It was the right play, but an outcome Indiana could not afford. Michael Penix Jr. decided to keep the ball instead of handing it off, and went scampering down the sideline for an Indiana first down in the third quarter against Maryland on Saturday. Penix read the defense perfectly on this read-option play and was pushed out of bounds inside the Maryland 5-yard line after a 21-yard gain. But something wasn’t right. As Penix slowed down, his leg planted awkwardly, and seconds later he pounded on the turf in pain. Head coach Tom Allen did not have many details to share after the game regarding Penix’s injury, but said it’s a lower-leg injury. Allen said the team will have more information Monday. Man, Michael Penix was in some serious pain after that injury. IU at Wisconsin next week so they need him bad...pic.twitter.com/cwk5OjfJlB — Jim Weber (@JimMWeber) November 28, 2020 https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js Indiana was able to overcome the loss of its starting quarterback to defeat Maryland 27-11. Jack Tuttle replaced Penix, and provided poise to an Indiana roster that was visibly distraught on the sidelines following Penix’s injury. "Whatever position it is, guys have to step up when called upon,” Allen said. Tuttle completed all five of his pass attempts for 31 yards. "Once Mike went down and Tuttle came in, he was poised and confident,” Indiana running back Stevie Scott said. “He can make a play at any given moment. It's him believing in himself and us believing in him." While Tuttle kept the Indiana offense on track Saturday, losing Penix for any amount of time could be devastating for an Indiana team with late-season ambition. Penix is no stranger to injury. Last season during Indiana’s 34-3 win over Northwestern, Penix suffered a right sternoclavicular joint injury, which forced him to have season-ending shoulder surgery. During Indiana’s 2018 loss to Penn State, a torn ACL ended Penix’s season. Because of these past injuries, it has seemed this year that offensive coordinator Nick Sheridan has strayed away from using Penix on designed run plays. And rightly so. No. 12 Indiana is having one of the best seasons in program history, and Penix is an obvious reason why. Even in a loss to Ohio State, Indiana gained national respect largely due to Penix’s 491-yard, five-touchdown performance. An injury to Penix would be the No. 1 way to derail the season Indiana is having, and that is the reality Indiana now faces. However, there are pieces on this roster that can keep Indiana competitive. Before his injury, Penix was largely ineffective versus Maryland, and played his worst half of football as a Hoosier. "[Penix] just seemed really off,” Allen said. "Don't really know the reason why, for sure, but just missing guys." Penix’s day ended completing just six of his 19 pass attempts for 84 yards. Thirty-seven of these yards came on an underthrown pass to Miles Marshall, who made an impressive adjustment to the ball to haul it in. Without Penix, Indiana does not have the star-power to keep pace with teams like Ohio State. But strengths such as Indiana’s secondary have proven to translate no matter the opponent. The Hoosier defensive backs intercepted Taulia Tagovailoa three times Saturday, and now lead the nation in interceptions. "It's not by chance,” Allen said of Indiana’s ability to create takeaways. “I assure you that. Just watch the film. Talk to the quarterbacks that play us. They'll let you know." Tight coverage from the secondary has also allowed the Indiana defensive line to take a big step forward this year. Throughout Saturday's game, Tagovailoa was forced to hold the ball for extended periods of time simply because no one was open. This allowed the Indiana front seven to get pressure on the quarterback, resulting in three sacks and seven quarterback hurries. Tagovailoa threw 19 incomplete passes, and was rarely able to build consistent drives. “[Tagovailoa] was a one-read player,” Indiana cornerback Tiawan Mullen said. “Wherever he looked, that was the way he was gonna throw the ball." Indiana took another step forward Saturday, establishing a dominant run game for the first time all season. Allen said he was proud of the offensive line’s performance Saturday because a big challenge this week in practice was running the ball effectively. Scott kept up his red-zone efficiency, scoring three touchdowns on 24 carries for 80 yards. Sampson James was inactive, which allowed for a breakout performance from Tim Baldwin Jr. The freshman carried the ball 16 times and gained 106 yards. "Stevie, Sampson, and David (Ellis) have helped me a lot,” Baldwin said. “It took me a while to get patience. Shout out to the O-line, they blocked their tails off today." Sheridan also added an interesting wrinkle to the Indiana offense, running a number of plays out of the wildcat formation. Scott and Ellis were most prominently featured in this role that Maryland did not see coming. Ellis rushed five times for 21 yards and caught two passes for nine yards. Allen said these direct-snap wildcat plays were installed this week, specifically for this game. While these numbers don’t jump off the page, adding a level of creativity to an area that had been Indiana’s biggest weakness was a welcome addition. The Hoosiers outgained Maryland 234 to 59 on the ground, which was the largest margin of the season in Indiana’s favor in this category. With this win, Indiana moves to 5-1 on the season. This is the first time since 1987-88 that Indiana has posted consecutive winning records in conference play. The Hoosiers have a difficult test next weekend in Madison as a matchup with the No. 16 Wisconsin Badgers awaits. The biggest question mark leading up to this game will be Penix's health. Without Penix, Indiana’s ceiling for success is significantly lowered, but do not tell that to the Hoosiers. "I feel like we're still breaking through," Scott said. "We have to finish the season strong. We've got to keep striving for greatness at the end of the day."
