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Nate Sudfeld injury hurts Hoosiers' bowl hopes

Indiana quarterback Nate Sudfeld didn't quite have the start to the season he wanted, but there was always that hope that he could turn it around on this high-powered offense.

Not anymore.

Sudfeld suffered a shoulder injury Saturday, and coach Kevin Wilson announced Monday afternoon that he'll require surgery and is out for the season. The only loss that might've been more impactful to the Hoosiers is if college football's leading rusher, Tevin Coleman, missed time.

The injury really couldn't have come at a worse time for Indiana. This is the most critical part of the season for the Hoosiers, who need three more wins to guarantee bowl eligibility. Three wins would've been difficult before, but now it seems even more improbable.

Indiana's next three opponents -- Michigan State, Michigan, Penn State -- are all ranked within the top 15 nationally on defense. And Sudfeld's likely replacement, freshman Chris Covington, was moved from linebacker to quarterback in preseason camp.

Covington played sparingly in four games this season and threw his first career passes against Iowa, when Sudfeld went down midway through the second quarter. His performance there didn't exactly inspire confidence. He finished 3-of-12 for 31 yards and two interceptions.

The quarterback situation seems somewhat similar to Wisconsin -- but it's even worse. The Badgers have suffered their fair share of setbacks, thanks to sub-par quarterback play, but the Badgers at least have a solid defense and a great running back. Indiana has Coleman, but the defense is allowing more than 31 points a game.

Can IU really score that many against the Spartans, Wolverines or Nittany Lions? Only once have any of those teams allowed an offense to score more than 31 points against them. (And that was Michigan State-Oregon ... and the Hoosiers are no Oregon.)

This is disastrous news to Indiana. Sudfeld wasn't playing quite as well as last season, but he was still doing OK. He had thrown for 1,151 yards along with six touchdowns and three picks. He was doing well enough so opponents couldn't constantly stack the box against Coleman.

Now, without Sudfeld, opponents are going to challenge Indiana to pass. And, just like Wisconsin, it doesn't appear as if the Hoosiers will be up for that challenge. It could be a long second half of the season.