Indiana vs. Duke: Score and Reaction for 2015 Pinstripe Bowl

Daniel Kramer@dkramer_Featured Columnist

Dec 26, 2015; Bronx, NY, USA; Duke Blue Devils quarterback Thomas Sirk (1) runs with the ball on his way to the end-zone for a touchdown against the Indiana Hoosiers during the second quarter in the 2015 New Era Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium.  Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports
Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

The Duke Blue Devils outlasted the Indiana Hoosiers in a 44-41 overtime thriller in the Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium Saturdayin a game that can only be described as the Barnburner in the Bronx. 

After Duke notched a field goal to take a three-point lead on the first drive of overtime, Indiana kicker Griffin Oakes missed a would-be game-tying field goal, sealing the Hoosiers' fate.

Oakes’ kick was so close that the ESPN telecasters thought it would be reviewed. Deadspin provided a replay of the game's final play:

Dr. Saturday of Yahoo Sports elaborated on why it couldn’t be reviewed:

After head coach David Cutcliffe resurrected the program, Saturday’s bowl game was the fourth straight for the Blue Devils, a program high.

But until Saturday, they had failed to end their bowl win drought dating back to the 1961 Cotton Bowl. 

Bruce Feldman of Fox Sports put the result into perspective:

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For a pair of programs that have long been linked to their play on the hardwood, Saturday’s high-scoring shootout seemed appropriate, as JJ Stankevitz of CSNChicago.com highlighted:

But it wasn’t a total fairy tale, as Duke quarterback Thomas Sirk left the game two plays into overtime after suffering what appeared to be a knee injury, per Andrea Adelson of ESPN.com:

Sirk finished 17-of-37 with 163 passing yards, a touchdown and two interceptions and also churned out two scores on the ground along with 155 rushing yards on 20 carries, which set a new Duke benchmark, per ESPN Stats & Info:

Sirk's struggles were well-chronicled throughout. At one point early in the fourth quarter, Laura Keeley of the News & Observer suggested the team should replace him with backup quarterback Parker Boehme:

Oakes missed two critical field-goal attempts late in the contest. In addition to his overtime miss, he failed to connect on a 56-yard attempt at the end of regulation.

On the previous drive, the Hoosiers couldn’t halt the Blue Devils at the goal line with 41 seconds remaining, allowing Duke to score and tie the game at 41-41. Duke converted on two third downs and one fourth down on the drive.

The Hoosiers pulled ahead 41-34 just prior as wide receiver Mitchell Paige bounced back from a costly fumble and scored the go-ahead touchdown with 4:03 remaining on a 25-yard pass from quarterback Nate Sudfeld, who found Paige wide-open after scrambling away from the pocket. 

Indiana was in the red zone and on the brink of making it a two-possession game late in the third quarter but fell short after Simmie Cobbs Jr. dropped an end-around pass from Paige.

As Hoosier State of Mind pointed out, the creative play call fell short because of a lack of execution:

Indiana forced its first three-and-out with 6:19 remaining in the third but fumbled on the return, which led to a 10-yard touchdown pass from Sirk to Braxton Deaver just three plays later. 

Zach Osterman of the Indianapolis Star highlighted how uncharacteristic the muff was, as Paige, a reliable returner, entered Saturday's game averaging 11.7 yards per return with two touchdowns:

Indiana responded two drives later with a seven-play, 65-yard drive that was capped by a 10-yard run by Alex Rodriguez—but not the regular inhabitant of Yankee Stadium, which served as Saturday’s venue. 

Indiana outproduced Duke in total offense, 667-536, yet will have to wait another year to snap a bowl drought that extends to 24 years without a win.

Postgame Reaction

There was great debate in the social arena as to whether the kick was good or not—ironic, given a game that exceeded 1,000 yards of total offense came down to special teams.

Oakes released a statement on Twitter Sunday morning:

Todd Fuhrman of Sportsline.com and Rich Eisen, using MLB umpire Rich Garcia as a metaphor, believed there was little dispute to what the call should have been:

But Indiana head coach Kevin Wilson boldly believed otherwise and also said the miss wasn’t the reason the Hoosiers lost, per Osterman and Stephen Wiseman of the Durham Herald-Sun:

John Harwood of the New York Times added interesting insight on the impact Cutcliffe has made on the Duke program:

Despite his struggles through the air, Sirk was named the game’s co-MVP with Shaun Wilson, per Duke Football:

For Cutcliffe and the Blue Devils, they’ll head into the offseason with another benchmark milestone on the heels of a successful 8-5 season. This program has clearly climbed out of the ACC cellar to become a threat within a Power Five conference.

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