Use the fields below to perform an advanced search of The Hoosier Network's archives. This will return articles, images, and multimedia relevant to your query.
155 items found for your search. If no results were found please broaden your search.
No. 12 Indiana will have an opportunity to bounce back Saturday when it welcomes the Maryland Terrapins to Bloomington. After a 4-0 start that brought attention on a national landscape, the Hoosiers got their first taste of defeat versus Ohio State last week. Indiana faced a 35-7 deficit versus the Buckeyes, but incredible resilience and belief resulted in a narrow 42-35 Ohio State victory. Kickoff is scheduled for noon ET and can be seen on ESPN2. The Hoosiers escaped College Park with a 34-28 victory last season, and opened as 14-point favorites for Saturday’s matchup. Let’s get into three major storylines to follow this weekend. Opportunity for Stevie Scott, Sampson James Offensive coordinator Nick Sheridan has built an explosive offense at Indiana this year, but the majority of the Hoosiers’ success has come through the air by way of Michael Penix Jr., Ty Fryfogle and Whop Philyor. It is unlikely that Sheridan will shy away from this aerial attack, but Indiana could have its best chance of the season to establish a strong run game. Entering this matchup, Indiana ranks 13th in the Big Ten in both yards per carry and rushing yards per game. Indiana running back Stevie Scott has been a productive weapon in the red zone, punching in five touchdowns, but hasn’t found much success otherwise. [embed]https://twitter.com/TheHoosierNet/status/1320114598192742400?s=20[/embed] Scott is averaging 3.4 yards per carry on 95 rushes this season, and complementary back Sampson James ranks just below at 3.2 yards per carry. Indiana has struggled to find consistent success on the ground, and issues on the offensive line are a big reason for this. Left tackle Caleb Jones has missed Indiana’s past two games, and last week was guard Mike Katic’s first return to action after being sidelined for multiple weeks. However, Saturday’s game presents a chance for Indiana to work out some of these flaws. Maryland has given up the most rushing yards per game among Big Ten teams this season. The Terrapins also rank first in yards allowed per carry. Scott and James have showed in their careers at Indiana to be talented backs, and this matchup is the perfect time for the two to get back on track. Another mobile QB This has been a common theme for Indiana’s defensive gameplan so far and it is no different this week. The Hoosier defense has faced Sean Clifford, Noah Vedral, Joe Milton and Justin Fields, all of whom are considered mobile quarterbacks. Indiana struggled to contain Clifford in the first game of the year, but had seen steady improvement stopping the quarterback run until last week. Fields rushed 15 times for 78 yards and one touchdown versus Indiana last week. Maryland quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa is not on the same level as the future first-round pick Fields, but is a serious threat with his feet. Tagovailoa is the younger brother of Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, and has shown great potential in his short time at Maryland after transferring from Alabama. [embed]https://twitter.com/CBSSports/status/1322326146025955331?s=20[/embed] Tagovailoa has rushed 18 times for 56 yards and two touchdowns. His most memorable run came on Oct. 30 versus Minnesota when Tagovailoa ran for a 39-yard touchdown. But Tagovailoa is perhaps more dangerous when extending plays with his feet in passing situations. Tagovailoa’s speed and agility allow him to slip past pass rushers to free himself for passes down the field. He has thrown for 776 yards and six touchdowns this year. Tagovailoa is not afraid to go for the big play, and while this has worked in wins over Minnesota and Penn State, it was Maryland’s biggest downfall in its 43-3 loss to Northwestern. In this game, Tagovailoa threw three interceptions and was just 14-for-25 on pass attempts. Maryland goes as Tagovailoa goes, and he is faced with his biggest challenge of the season against an Indiana secondary that has intercepted 13 passes this season. Rest versus rust Due to COVID-19 cancellations, Maryland has only played three games this season. The Terrapins were demoralized week one by way of a 43-3 loss to Northwestern. But Maryland rebounded nicely in each of its next two games, defeating Minnesota 45-44 and earning a 35-19 statement win versus Penn State. Because of these