It wasn’t a fun game to watch and there are loads of “what-ifs”, but the point remains: Indiana lost a golden opportunity to get closer to a bowl game.
With that, let’s delve into the numbers.
This game went into garbage-time when the 4th quarter started with Indiana down 17. It actually came out of garbage-time following Tevin’s 69 yard touchdown run and Shane Wynn 2 point conversion to bring Indiana within 16. It went back into garbage time following Chris Covington’s 2nd interception with Iowa running out the clock to end the game.
I will also add that while the offense did not perform well once Nate Sudfeld was injured, this is not to disparage Chris Covington. The kid didn’t even arrive on campus expecting to play QB. To be thrown into that situation as a true freshman, it was virtually impossible for him to succeed.
- Iowa did what we expected them to do. They slowly moved the ball downfield, staying on track, and wearing down the Indiana offense. Their 2nd drive was prototypical, methodical Iowa. They were actually a little more explosive than expected, getting touchdowns of 72 and 60 yards.
- Indiana, on the other hand, had major issues moving the ball downfield. 57% of Indiana’s plays went for 2 yards or less. There was no discernible difference here between Sudfeld and Covington drives at 57% and 56%, respectively.
- Indiana was often in passing situations and wasn’t very productive in them, as you would expect with Covington playing most of the game. Without the threat of a passing game, it’s difficult to overcome frequent passing downs.
- Iowa was much better at finishing their drives than Indiana. While neither team had many opportunities, but Iowa scored each time they reached the 40. Indiana went 1 for 2.
- Indiana ran 23% of their plays in Iowa territory. Iowa ran 42% of their plays in Indiana territory.
- Indiana’s average spot was their own 38 yard line. Iowa’s was the Indiana 49.
- Average down and distance:
- Indiana: 1st and 10, 2nd and 9.2, 3rd and 7.5
- Iowa: 1st and 9.9, 2nd and 7.0, 3rd and 6.5
- While I think it is safe to assume that the offense would have been more productive with Sudfeld at QB the entire game, interestingly, Indiana had a 33% success rate with Covington at QB compared to 29% with Sudfeld.[ref]Sud’s first 3 possessions were all 3-and-outs. His next two went for TDs and his last would have been a TD if Shane Wynn would have caught a pass placed directly in his hands.[/ref]
- The offense also earned 6 of their Equivalent Points (less turnovers) with Covington at QB compared to 5 (less the pick-6 interception) with Sudfeld. However, the Covington offense averaged 0.39 PPP and the Sudfeld offense averaged 0.61 PPP.
- The Iowa offense got even more vanilla once they got up big and Covington was in for IU. Fueled by touchdowns of 72 and 60 yards, their PPP before Nate got hurt was 0.82 and 0.25 after he got hurt.
- Given all this information, I think it is safe to assume that without Sudfeld being injured, this would have been a close game. I’m still not sure that Indiana wins, but the game is within a touchdown a lot more than 12 minutes.
- Indiana had 11 drives where they didn’t score and only picked up 1 first down or fewer. This includes their first 3 drives of the game and 6 drives in a row spanning the 2nd and 3rd quarters.[ref] Also, due to big plays, IU only had 2 drives where they picked up 2 or more first downs, and 1 of those was in garbage time.[/ref]
- Even with the offensive struggles, without turnovers, Indiana scored 28.2 equivalent points compared to 30.2 for Iowa. The biggest difference in the game was the 3 turnovers for 17.2 equivalent points. Without the pick-6, maybe Tevin’s 45 yard run ties the game. Maybe IU scores a touchdown their last drive when they reached the 11 yard line instead of a Covington interception. However, it’s hard to win when you give up so many points.
- The Covington offense was not productive. At one point, IU was 3 for 20 on successful plays following his entry into the game. However, despite the panicked, flag-football offense,[ref]Without the laterals. I would have preferred more laterals[/ref] Indiana still could have made it a game. It’s unfortunate that Sudfeld got hurt, but it is what it is.