BLOOMINGTON -- Indiana fought the good fight, even as the clock ticked toward midnight. It ran; it scored; it intercepted; it recovered an improbable on-side kick.
Still, in the end, it lost. Eighth-ranked Ohio State, behind do-it-all quarterback Braxton Miller, won 52-49 Saturday night.
Not good enough, coach Kevin Wilson said.
“You saw a team give a really strong effort,” he said. “We showed a lot of resilience and fight. Those guys kept coming. They're giving us a pretty good go. But until we get Ws, it's all smoke and mirrors. It's just fluff.”
Wilson, for the record, is not a fluff coach.
“Being close isn't good enough,” he said.
Still, it was the most points the Hoosiers had ever scored against Ohio State, and their most ever against a top-10 team, but it wasn't enough to prevent their fourth straight loss. They are 2-4 overall, 0-3 in the Big Ten. Ohio State is 7-0 and 3-0.
“Our team has shown repeatedly it can fight back,” Wilson said. “They competed. This team believes in itself. We're not getting the results.
“We don't want to be like the Old Testament where they wander in the desert and start doubting things. What we're doing is gaining. We're challenging the seniors to keep this going. We're close to success.”
IU couldn't stop Miller. He ran for 149 yards and a touchdown. He threw for 211 yards and two TDs. Tailback Carlos Hyde rushed for 156 yards and a touchdown. Rod Smith, a former Harding standout, was solid as a tailback and on special teams. He rushed six times for 40 yards. He returned three kickoffs for 85 yards, with a long of 33.
The Hoosiers delivered plenty of offensive blows, and that was with at least four dropped passes. Quarterback Cam Coffman was 22-for-44 for 275 yards and a touchdown. Tailback Stephen Houston rushed for 91 yards on just 11 carries and scored two touchdowns. Quarterback Nate Sudfeld came in for the final few minutes and threw for 77 yards and two TDs.
The result was the most points Ohio State has allowed since giving up 63 to Penn State in 1994.
Not good enough, coach Urban Meyer said.
“IU is much improved and we are not good in certain areas and we were exposed,” he said. “We have got to get some things fixed. I have to get more involved (with the defense) and find out what the issues are. I know injuries are an issue. When you take your starting fullback (Zach Boren) and start him at inside linebacker, you have a little problem. I'm going to increase my involvement with the defense.”
In the last two weeks, IU has lost to Michigan State by four (after leading by 17) and to Ohio State by three.
"We just have to keep fighting until the finish," receiver Shane Wynn said. "Never give up and never lose faith."
Miller accounted for 48 yards in Ohio State's touchdown-opening drive, capped by Corey Brown's 12-yard scoring run off a Miller pitch. Drew Basil added a 35-yard field goal and the Buckeyes had a 10-0 lead.
IU came back on Houston touchdown runs of 59 and 12 yards to make it 14-10. The Buckeyes responded by blocking a punt for a touchdown, and then Miller's 60-yard TD pass to receiver Devin Smith for a 24-14 halftime lead.
Ohio State was poised to go ahead 38-17 in the third quarter. Then cornerback Greg Heban intercepted a Miller pass in the end zone, and three plays later Coffman hit Shane Wynn for the 76-yard TD pass to make it 31-24.
Miller left the game briefly with an injury and Kenny Guiton replaced him. Guiton's 14-yard TD shuttle pass to Hyde made it 38-24 late in the third quarter. IU kicker Mitch Ewald's 44-yard field goal, set up by Tevin Coleman's 60-yard kickoff return, made it 38-27 as the third quarter ended.
In the fourth quarter Ohio State got touchdowns from Hyde (a 1-yard run) and Smith (a 46-yard catch). IU countered with D'Angelo Roberts' 1-yard TD for a 52-34 score.
At that point, Wilson said he wanted to give Sudfeld some work. The freshman got hot, tossing a 12-yard TD pass to Duwyce Wilson and a 25-yard scoring toss to Houston. Cody Latimer's 2-point conversion run made it 52-49 with 1:05 left.
IU didn't get another offensive shot.
“We're close,” Wilson said. “We'll keep plugging at it, working at it.”