Why are there so many college football bowl games? Did you watch the Duke vs Indiana game? These schools may be both better known for their basketball teams, but that did not stop them from putting on quite a show at a venue much better known for its baseball. Duke and Indiana both moved the chains all game long. Duke sped out to a 10-0 lead right out of the gate after a school-record 85 yard run by Shaun Wilson early in the game. But the Hoosiers answered quickly making it 10-7 midway through the second quarter on Nate Sudfeld’s 27-yard pass to Luke Timien. Then they took a 14-10 lead with a touchdown run from Devine Redding with 1:31 remaining in the half. But Duke quickly answered with another long run, this time it was quarterback Thomas Sirk taking it 73 yards for the score to put Duke back up 17-14 with 1:21 left in the half. But Indiana put together a nice drive to tie it back before the half on a field goal with 13 seconds left.
The second half was more of the same with Duke taking the kick-off and marching down to take a 20-17 lead on a field goal, then watching Indiana take the lead back on their first possession 24-20 on Sudfled’s second TD pass of the game, a three-yarder to Nick Westbrook. Sirk then put Duke back up on a touchdown pass to Braxton Deaver less than two minutes later. Indiana then took the lead before the end of the quarter on a touchdown run from Alex Rodriguez. How can a fan not be entertained by two basketball schools playing a football game at a baseball cathedral and then get treated to a touchdown scored by a kid named Alex Rodriguez, the same name of the host stadium’s most celebrated active star?
Then things really got interesting. After Indiana took a 34-27 lead early in the fourth, Wilson then took the ensuing kickoff back 98 yards to tie the game again at 34-34. Sudfeld then put the Hoosiers back on top with a touchdown pass to Mitchell Paige, who had fumbled a punt earlier to set up a Duke score.
But Sirk led the Blue Devils down the field late to tie it up at 41-41 with 41 seconds to play. You cannot make this up. Sudfeld then got the Hoosiers in position to win the game on a field goal on the final play, but kicker Griffin Oakes pulled it wide left.
In overtime, Sirk went out after hurting his knee on second down. When Duke failed to convert on third down they settled for a field goal to go up 44-41. In a game where neither defense had been very successful, this looked bleak for the Blue Devils. But they stiffened on defense, hold the Hoosiers after a great blitz on third down produced an incomplete pass. Then Oakes was sent out to try to send the game into a second overtime. This time his kick seemed to sail right over the right upright. The ref called it “No Good” and Duke celebrated wildly while the Hoosiers protested loudly. Apparently a field goal cannot be reviewed if it is over the uprights. Who knew?
Duke celebrated a bowl victory for the first time since 1961 and the Hoosiers are still waiting to win a bowl for the first time since 1991.
If you can’t watch a great college football game like that and be thoroughly entertained, then you should check your fan card. These are two teams that few of us watched during the regular season because there was always a bigger game on another station. But in a bowl, when they are the only game on (or one of the few) we all watch. And that, College Football Grinches, is why we have so many bowl games.