Falcons’ offense struggles in 42-10 loss at Indiana

BGSU Coach Clawson: ‘We got served a little humble pie’

Bowling Green quarterback Matt Johnson throws a pass against Indiana. He did not throw for a touchdown on Saturday.
Bowling Green quarterback Matt Johnson throws a pass against Indiana. He did not throw for a touchdown on Saturday.

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Mid-American Conference football teams know what they have to do to win against a Big Ten opponent.

They may need a little help from the other team, maybe a dropped pass or a turnover or a missed tackle. MAC schools give themselves no chance to win against any Big Ten team without playing their best.

The Bowling Green State University football team didn’t play anywhere near its best Saturday, and the result was a 42-10 loss at Indiana.

The Falcons came into Memorial Stadium looking for a third straight impressive performance to start the season. Instead BG’s vaunted defense surrendered 601 yards, and the offense failed to score a touchdown as the Falcons fell to 2-1 this season.

“We got our butts whipped,” Bowling Green coach Dave Clawson said. “We got served a little humble pie.

“I don’t know if we’ve been reading the press clippings about how good we are, but this was a thumping that we have to rebound from.”

The Falcons’ offense had some success early, but struggled to turn drives into points. After a three-and-out on its first drive, BG drove 46 yards on nine plays, only to see Tyler Tate miss a 47-yard field goal.

A 12-play, 72-yard drive resulted in a 45-yard Tate field goal, but on the next possession midway through the second period quarterback Matt Johnson was sacked on a fourth-and-1 play.

To that point the Falcons’ highly touted defense had bent but not broken. BG stopped the Hoosiers on four plays inside the 2 on their first drive, and kept Indiana out of the end zone on three of its first four drives.

Indiana had tasted success throwing the ball, rolling up 175 yards on just eight completions, so Bowling Green changed its defense to slow down the Hoosiers’ passing attack — only to see IU cram the ball down the Falcons’ throats.

After Bowling Green’s fourth-down failure, the Hoosiers rolled 73 yards on eight plays, with Tevin Coleman covering the last 43 on a sweep through the Falcons’ defense.

“They got us out of our defense,” Clawson said. “A lot of what we do is we press our corners and gang up on the run. When they threw the ball over our head for the sixth or seventh time, we had to stop outnumbering the run. And we gave them a better run surface.

“We went in there trying to force them to throw the ball, and they had a lot of success doing that. We had to get out of that — I didn’t want to see our corners get run by again.”

On their next drive the Hoosiers rolled 80 yards on six plays, including a 50-yard run by Stephen Houston that set up an eight-yard TD toss from Nate Sudfeld to Kofi Hughes.

That was the first of five straight possessions that ended in touchdowns as the Hoosiers rolled to 266 yards rushing — 240 of which came in the final three quarters.

“Everything we saw, we prepared for all week,” said linebacker Paul Swan, who had eight tackles. “We just didn’t come out and execute it.

“It was sloppy. Guys were doing their own thing. It was frustrating.”

Late in the quarter the Falcons offense drove to IU’s 15, but Tate misfired on a 33-yard field goal attempt.

There was more frustration in the second half as Bowling Green drove into Indiana territory on four of its five drives, yet never scored.

“We didn’t fall into a rhythm, I thought,” said Johnson, who completed 25 of 44 passes for 248 yards before being replaced by Matt Schilz late in the contest. “The defense got us two big stops [early], and we really didn’t capitalize on them.

"Give them credit, because they played well. But we really shot ourselves in the foot.”

As a result, Indiana improved to 2-1 while the Falcons saw this past week’s talk of undefeated seasons and national poll recognition come crashing down.

“It definitely wasn’t the outcome we expected,” Johnson said. “We expected to walk out of here with a win.

“We knew IU would be a tough team, but we thought we were the better team. Coming up short like this, we’ll have to see how we respond.”

Contact John Wagner at: jwagner@theblade.com, 419-724-6481 or on Twitter @jwagnerblade.