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Indiana repeated as Big Ten champion on Saturday, but it wasn't the relatively comfortable ride the Hoosiers experienced last fall.
This year, IU needed everything the team had to shake off a determined Ohio State team for a 38-36 win in the final in Elkhart, IN.
Indiana only trailed during one stretch — late in the first half and early into the second — but the Buckeyes continued to pester the Hoosiers throughout the game.
Indiana opened up with a break through the backline in which Alex Dorrier set up Tyler Sousley, who broke through a tackle and soared in for the try.
Moments later, the Indiana forwards pounded back at the line and Matthew Davey did the honors. That made it 12-0, but Ohio State wouldn't be that far behind the rest of the game. The Buckeyes forwards got a penalty close to the line, tapped, and the pack bulled over for a try. Then, some good pressure opened up a lane for another try, and OSU led 14-12 going into halftime.
The second half began with the Indiana forwards looking for a way through, and lock Dacoda Worth bounced off a tackle and charged through another to put his side up 19-14, with Dorrier good on the conversion. Back came Ohio State, countering on a clearance kick and torching IU for a try in the corner, making it 19-19.
The Hoosiers broke the deadlock when Worth and Sousley combined for Sousley's second. Dorrier was again good on the conversion. Ohio State pressured nicely off the restart, kept Indiana on the back foot, and once again the forwards carried the ball over. The kick was no good to keep IU's lead at 26-24.
Flanker Conner Marsh fended off a tackler close to the line and was over to extend the Hoosiers' advantage to 33-24, but OSU answered again to make it 33-31. After both teams scored once more, Ohio State had a shot at tying the game with the conversion from out wide, but the kick missed left.
While the Big Ten season ended predictably in another title for Indiana, it was also a little bit of a vindication for the conference new format, which produced more tough games for the top three and challenged the rest of the league to get to that level.
Michigan State was the one team looking to bust through and came close, losing 30-21 to Wisconsin in the third/fourth-place playoff. Illinois beat Michigan 33-12 for fifth. Purdue took seventh following a 51-20 win over Minnesota.
In the B-side championship final, Ohio State ran out to a 19-0 lead and held on for a 26-24 victory over Indiana.