With a new season underway, the Indiana Hoosiers looked to cap off an embarrassing year in 2011 where they only won one single game. The Hoosiers looked to start off on a high note as they faced the Indiana State Sycamores Saturday to kick off the college football season.
Like many have thought with the Hoosiers going against this FCS school, it seemed like an easy victory. However, it was much tougher than IU thought, barely leaving the fans in Memorial Stadium with a victory with a 24-17 win over ISU.
The Hoosiers defense was atrocious, especially trying to stop Sycamores running back Shakir Bell. It was pretty clear that Indiana missed a spot on recruiting the Warren Central High School product. Bell would end up rushing for 192 yards and a touchdown, delivering almost all of the Sycamores’ offensive production.
Throughout the first half, it was mainly Bell vs. the Hoosiers. He already had 103 yards after the first quarter, clearly showing why he was a co-runner-up for the Walter Payton Award last season, the FCS-equivalent of the Heisman trophy.
What saved Indiana was a series of drops by the Sycamores receivers that caused the defeat. With that, the Hoosiers were able to drop a nine-game skid that dated to last season.
The highlight of the night, however, was IU quarterback Tre Roberson. Roberson, who started as a freshman last season, showed a huge amount of improvement in the victory. Instead of being more of a quarterback who likes to run, Roberson honed his craft as a solid passer. And it worked, as he ended up going 26-of-36 for a career-high 280 passing yards and two touchdowns (one run) in the victory.
“I thought he (Roberson) did real well. I think he’s going to have a real good year, and I think he’s a lot better than a lot of people think he is,” Hoosiers head coach Kevin Wilson said. “We didn’t want to run him a bunch, we didn’t try to. We tried to keep him in the pocket, we worked on that. I think you saw he can throw on target and he’s getting better, and I think he’ll do nothing but get better.”
The Sycamores took a quick lead in the game with 54-yard gallop to the end zone courtesy of Bell. With that speed, no one was going to catch him after he burst through the hole. However, IU responded on the next drive as Roberson found wide receiver Shane Wynn wide-open for a 71-yard touchdown to tie it up.
“Coming in this year, the game was slower,” Roberson said. “In the offseason knowing what to work on, it just it made me more confident, it made me more comfortable.”
A Stephen Houston touchdown run and field goal in the second quarter would give the Hoosiers a 17-7 lead. It was 17-10 heading into halftime.
To start the third quarter, Roberson came out on a high note and capped off a strong drive with a one-yard score to take a commanding 24-10 lead. However, the Sycamores would respond right back as quarterback Mike Perish found Austen Wozniak for the 23-yard touchdown connection.
However, missed chances throughout the game kept the Sycamores from beating IU for the first time.
“We had chances throughout the game, but we didn’t take advantage of them,” coach Trent Miles said. “We just didn’t get it done, and that falls on us.”
The loss drops the Sycamores to 0-4 all-time versus Indiana and 0-10 all time against Big Ten foes.
Indiana will face UMass next. They need to follow up with a much better defensive performance if they want to win against this tougher school.
“Our defense needs to be better, but four sacks, a couple turnovers, it’s a decent start,” Wilson said. “I’d like to see those guys continue to play better.”
Hopefully they will next week.