cancellations, Maryland has not taken the field since Nov. 7. While this has given the Terrapins plenty of time to prepare for Indiana, it could leave some rust to be shaken off on Saturday. Tagovailoa has also played just six games in his college career. Indiana got a taste of how top-tier college football is played last week versus Ohio State, which could be a big advantage against a team that has had its past two games cancelled. Oddly enough, Maryland looks like it could be the third best team in the Big Ten East. But then again, no one expected Indiana to be the clear-cut second best team in the division. Tagovailoa will look to regain the chemistry he built with fellow young and talented skill-position players during the first three weeks. Two of his favorite targets have been freshman Rakim Jarrett and sophomore Jeshaun Jones, who have developed quickly by learning from leading receiver junior Dontay Demus Jr. While the Terrapins may be inexperienced at other skill positions, running back Jake Funk will not be intimidated by the moment. The senior running back has appeared in 31 games dating back to 2016. An ACL tear and other injuries have hindered his ability to put together a complete season, but Funk is experiencing a breakout senior campaign. Funk has rushed 43 times for 336 yards and two touchdowns, which is good for 7.8 yards per carry. The Indiana defensive line has shut running games down this season, versus Michigan and Michigan State, but will need a strong performance to contain Funk. The Hoosiers gained the respect of teams around the nation with its close loss to Ohio State last week, and can take take serious command of second place in the Big Ten East with a win over Maryland this week.
Indiana's wide receiving corps has set records this year. But how does it compare to past groups at IU?
Indiana punted four times and turned the ball over on downs once in the first quarter versus Ohio State. Slow starts have become a theme in many of Indiana’s games this season, but with the weapons at Michael Penix Jr.’s disposal, it’s hard to keep the Hoosier offense down for too long. Early on in the second quarter, Penix dropped back to pass and delivered a strike to sophomore receiver Miles Marshall. Marshall was nearly able to get past his defender for a touchdown, but the 68-yard reception showed a sign of life from the Indiana offense. “We came out kind of slow so I think that kickstarted the offense,” Marshall said. “I know there were a lot of guys on the sideline saying, ‘We needed that,’ and I’m really mad because I didn’t score, but it’s all right.” Marshall said Penix’s ability to look down the field, while also noticing the pass rush and stepping up in the pocket to deliver a laser throws, makes the Hoosiers trust Penix in any situation. “He’s just an NFL quarterback,” Marshall said. “It’s just amazing to see.” Penix is a big reason for Indiana’s success this season, but it is important to not overlook the weapons he has at his disposal. Whop Philyor is coming off a 1,002-yard junior season and has picked up where he left off. Philyor’s speed and agility immediately stand out when watching him play. Because of this, Indiana is able to use him in short passing situations like screens and slants, but also take shots over the top of the defense to create explosive plays. This versatility has been on display in two standout performances for Philyor. In Indiana’s win over Rutgers, Philyor made the most of each reception, hauling in five catches for 137 yards. Philyor converted a few key third downs for Indiana in its 38-21 win over Michigan, catching 11 passes for 79 yards. Going into the season, Philyor was viewed as the team’s No. 1 option, but Ty Fryfogle has emerged to challenge Philyor as the team’s best receiver.
Michael Penix Jr. always looks for the big play. It’s just how he is built. After a missed Ohio State field goal with a minute left in the third quarter, Indiana took over with a chance to make it a one-score game. Penix saw David Ellis burning down the sideline, two steps past his man, and put the ball where it needed to be. But the outstretched arms of Ellis couldn’t haul in the deep ball. The ball passed through Ellis’s fingers, and with this missed opportunity, so did the game’s momentum. On the very next play, Penix looked to convert another first down and add to his career-high 491 passing yards. His pass to Miles Marshall was underthrown and before Indiana knew it, Shaun Wade intercepted the ball and took the game’s momentum with him 36 yards for pick-six.
