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Indiana's Last Act in Dismal 2021 Football  Season is Handing Bucket Back to Purdue

The script remained the same for Indiana on Saturday, scoring an early touchdown but then not doing anything else in an ugly 44-7 loss to Purdue in West Lafayette in the Old Oaken Bucket game. The Hoosiers finished their 2-10 season with eight straight losses.

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — The Old Oaken Bucket is back in West Lafayette after Purdue drubbed Indiana 44-7 on Saturday at Ross-Ade Stadium, mercifully ending Indiana's woefully disappointing season with an eighth-straight loss.

The Hoosiers finished the season with a 2-10 overall record, and were white-washing in the Big Ten, going 0-9 in league games after finishing 6-1 a year earlier. It was the biggest dropoff ever for a one-loss team.

"I've never been through a season this difficult," Indiana coach Tom Allen said. "I've coached for 30 years, and it's been tough."

Redshirt sophomore walk-on quarterback Grant Gremel got the start over true freshman Donaven McCulley, and he looked great on Indiana's first possession, where he completed 6-of-8 passes. 

McCulley entered the game for one snap and did what he does best — run the ball. He found the end zone on a 2-yard running, capping an 11-play, 75-yard drive to tie the score at 7-7. 

But then everything went downhill from there. 

Gremel couldn't find his rhythm again and went a total of 18-for-30 passing for 147 yards. He was also sacked four times and struggled to move the team consistently.

"We just shot ourselves in the foot, really," Gremel said. "It's not what the other team is doing to us, but it's what we do to ourselves. Obviously, it's tough sledding going third-and-13. I mean it's hard to get a first down.

"I try to stay calm and be behind everyone, but there might have been a couple times when I got a little skittish." 

Meanwhile, Purdue quarterback Aiden O'Connell had himself a game. The fifth-year former walk-on from Long Grove, Ill., went 26-for-31 passing for 278 yards and had four touchdown passes. No scheme that Indiana tried using all day worked enough to slow down the Boilermakers, who finished the season with an 8-4 overall record and a 6-3 mark in the Big Ten. 

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They'll be going to a bowl game this winter, while Indiana will be staying home. It's been just the opposite the past two years.

"It was a tough combination trying to get pressure, play enough zone, I thought we needed to play more zone" Allen said. "They're a pretty good offense, one of the better ones we've played."

Indiana tight end Peyton Hendershot was the Hoosiers' leading receiver with six receptions for 51 yards. Allen has always made it a point that getting him the ball is part of the plan, but that didn't work out this time.

"I felt confident in our offense," Hendershot said. "The whole offense felt confident in our offense, but we took two steps forward and three steps back. I don't know where we went wrong."

Indiana entered the season with high expectations, but things fell apart quickly and never got better. It's been tough on star linebacker Micah McFadden, who had seven tackles in the loss.

"When you have that expectation behind you, you've got to work even harder to prove yourself and come out and perform on Saturdays," said McFadden, a senior from Tampa, Fla. "It's easy to take a step back and say, 'oh, we're a good team now. We can chill a little bit,' but it's exactly the opposite." 

He said he's not sure if he will be back or not and will make a decision on possibly pursuing a pro career soon. Allen said that McFadden has contributed so much to the team and he will support him 100 percent in whatever decision he makes.

Now that the season is complete, Allen will also do a full evaluation of his coaching staff.

"That's definitely a part of this process right now," he said. "We've got to be accountable for the performance of the guys.

"We're going to do a tremendous job evaluating where we are and make the changes we need to make and move forward," 

  • LIVE BLOG: It's the last game of the season for the Indiana Hoosiers, and it's a big one. The Old Oaken Bucket currently lives with the Hoosiers, but rival Purdue Boilermakers want it back after last year's game was canceled due to COVID-19. Here's our live blog, where you can catch all the action in real time live from the press box at Ross-Ade Stadium. CLICK HERE.
  • GAMEDAY PREDICTION: Indiana has owned the Old Oaken Bucket for two years, and even all of their out-of-state players understand the importance of the rivalry with Purdue. Can the Hoosiers make one last stand to save this difficult 2021 season? CLICK HERE.
  • HOW TO WATCH: Here are all the details on how to watch Indiana's game with Purdue on Saturday, including gametimes and TV, the latest on the point spread and so much more. CLICK HERE
  • UPDATED BIG TEN SPREADS: Here's the latest on the point spreads of all seven Week 13 games as of Saturday morning. CLICK HERE
  • INDIANA SCHEDULE: Here is Indiana's complete 2021 football schedule, with links to game stories and Tom Brew columns for every game this season. CLICK HERE