Preview No. 11: Indiana Hoosiers

Indiana quarterback Nate Sudfeld (Jeff Hanisch/USA TODAY Sports Photo)

Indiana quarterback Nate Sudfeld (Jeff Hanisch/USA TODAY Sports Photo)

This is the 11th in a series of articles previewing Ohio State’s 12 opponents for the 2014 season.

After back-to-back road games, the Buckeyes return home to face Indiana on Nov. 22. The start time or the network the game will air on has yet to be announced.

Coaches and History:

While the Indiana men’s basketball program has a long-storied history, the same can’t be said for the football program. Only three coaches since the beginning of IU football in 1892 have lasted 10 seasons, and only one of them finished above .500.

With his distinctive Texas drawl, Bo McMillin took over as head coach at Indiana in 1934 after spending six seasons at Kansas State.

After the Hoosiers won just one game in 1933, McMillin’s first Crimson and Cream squad went 3-3-2 to break even. From 1936-1939, Indiana had three-straight winning seasons under McMillan, but that was followed by four-consecutive losing seasons.

In 1942 and 1944, the Hoosiers went 7-3 that sandwiched a 4-4-2 campaign in 1943. But McMillin’s finest season as coach in Bloomington came in 1945 when he led he Hoosiers their only unbeaten season (9-0-1) and IU’s first and only outright Big Ten title. The achievement earned McMillan the title of Man of the Year by the Football Writers Association, and Coach of the Year by the Football Coaches Association.

A huge part of the team’s success in 1945 is attributable to George Taliaferro, an African-American who helped break down color barriers in sports. That season, Taliaferro rushed for 719 yards on 156 carries and six touchdowns.

Another key player on that 1945 Indiana team was end Ted Kluszewski, who went on to play Major League Baseball for four different teams over 15 seasons, including the Cincinnati Reds from 1947-1957.

Two seasons later, McMillin retired from coaching to serve as IU’s athletic director. Overall he was 63–48–11 in 14 years.

John Pont took over the Indiana football program in 1965, and while he was just 31-51-1 in eight seasons at Bloomington, Pont did lead the Hoosiers to their first and only Rose Bowl appearance. In 1967, IU went 9-1 in the regular season, losing only to Minnesota. Both the Hoosiers and Gophers tied for the Big Ten title, and Indiana was the Big Ten representative in Pasadena. But Indiana lost to USC in the 1968 Rose Bowl, 14-3.

ESPN’s Lee Corso was the head coach at Indiana for 10 seasons from 1973-1982, leading the Hoosiers to two winning seasons in 1979 and 1980, but also had seven losing ones. His best season was in 1979 when Indiana went 8-4 and upset No. 9 BUY in the Holiday Bowl, 38-37. Corso’s overall record was 41–68–2.

Bill Mallory holds the record for most wins at Indiana after going 69–77–3 in 13 seasons from 1984-1996. After a mark of 0-11 in his first year in 1984, Mallory led the Hoosiers to back-to-back winning seasons in 1987 and 1988.

In 1987, Indiana was 8-4 overall and finished tied for second in the Big Ten with upset wins over No. 9 Ohio State and No. 20 Michigan. The Hoosiers went on the Peach Bowl losing to Tennessee, 27-22.

The next season, IU had an overall mark of 8-3-1 under Mallory, but finished fifth in the Big Ten at 5-3. The Hoosiers took on South Carolina in the Liberty Bowl, defeating the Gamecocks, 34-10.

Mallory had four winning seasons over the next six, but after going 2-9 in 1995 and 3-8 in 1996, Mallory was fired.

Kevin Wilson enters his fourth season as head coach at Indiana. He’s 10-26 overall.

Offense:

In Wilson’s three years, the offense has set 22 school records, including points, total yardage and passing yardage in a single season. The Hoosiers offense set single-season program records with 508.5 total yards per game, 38.4 points per game, 36 passing touchdowns, 62 total touchdowns and 300 first downs. Indiana led the Big Ten in passing, finished second in scoring and total offense, and fourth in rushing.

Indiana will benefit with eight starters returning on offense that includes junior quarterback Nate Sudfeld, junior running back Tevin Coleman, senior wide receiver Shane Wynn, junior left tackle Jason Spriggs, senior left guard Bernard Taylor, senior center Collin Rahrig, sophomore right guard Dan Feeney, and junior right tackle Peyton Eckert.

Sudfeld played in all 12 games with eight starts and completed 194-of-322 (60.2%) of his passes for 2,523 yards with 21 touchdowns, nine interceptions and a 142.0 pass efficiency rating. Sudfeld was third in the Big Ten in yards per completion (13.0) and yards per attempt (7.8), fourth in passing yards per game (210.2) and completions per game (16.2).

Coleman, an honorable mention All-Big Ten selection by the coaches and media, rushed for 958 yards on 131 carries with 12 touchdowns, while catching 19 passes for 193 yards.

Wynn, from Glenville High School in Cleveland, is the Hoosiers’ top returning receiver after catching 46 passes for 633 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2013. Wynn finished second in Big Ten and tied for 19th nationally with his 11 TDs, plus he added one rushing TD and a 58-yard punt return for a score.

Defense:

This is where the Hoosiers failed mightily last season. Indiana was ranked 114th in FBS football in scoring defense allowing 38.8 points per game, and ranked 120th in total defense allowing 527.9 yards per game. IU surendered 35 or more points in 10 of their 12 games.

Talk about a Swiss cheese defense!

Then Wilson fired his defensive coordinator Doug Mallory in January, replacing the Hoosiers’ maligned defensive coordinator with Brian Knorr, the former Ohio coach who spent the last three seasons running Jim Grobe’s defense at Wake Forest.

Switching to a 3-4 base defense, nine starters return. Five of the six top tacklers are back with senior weakside linebacker David Cooper (85 total tackles, 6.0 TFLs,., 2.5 sacks), senior safety Mark Murphy (84 total tackles), senior cornerback Tim Bennett (73 total tackles, 3.5 TFLs), senior middle linebacker T.J. Simmons (68 total tackles 3.5 TFLs), and senior strongside linebacker Flo Hardin (59 total tackles, 3.5 TFLs).