Indiana cornerback Michael Hunter (17) and safety Greg Heban (9) defend against Bowling Green's Shaun Joplin (9) durig an NCAA college football game at Memorial Stadium in Bloomington, Ind., Saturday, Sept. 14, 2013. (AP Photo/The Herald-Times, Chris Howell)
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BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — In the latter stages of the first quarter Saturday at Memorial Stadium, Bowling Green’s Paul Senn crashed through the Indiana line, almost beat the ball to the Hoosiers’ punter, literally plucked it off his right big toe, never broke stride, and scored a touchdown on a 56-yard play.
It looked more like a handoff than a blocked punt. You think the Falcons’ coaches saw something on film?
Yes, BG had the Hoosiers’ number on fourth down. The Falcons came within a whisker of blocking another punt, too. They were on ‘em like white on rice.
First, second, and third downs … well, those were problems.
After two impressive wins to open the season, the Falcons crash-landed here on a sunny afternoon the likes of which Pop Warner and old Amos Stagg and John Heisman and the whole bunch had in mind when they started drawing X’s and O’s on a chalkboard.
Of course, those great gridiron minds never envisioned an offense like Indiana’s.
Make no mistake, when it comes to the spread and the hurry-up and packing as many plays as possible into a 60-minute window, the Hoosiers aren’t exactly Oregon. That thought is laughable.
The concept is similar and the Falcons’ defense, a unit that has had its way more often than not since the start of the 2012 season, wasn’t up for it.
Neither was BG’s offense. If the Falcons were going to compete, the final score would have had to be something like 38-35. Despite rolling up a decent 409 yards, the visitors’ offense scored three points. That was just a tad deficient.
So this 42-10 BG loss was disappointing in light of the Falcons being expected to, well, show up.
“It shows us we’re not bullet-proof,” said quarterback Matt Johnson.
MAC teams are not supposed to beat Big Ten teams, although it happens from time to time and Indiana has always been considered fair game. These Hoosiers, perhaps, are better, and since the game had no particular bearing on BG’s hopes and dreams for 2013, I suppose they can just forget it.
The Falcons expected, and were expected, to compete and have a chance. They didn’t and they didn’t.
The 24-hour rule exists, win or lose, celebrating or commiserating, and linebacker Paul Swan said these 24 hours “will sting.”
Eventually, the coaches will turn the projectors on and it will really sting. The Falcons will watch the film, grimace, squirm, and hide their heads in their hands.
“We’re extremely disappointed,” said BG’s Dave Clawson. “As a coach you just want your team to play up to its capabilities and we clearly didn’t do that. We didn’t play well… Take an offense like [Indiana’s] and don’t play well, the result is 42 points.
“I believe we’re at a point in our program where we don’t go into any game thinking we can’t win. We didn’t look at this game like we were big underdogs. We thought if we came in and executed and played well that this was a winnable game.
“You have to put it behind you, yeah, but there are a lot of things on film here that if we don’t learn from [they] will pop up again. It just didn’t happen. It wasn’t an accident. We didn’t play well and we got our butts whipped today and we got served a little humble pie. I don’t know if we’ve been reading the press clippings about how good we are.”
Well, these clippings should change all that.
BG’s defense surrendered 601 yards and the Falcons hadn’t been touched for more than 452 yards in any of 17 previous games. IU averaged 8.1 per play and had two 100-yard rushers and one 100-yard receiver. The Hoosiers were 8-of-13 on third down plays and we’re not talking about dives into the line. It was plus-20 on third-and-13, plus-11 on third-and-10, plus-10 on third-and-seven, plus-20 on third-and-17, and plus-31 on third-and-18, to cover some of them.
Indiana ran the same rushing play three times and it produced 43, 50, and 40 yards. BG, meanwhile, missed a couple field goals in the first half, threw an interception from close in early in the second half after starting a drive at the Hoosiers’ 42 yard line, and then drove 55 yards into the red zone on 15 plays and took more than 7 minutes off the clock and scored zero points.
Or, if you’re tired of numbers, let’s just say the Falcons got exposed … a bad effort against a so-so opponent in a Big Ten venue that is anything but hostile and was maybe half full. Or, to relate it to BG’s performance, half empty.
Contact Blade sports columnist Dave Hackenberg at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6398.