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Indiana looks defenseless in loss to Northwestern

Northwestern linebacker CollEllis (45) brings down Indianwide receiver Shane Wynn (1) during an NCAA college football game Memorial Stadium BloomingtInd.

Northwestern linebacker Collin Ellis (45) brings down Indiana wide receiver Shane Wynn (1) during an NCAA college football game at Memorial Stadium in Bloomington, Ind., Saturday, Oct. 29, 2011. (AP Photo by Chris Howell/The Herald-Times)

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Updated: December 1, 2011 8:38AM



BLOOMINGTON — In the worst loss of Bill Lynch’s Indiana coaching career, the Hoosiers allowed 38 points in the first half of an 83-20 loss at Wisconsin last season.

On Saturday, first-year Hoosiers coach Kevin Wilson saw his team give up 38 points in the first half of a 59-38 loss at home to Northwestern.

It’s the second time this season the Hoosiers (1-8, 0-5 Big Ten) have allowed 38 points before halftime, as Wisconsin did it to Indiana again two weeks ago.

And Northwestern didn’t let up, scoring on nine of 10 possessions before finally punting with 11:35 to play in the game. The Wildcats (3-5, 1-4) had the ball last before halftime but opted to run out the clock.

“I thought from a plan standpoint we had a pretty good match,” Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald said. “We thought schematically we could take advantage of some things if we executed.”

That they did.

Indiana scored on the game’s opening possession, on a 12-yard run by quarterback Tre Roberson. And on the ensuing Northwestern drive, the Wildcats had to settle for a 37-yard field goal by Jeff Budzien.

But the Wildcats scored touchdowns on eight of their next nine possessions, failing to score only when they lost the ball on a muffed punt return and when they opted to run out the clock at the end of the first half.

Northwestern punted just once, and was able to run out the final 9:08 of the game. Northwestern had first-and-goal at the Indiana 8 but kneeled on the ball for the last three plays.

“That was respectful of Pat to do that at the end, when they could have scored more,” Wilson said.

The Wildcats finished with 616 yards of offense, including 317 on the ground.

“Northwestern physically outplayed us,” Wilson said.

The Hoosiers started seven freshmen on defense, but neither Wilson nor junior cornerback Greg Heban blamed the young players for the defense’s struggles.

“I trust them out there just as much as I trust everyone else,” Heban said.

“Some of these young guys … are the best cats,” Wilson said of the decision to start the freshmen.

Indiana fared well running the ball as well. Stephen Houston ran for 151 yards and two touchdowns and Roberson added 121 yards and a score as the Hoosiers ran for 319 yards.

“We can’t give up those kind of yards rushing,” Fitzgerald said. “We’re going to see a dynamic runner next week (in Nebraska’s Rex Burkhead) so we’ve got a lot of work to do.”



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