A 4-0 record with wins over big-time programs has skyrocketed Indiana to the No. 9 ranking in the country, but its biggest test of the season lies ahead on Nov. 21. The Hoosiers have come close in the past, losing by one touchdown in 2015 and trailing by nine entering the fourth quarter in 2018, but haven’t beaten the Buckeyes since a 41-7 blowout in 1988. However, the last time Ohio State saw a number in front of Indiana’s name was in 1990 when the two sides played to a 27-27 tie. Can the Hoosiers finally break through to beat Ohio State, or have Indiana’s wins been misleading due to down years from its opponents? These three matchups will go a long way in determining the outcome of Saturday’s Top-10 matchup.
When Micah McFadden was a senior at Plant High School in Tampa, Florida, Tom Allen made a recruiting pitch that some players might have laughed at. Allen told McFadden that he was going to build Indiana into a team that competes for Big Ten championships. The Hoosiers were coming off a 6-7 season in 2016, and when McFadden was a senior in high school in 2017, the Hoosiers endured a 5-7 season with its only wins coming against Virginia, Georgia Southern, Charleston Southern, Illinois and Rutgers. How could any player be convinced that Allen was going to turn around the program with the most losses in FBS history within the short four seasons they would be there? Well, maybe they had never heard a Tom Allen speech. McFadden said Allen talked about the excitement surrounding the upcoming recruiting class, and that he felt like Allen was true from the start. But looking at the future of the team on paper wasn’t the only way Allen was able to convince McFadden to play for the Hoosiers. For McFadden, it was as simple as the look in Allen’s eye when the two discussed the future. “He was just so enthusiastic about the change that was going on in this program,” McFadden said. “You could just see it in his eyes and the way that he talked. It was just so convincing, and I think that just led me to believe in him and believe in the program and the change that was going on.” Many Indiana fans might not have believed Tom Allen’s vision for the program when he was named the head coach in 2016. Similarly, a lot of Power Five schools didn’t believe McFadden could lead a defense when he was in high school. McFadden was ranked as the No. 93 outside linebacker nationally by ESPN and didn’t play varsity football until his junior year. McFadden said he thinks college coaches thought he wasn’t fast enough or big enough to play at a high level. However, McFadden had a group of coaches in high school constantly in his ear about how good he could be if he put in the necessary work. “All of the JV coaches were telling me, ‘You’re going to be a beast here next year,’” McFadden said. “Even personally if I didn’t always see it or wholeheartedly believe it, I could always tell that these guys always believed in me and that my talent could get me on the field and go perform at a high level.” And they were right. McFadden was named to the All-State First Team in Florida in his junior season where Plant High School reached the 2016 7A state championship game. He followed up a breakout junior year campaign by being named the 2017 Florida Athletic Coaches Association Player of the Year as a senior. McFadden set a program record with 211 tackles, and owns the school’s single-game tackles record with 23. As a senior, McFadden racked up seven sacks, two interceptions, two fumble recoveries and even rushed for four touchdowns. He credits a lot of his development in high school to the influence of his older brother Luke. When Micah was a freshman in high school, Luke was a senior. Micah said seeing how hard Luke worked and played, as well as his leadership qualities, gave him someone to follow and compete with in pursuit of playing college football. Luke last played wide receiver at Johns Hopkins University as a senior during the 2017 season, and was a big reason Micah worked hard to reach his goals in high school. “He was always pushing me, encouraging me,” Micah said. “Telling me, ‘You can be as good as you want to be, you have just go to work and just chase your dream if that is what you want to do you.’” As a high schooler, McFadden said he wasn’t always going to the big-time camps with college coaches in attendance. A three-star recruit according to the 247Sports Composite rankings, McFadden received offers from Indiana, Boston College, Massachusetts, South Dakota and Southern Mississippi. He said a quality he believes coaches missed out on was his nose for the ball. McFadden said this can be easy for coaches to miss at camps, but by watching McFadden’s high school game film, Allen