IU lost 42-39 when its defense gave up a late 50-yard touchdown pass and its offense fumbled away — at least — an overtime forcing field goal attempt.
The Hoosiers (3-5 overall, 1-3 in the Big Ten) rallied from a 35-13 third quarter deficit with a 26-0 run. They led 39-35 with five minutes left.
That gave Minnesota (7-2, 3-2) just enough time to win it with offense, and then defense.
"It’s tough," IU cornerback Tim Bennett said. "Tomorrow we've got to watch the film and get ready for Illinois."
The Hoosiers were poised to win the game, or at least give kicker Mitch Ewald an easy field goal attempt to force overtime. They were at the Minnesota 9-yard line with 25 seconds left when quarterback Nate Sudfeld's swing pass to Tevin Coleman became a backward pass that was fumbled.
Minnesota recovered, and won.
"In the heat of it, we didn't execute it," coach Kevin Wilson said. "it's easy to have that go backward. It wasn't Tevin's fault. As coaches, we have to do a better job of putting our guys in better positions."
The late drama ruined an Indiana rally from a 35-13 late third-quarter deficit. It means IU has to win three of its last four games to become bowl eligible. Given that two of those games are on the road — at unbeaten Ohio State, at top-25 Wisconsin — those postseason prospects are grim.
“We got too stale and stagnant,” Wilson said. “Then we got it moving. The defense started feeding off of it. Our guys boned up.”
“This was a W we should have got.”
The Hoosiers had a pair of 100-yard rushers for the second time this season. Stephen Houston had 111 yards and a touchdown. Coleman had 108 yards and a touchdown.
Quarterback Nate Sudfeld came off the bench to go 13-for-20 for 189 yards and two touchdowns. Tre Roberson was 8-for-18 for 80 yards.
Minnesota, which entered the game as the Big Ten's worst passing attack, averaging just 122.9 yards, got 325. Quarterback Philip Nelson threw for 298 yards and four touchdowns. Tailback David Cobb rushed for a career-high 188 yards.
"Our kids made plays when they needed to make plays, and that was a huge play at the end," Gophers coach Jerry Kill said. "We'll take another step."
IU's shaky defense stumbled early, giving up a touchdown on the game's opening drive, then locked in. It stopped Minnesota on four straight times — once on a turnover, three times on three and out — the rest of the first quarter.
The problem — it remains a four-quarter game.
The Hoosiers, meanwhile, got an 18-yard TD pass from Tre Roberson to Kofi Hughes, and a pair of Ewald field goals, to go up 13-7 early in the second quarter.
Then the defense buckled. Minnesota got a 59-yard run by David Cobb to set up Mitch Leidner's 5-yard touchdown run for a 14-13 score. The Gophers scored on their next possession via Philip Nelson's 11-yard TD pass on a fourth-and-two game. They led 21-13.
Minnesota added a 33-yard pass from Nelson to Derrick Engel, and a 27-yard run by Cobb to go ahead 35-13 with 6:24 left in the third quarter.
IU roared back with Sudfeld's 40-yard TD pass to Shane Wynn and Tevin Coleman's 55-yard touchdown run. Ten seconds into the fourth quarter, it was an eight-point game. Six minutes after that, it was 35-33 on Stephen Houston's touchdown run. The 2-point conversion attempt failed.
The Hoosiers went ahead 39-35 on Sudfeld's 30-yard touchdown to Cody Latimer with 5:33 left. Two minutes later, Minnesota had a 42-39 lead thanks to a 50-yard touchdown pass.
It came down to IU's offense.
In the end, that was asking too much.