date has been"Jekyll and Hyde" -and that could be seen as an improvement.

Last year Indiana lost six of its eight Big Ten games by ten or more points, an average margin of defeat that has come down early in the Hoosiers' 2012 campaign.

Against Northwestern it was a poor start that negated a furious finish and denied head coach Kevin Wilson his first Big Ten victory. Saturday it was the exact opposite in every way.

An early 17-point lead and a ten-point fourth quarter advantage faded away against Michigan State who owned the final ten minutes of the game to pick up a 31-27 win at Memorial Stadium.

The Spartans scored the final 17 points of the game and shutout the Hoosiers in the second half to send Indiana to 2-3 on the season. It also extends Indiana's conference game losing streak to ten dating back to the team's win over Purdue in the 2010 season finale.

Yet it was the closest the Hoosiers have been at the end of a Big Ten Game the last two seasons, even if it provides little solace to the participants.

"We're not into moral victories," said quarterback Cameron Coffman. "We fully expected to beat that team."

Early on it looked like they would when a pair of Coffman touchdown passes to Ted Bolser and Stephen Houston around a field goal gave Indiana a 17-0 first half lead. Even after the Spartans added two touchdowns Indiana responded with ten more  points-including another Coffman touchdown pass to Shane Wynn-to push the advantage to 27-14 at the half.

"Maybe it was just a bit of a mental edge, just really fired up." said center Will Matte of the fast start. "I think some guys might have become a little complacent."

It seemed that way on offense at times as the Hoosiers picked up just 37 yards and two first downs in the final 30 minutes of the game. Unlike previous games, Wilson chose to stay with Coffman who threw for 256 yards in the first half but was held down to 26 in the second.

"We did a lot of tempo first half, we kinda slowed the tempo down in the second half," said Wynn, who finished with a team-high 12 catches. "I think we should have kept going tempo."

Still it looked as if the Indiana defense might be able to hold on as they allowed just a field goal in the third quarter to keep the lead at ten. Michigan State finally got to the Hoosiers in the fourth using a mix of pass and run to pick up 165 total yards in 15 minutes.

LeVeon Bell converted a fourth-and-one at the Indiana 2 before punching it in from a yard out to cut the Indiana lead to three. On the following series the Spartans' Andrew Maxwell hit Bennie Fowler on the sidelines and he broke free from a defender to complete the game-winning 36-yard touchdown pass.

"We just came out flat in the second half and that hurt us, hurt us real bad," said defensive back Greg Heban of the defense.

The sting of the loss eliminated most of the positives for the team who may have played their best Big Ten game in the year-and-a-half in which Wilson has been the head coach.

"Give credit to their guys and their coaches, they got it done at halftime and played a good second half," said Wilson ."You're not going to beat a good team, you're not going to win the Big Ten like that and you're not going to beat good teams if you don't play 60 (minutes)."

At least the Hoosiers are getting closer to doing so.

 

 

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