did not miss this aspect of McFadden’s game. “Coach Allen definitely knew that and saw that when he recruited me and told me that when I came up here on visits and stuff,” McFadden said. “So he definitely saw it but it’s easy to miss out on things like that.” Gaining the commitment of McFadden was huge for Allen’s ability to create a recruiting pipeline from Florida, or more specifically Tampa, to Bloomington. McFadden attended the same high school as current teammates Thomas Allen, Juwan Burgess and Whop Philyor. McFadden is one of 24 current Hoosiers who attended high school in the state of Florida. Creating this pipeline and building relationships with players in Florida has been a huge reason for Indiana’s turnaround. McFadden said when he was in high school, seeing other players around him commit to Indiana, especially Michael Penix Jr., was a reason he chose Indiana. McFadden said Allen was able to gain the commitment of these Florida players by finding guys who maybe didn’t have the biggest offers, but who Allen could tell were hard workers. “I think a lot of us were encouraged to see how many Florida guys were in our class that were coming here,” McFadden said. “...It was really exciting and definitely encouraged me to come up to Indiana and play hard for him.” When McFadden arrived, the Indiana defense was young and inexperienced, but as it grew and matured, McFadden grew with it. In McFadden’s 2018 freshman season, the Hoosiers ranked 10th in the conference in both rushing and passing defense. While this group was forced to learn on the fly and play in important games as underclassmen, this has ultimately helped grow Indiana football into what it is today. Indiana is now ranked third in rush defense and fourth in pass defense amongst Big Ten teams in 2020. [embed]https://twitter.com/IndianaOnBTN/status/1322655793703907328?s=20[/embed] McFadden appeared in nine games as a freshman and 13 as a sophomore. Looking back at his early years as a Hoosier, McFadden said he used to just run around making plays and trying to find the ball. Now as a junior, McFadden leads the team with 30 total tackles and is tied for second on the team with two sacks. McFadden said experience and communication have led to him playing with the confidence to fly around the field. “Being able to not just understand what I am doing in my position, but also understand the coverage or the front and understanding other people’s jobs and responsibilities has really helped me and helped the people around me grow, too,” McFadden said. Flash forward three seasons and Indiana is ranked No. 9 in the country with a 4-0 record and wins over Penn State, Rutgers, Michigan and Michigan State. While the Penix-led Indiana offense has produced exciting moments, it has largely been inconsistent this season. The Indiana defense, led by McFadden at linebacker, has been the stronger side for the Hoosiers and is a main reason for the team’s 4-0 record. In the Hoosiers dominant 24-0 win over Michigan State on Nov. 14, McFadden totaled a career-high three sacks. McFadden said now that he and his teammates have gained experience in their first few seasons with the program, the defense is now able to implement creative schemes and coverages. [embed]https://twitter.com/IndianaOnBTN/status/1327734554308829185?s=20[/embed] “Guys are locked in,” McFadden said. “They know exactly what they have on each play, but it’s also the coaches…setting up defenses that are maybe difficult to pick up, blitzes that are difficult to pick up, coverages that are hard to read.” One of the biggest games in program history lies ahead this weekend as Indiana travels to Ohio State to play the No. 3 Buckeyes. McFadden recognized the explosive quarterback leading Ohio State in Justin Fields and the weapons at his disposal, but said something as simple as executing fundamentals will be key in order for Indiana to pull off the upset. Allen has constantly talked about approaching each week with a 1-0 mindset. McFadden adheres to this belief, and said Indiana is preparing and attacking each week like the one before. “Just play lights out, play fast, physical and just play that Indiana football that we always talk about,” McFadden said. This game also represents the chance to take a major step to achieve what Allen preached to McFadden as a high schooler: a Big Ten championship.
The Old Brass Spittoon will be up for grabs for the 67th time this weekend, as Indiana goes on the road to face Michigan State. Kickoff is scheduled for noon on Nov. 14 from Spartan Stadium in East Lansing, Michigan. Indiana is looking to improve upon its undefeated record and become 4-0 in Big Ten play for the first time since 1987. Let’s preview the matchup.
