Indiana football suffers late game collapse in loss to Michigan State

The Herald-Times

coach throwing his headset in disgust was a fitting final image in a 24-21 loss to Michigan State. 

Allen made some questionable choices in the final seconds that ultimately cost the Hoosiers key field position before Chris Freeman missed a 49-yarder to tie the game. 

Freeman lined up to attempt the kick with 18 seconds to go from MSU’s 25-yard line, but Indiana opted to go for it on fourth down after taking a timeout — Josh Henderson converted — and took another shot at the end zone. 

There was a miscommunication on the play that resulted in Brendan Sorsby throwing it deep into an empty part of the end zone. The officials threw a flag for intentional grounding and Freeman attempted the game-tying field from the 31-yard line. 

Indiana was looking to hold onto the Old Brass Spittoon for consecutive years for the first time since 1967-69.

The Hoosiers took a lead with 4:06 to go only to see Michigan State march right down the field in response.

Spartans quarterback Katin Houser threw a 36-yard touchdown with 1:19 to go to Malik Carr. Carr pinwheeled off three defenders to cross the goal line on the play.

More:Missed calls, missed kicks cost IU football in close loss to Michigan State

Indiana football ground game shows up a little too late

After Michigan State took a 17-14 lead with 9:26 to go, Indiana responded with 10 straight runs to get inside the Spartans 10-yard line for only the third time.

The strategy was in stark contrast to the pass-heavy approach IU used to keep pace with Illinois last week and a rare instance where the offense had success committing to the run game. 

Indiana's Trent Howland (27) celebrates his touchdown during the first half of the Indiana versus Michigan State football game at Memorial Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 18, 2023.

Indiana came into the game averaging 111.3 yards per game (No. 113 out of 133 FBS teams) and had only run the ball for more than 200 yards once this season. They had 210 yards (4.6 yards per carry) on Saturday.

Trent Howland did the heavy lifting at the start of the drive with four straight carries up the middle for 22 yards. He was shaken up on the last one, but Josh Henderson kept up the momentum. 

He hurdled Angelo Gross on a 14-yard gain to get the Hoosiers across midfield and had five carries on the drive for 32 yards. 

Henderson attacked the interior of MSU’s defense on all of his runs as well. 

While Brendan Sorsby capped the drive off with an 8-yard touchdown to Trey Walker, Howland and Henderson deserve all the credit for allowing Indiana to (briefly) retake the lead. 

Indiana's Brendan Sorsby (15) runs during the first half of the Indiana versus Michigan State football game at Memorial Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 18, 2023.
Indiana gets Housered 

Michigan State came into Saturday’s game averaging 32 pass attempts per game. Houser had 28 pass attempts by half time. The sophomore went into halftime with 161 yards, four yards shy of his season-high. 

Indiana didn’t give up a ton of explosive plays as it did last week against Illinois, but a completely absent pass rush and soft coverage in the first half — starting corner Nic Toomer didn’t play — helped MSU have success throwing it around the field. 

The worst moment for the secondary came on Montorie Foster Jr.’s 29-yard touchdown. Foster made a one-handed grab away from his body then broke multiple tackles on his way to the end zone. 

It was a rare poor effort from linebacker Aaron Casey and Phillip Dunnam, two of IU’s more consistent defenders this season. 

The pass rush never got going, but Indiana’s defensive backs were more physical and better positioned in coverage in the second half until MSU’s final drive. Houser finished 26 of 41 for 245 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions.

Michael Niziolek is the Indiana beat reporter for The Bloomington Herald-Times. You can follow him on Twitter and read all his coverage.