What does Indiana have to do to get a victory over a respectable opponent?
It looked like today would be the day for IU to get over the hump, especially after it took a 17-7 first-half lead at Navy and when it went ahead 30-21 in the fourth quarter. But it was still not to be, as the Midshipmen rallied, 31-30, and Kevin Wilson was left to scratch his head after his team's fifth straight loss.
The Hoosiers' season began with wins over Indiana State and UMass. But since then, they've lost a heartbreaker to Ball State, fell short in a comeback against Northwestern, blew a huge first-half lead to Michigan State and took Ohio State to the wire.
Late-game failures have doomed the Hoosiers. On Saturday, they had the ball with two minutes to go for an offense that hadn't been stopped much all day. But Cameron Coffman threw an interception to seal the game. The Indiana defense also gave up back-to-back- 74-yard and 72-yard drives in the fourth quarter as Navy scored the game's final 10 points.
Other mistakes also hurt, as Coffman threw a pick-six in the first half when the Hoosiers could have delivered a knockout blow. IU also settled for three short field goals instead of cashing in for touchdowns inside Navy's red zone, which proved costly in the end.
The defense only allowed 353 yards and 4.5 yards per carry, which are decent numbers considering the difficulty of preparing for the option in the middle of the season. But it couldn't get a key stop late and did not cause a single turnover.
So this is Indiana: Good enough to play with everyone on its schedule, but not good enough to beat a respectable opponent. Today's loss makes a bowl game seem virtually impossible. Sooner or later, the Hoosiers are going to get over the hump and finish out a game. But it's going to be later than they would like.