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Wednesday, January 15, 2014
Season wrap: Indiana

By Mitch Sherman

Indiana's high hopes for 2013 took a hit with a Sept. 7 loss to Navy, but dreams of a second bowl appearance in 20 years -- and first since 2007 -- were bolstered by a 44-24 victory over Penn State to open Big Ten play. Despite scoring 114 points in the next three games, coach Kevin Wilson's team lost all three.

That was the story of the year for Indiana -- a breathtakingly bad defense that cost coordinator Doug Mallory his job. The Hoosiers ranked 121st nationally in total defense and 11th or 12th in the Big Ten in every major defensive category. On the bright side, Indiana scored 38.4 points per game and averaged more than 500 yards of offense.

Offensive MVP: Sophomore quarterback Nate Sudfeld. Splitting time with Tre Roberson, Sudfeld earned eight starts and completed more than 60 percent of his passes for 2,523 yards and 21 touchdowns. The Hoosiers hummed offensively for much of the season behind the 6-foot-5 Californian, though things got ugly late as he struggled against Wisconsin and Ohio State.

Defensive MVP: Junior cornerback Tim Bennett. A bright spot in a dark season defensively, Bennett led the Hoosiers and ranked No. 1 nationally, according to IU, with 20 pass breakups. He provided solid tackling as an anchor in the Indiana secondary with a team-high 61 solo stops. And he showed well against top opponents, creating turnovers in Indiana's losses to Missouri and Michigan State.

Best moment: The Hoosiers' Oct. 5 win over Penn State in Bloomington, Ind., marked the first victory by IU in 17 games in the series. It also was the first victory to open a Big Ten season for Indiana since 2000. So you can understand the enthusiasm that accompanied this performance. Sudfeld threw for 321 yards against the Nittany Lions.

Worst moment: The Hoosiers' shot at a bowl game was essentially extinguished on Nov. 2 as Minnesota beat IU 42-39 on homecoming weekend at Memorial Stadium. Indiana stormed back from 22-point deficit to lead by four with five minutes left. The Hoosiers then lost the lead, but drove to the 9-yard line before Sudfeld's errant second-down throw to Tevin Coleman was ruled a lateral and recovered by the Gophers.