Hello from the Old Oaken Bucket Game. It’s the second consecutive year that both Indiana and Purdue need a victory to earn bowl eligibility, but I assume everyone knows that already. Let’s get down to what Indiana has done, and what Indiana needs to do:
Low on Momentum
It’s remarkable how little momentum IU has despite this being a 14-7 game at halftime and the Hoosiers receiving the ball to start the second half. A 56-yard touchdown from David Blough to Rondale Moore will do that, but still. I’m torn on whether Indiana is lucky to be only trailing by 14-7, or if this game should be going in IU’s favor a little more. The Hoosiers have done some good things: standing up Purdue on 4th-and-1 from the IU 10-yard line, giving Stevie Scott 12 carries in the first half, and holding a high-powered Purdue offense to only two first-half touchdowns. But there is very little wind in IU’s sails, despite being the home team, despite winning this game in three of the past four years, etc.
I know that Purdue is likely the more confident and more hopeful football team. But the Hoosiers haven’t really established themselves yet today. Peyton Ramsey has been largely ineffective, and IU really misses the east-and-west threat of Whop Philyor in the slot. I’m rambling here, so I’m going to another topic. But in terms of emotion, Purdue is playing with more of it. On the road. The interception from DT Mike Barwick at the end of the half will help, though, I’m sure. That play was just awesome.
It’s been a pretty odd game, per usual here, but in terms of decision-making and play-calling from offensive coordinator Mike DeBord and head coach Tom Allen. The short kickoffs and out-of-bounds punts are back due to the electric nature of Rondale Moore. It’s understandable. Allen has also passed up two field goal attempts from 47 yards and further — with one resulting in an eight-yard touchdown run from Stevie Scott … but even that came on 4th-and-1. The Hoosiers are 1-2 on 4th down today and Allen is calling an aggressive game.
It’s interesting though. I think we all thought that field goals would not win this game, given Purdue’s proven offense. But at 14-7, field goals could certainly play a role down the stretch. Weird how that happens, huh? I personally agree with Allen coaching aggressively logical, but the play-calling hasn’t really followed suit. Stevie Scott has become almost a sure-thing on short distance downs, but the Hoosiers threw on both 3rd-and-3, and 4th-and-3, on a drive that stalled early — and a drive that began with a 14-yard run from Scott. He’s the key to Indiana winning today, plain and simple. The Hoosiers will need a significantly better offensive performance if they win this thing. The Hoosiers have barely attempted downfield passes today, and I’ve written about that all season. It’s something this offense has to do.
Miscues from a young Indiana team
Apologies for continuing to describe Indiana as young, but they really are. And at times, they show it. The 56-yard touchdown from Blough to Moore showed it, with true freshman safety Devon Matthews falling down on the play, and sophomore Raheem Layne missing a possible tackle and allowing Moore to the ball in the first place. He’s an insanely difficult cover, but that was a microcosm of the naive miscues from the Hoosiers this season.
In terms of other moments that should be filed under the miscue department, kicker Logan Justus missed from 47-yards and Allen Stallings’ roughing the passer penalty on 3rd-down gifted the Boilermakers an eventual touchdown, instead of a field goal try. I know the hit wasn’t much at all, but it was late. And with how college football has been called this season, late is enough to warrant a call like that. Along with more competent and open offense, Indiana can’t afford to shoot itself in the foot. The Hoosiers are, believe it or not, a half away from bowl eligibility and only trail by a score. The first possession of the second half against Michigan was a 3-and-out, so we’ll see if DeBord can draw some plays up. The yards have been there, but Indiana has stalled around midfield for the better part of the day. Talk to you all postgame.