Final: Duke 44, Indiana 41 (OT)

Key play: Griffin Oakes’ overtime kick goes over goal-post

Oakes thought it went in. The IU sideline thought it went in. But all that mattered was the fact that the official ruled it didn’t. Replay showed it did. The only problem? By NCAA rule, kicks above the goal post are judgment calls and they cannot be reviewed.  It was a crushing way to fall, especially for a program that made so many strides just to get to the postseason. The kick would’ve only tied the game, and there’s still no guarantee IU would’ve won it in double OT. Still, you can bet that kick will be talked about for years to come.

Telling stat: Devine Redding had IU’s bowl rushing record in the third quarter

No Jordan Howard? No problem. All IU’s “backup” did was set an IU bowl record with 227 rushing yards. To put it simply, Redding was fantastic. By the end of the first quarter, you forgot that IU was without its first-team All-B1G selection. Redding stretched the field all game long for the Hoosiers, which was perfect for the way the IU offense operated. Even if Howard didn’t play, Redding was going to have a significant workload in this one, and you could bet he was prepared. When the IU offense couldn’t afford to skip a beat, Redding stepped up in a big way. You could argue that Redding’s 12 second-half carries weren’t enough with the way he dominated. If Howard does decide to bolt for the NFL, IU is clearly in good hands.

Worth noting:

-The IU defense played better than the scoreboard said

I know, I know. Duke had too many big plays. I won’t deny that. But IU actually came up with some huge stops at key points of the game. Ben Bach stripped a pass what would’ve been a fake punt conversion, Marcus Oliver had a huge-fourth-down stop on a quarterback sneak in the fourth quarter and Rashard Fant had the first interception by an IU cornerback all season. Believe it or not, Duke was only 7-for-19 on third down. The scoreboard might not indicate it, but the IU defense actually did a whole lot more than it usually does to keep the offense in it.

-Three different IU players score first career touchdowns

It was a day of firsts for the Hoosiers. Three different guys got into the end zone for the first time. Luke Timian, Nick Westbrook and Alex Rodriguez all fueled the IU offense with scored. Timian, a walk-on transfer from Oklahoma State, got IU on the board after the Hoosiers were struggling. Westbrook and Rodriguez both had go-ahead touchdowns in the second half that helped IU keep pace in what turned out to be a shootout. With Howard out and Simmie Cobbs Jr. making uncharacteristic drops, the Hoosiers were in need of some atypical stars. That’s what they got.

-Thomas Sirk goes down in overtime

Duke’s starting quarterback took countless shots all day. Oliver popped him pretty good a few times, as did Nick Mangieri. In overtime, he finally took one too many. Parker Boehme relieved the Duke starter at the game’s most critical point. He only got one throw, which was tipped and nearly intercepted. Luckily for Duke, he didn’t need to take the field again. IU could’ve been sitting pretty if it had forced a second overtime.

What it means: Heartbreak for IU, but there are positives

IU would’ve celebrated a seventh victory like few ever have. The impact of what that win could’ve meant for IU was tremendous. Nobody on the entire roster — much less any recruit — has been alive to see IU win a bowl game. Instead, IU now has to face reality still without a postseason win since 1991. It will have to replace its most productive quarterback in school history in Nate Sudfeld, who went out doing everything he could to will IU to victory today as he did countless other times. But at the very least, the Hoosiers’ brand was improved greatly from Saturday. IU played in an ABC game in late December, and had a finish the drew the attention of the college football world. It might not feel like it right now, but this will create offseason momentum for this program. Kevin Wilson is likely looking at an extension, Saturday could provide a lift in a crucial upcoming five weeks in recruiting and it will likely put some more people in the seats to start next season. Not all was lost on the kick that sailed too high.