Indiana can't get over the hump again

Posted by ESPN's Adam Rittenberg

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Iowa's clutch victories away from Kinnick Stadium are the talk of the Big Ten this fall, but the Indiana Hoosiers could easily be the league's road warriors.

Indiana held fourth-quarter leads in all three of its conference road games, against Michigan, Northwestern and Iowa. And all three times, the Hoosiers managed to fall short.

The Hoosiers blew late leads in Ann Arbor and Evanston, but their fourth-quarter collapse Saturday against No. 4 Iowa had to sting the most. Indiana totally controlled the first half and overcame some speed bumps in the third quarter to claim a 24-14 lead.

But from the moment Iowa wide receiver Marvin McNutt broke free for a 92-yard touchdown, Indiana's hopes for a huge upset, a program-reviving win and a victory that would have moved them closer to bowl eligibility went down the drain.

Iowa dominated the final 12 minutes, scoring 28 points and surging to a 42-24 triumph.

"We played a great football team that made some big plays on us," head coach Bill Lynch said. "There wasn't anything mental about those long pass plays. Those were plays they executed and we didn't stop.

"Our kids were locked in from start to finish. There was not [a letdown]. That wasn't the case."

Indiana could have folded following an 86-yard Tyler Sash interception return that hit several players before falling into the Iowa safety's arms. The Hoosiers also had a touchdown catch overturned by replay and missed a short field goal.

They responded from those mishaps, but Iowa's big pass plays to McNutt and Derrell Johnson-Koulianos, who raced 66 yards for a touchdown, proved to be too much. Indiana played with a banged-up secondary, as two starters, cornerback Ray Fisher and safety Nick Polk, didn't play most of the game.

The Hoosiers' defensive backs recorded five interceptions, but the fourth-quarter breakdowns cost them in the end.

"Those are big plays that are tough to overcome," Lynch said.

Last week, Indiana blew a 28-3 lead against Northwestern as the Wildcats mounted the biggest comeback in team history. Lynch later lamented that the Hoosiers scored too much too early.

Did it happen again?

"This is a completely different game," Lynch said. "Our kids battled."