Darren Hiller, run game coordinator and offensive line coach for Indiana, ended four of his answers the same way in Wednesday’s press conference. “We have got to keep grinding,” Hiller said. Hiller praised the highs and recognized the lows of this Indiana offensive line through three games. He said he has seen improvement each week the Hoosiers take the field, but knows there are still plenty of ways to get better. And to keep grinding. “We are not even close to where we need to be,” Hiller said. “Every single day is a challenge to be better and be better as a unit.” Even when head coach Tom Allen approached Hiller last Sunday to say "great job" after the Nov. 7 victory over Michigan, Hiller said there are still a lot of things this offensive line has to get done. It is this mentality used by Hiller, as well as defensive line coach Kevin Peoples, that has aided in the steady improvement seen on both lines. In Indiana’s 38-21 win over then-No. 23 Michigan, the Hoosiers dominated the trenches. Indiana rushed for 118 yards while holding Michigan to just 13 rushing yards on 18 carries. “There’s a lot of things to be excited about,” Kane Wommack, defensive coordinator, said. “When you can eliminate somebody’s run game that is a big deal, and when you can get off the field on third downs and [force] seven three-and-outs those things are great.” Conversely, the duo of Stevie Scott and Sampson James kept the Hoosiers balanced, even in a game where Michael Penix Jr. attempted 50 passes. Scott led the way with 24 carries, 97 yards and two touchdowns. James, the former four-star recruit, has done well in a relief role for Scott this year, rushing eight times for 25 yards versus the Wolverines. Going into the Michigan game, the Indiana offensive line was tasked with blocking two of the best pass rushers in the Big Ten. Kwity Paye and Aidan Hutchinson both project to go in the early rounds of the 2021 NFL Draft, but each were held without a sack and combined for just one tackle for loss and one quarterback hurry versus the Hoosiers.
Indiana has beaten Michigan before, but Indiana has never demoralized Michigan like it did Saturday. The Hoosiers defense forced three-and-outs on Michigan’s first two possessions, and the Indiana offense played its most complete game with Michael Penix Jr. under center. For cornerback Reese Taylor, this was cause for a celebration. “As soon as we stepped foot in the locker room, it was a party,” Taylor said. “We just beat Michigan. I don’t know when the last time was we beat Michigan.” With this 38-21 win, Indiana claimed its first win over the Wolverines since Oct. 24 of 1987. This marks Indiana’s second top-25 win of the season, and no matter how you look at it, the Hoosiers were dominant from the opening kickoff. "I was determined we were finally going to get these guys,” head coach Tom Allen said. “It's perseverance, grit, from everybody in this program." To open the game, Penix constantly exploited a weak Michigan secondary. In the first half alone, Penix completed 22 of 32 attempts for 234 yards and three touchdowns. It was clear offensive coordinator Nick Sheridan was targeting the Michigan defensive backs, and there was no reason not to. While Penix didn’t have great performances in the team’s first two games, Allen said he had long seen the talent Penix showed Saturday. “Once [Penix] got here, we began to realize this kid’s got some things to him that other kids don’t have,” Allen said. But perhaps the most telling drive of the game came on Indiana’s final possession of the first half. Indiana started the drive with a run and a screen pass to Sampson James. Penix mixed in an 18-yard completion to Miles Marshall and a deep ball to Ty Fryfogle for 35 yards. This was the first drive where Indiana was truly able to establish the run, after a 10-yard run from Stevie Scott put the Hoosiers in the red zone. Two more James and Scott runs got the Hoosiers close, and set up Sheridan for the perfect play call. Penix hurried the Hoosiers to the line, faked the hand-off to Scott and found a wide-open Peyton Hendershot standing in the end zone. Indiana had shredded Michigan through the air so much early on that the Michigan defense wasn’t ready for a stronger running attack, and didn’t know how to react to play-action. This touchdown put the Hoosiers up 24-7, and after a defensive stop, the Hoosiers had all of the momentum in the world going into halftime. "That was just coach Sheridan making great calls,” Penix said. “We were reading the defense and he called what he felt fit, and it was working." Not only did the Indiana offense have its best, most complete performance of the season, but it made the necessary improvements in order to prove its legitimacy to the rest of the college football world. Penix’s two favorite targets had big days, too. Fryfogle caught seven passes for 142 yards and a touchdown, and Whop Philyor hauled in 11 passes for 79 yards. The duo helped Indiana improve upon a big area of struggle for the Indiana offense this year. In the first two games, Indiana converted on third down just 25 percent of the time, which was fifth-worst in college football and last in the Big Ten before today’s games. Indiana bucked this trend by converting on five of eight third down tries in the first half and nine of 18 for the game. On the other side of the ball, Indiana’s defense was stout on third down, forcing Michigan to convert just three of 11 attempts. This success on third down for the Hoosiers also allowed them to sustain long drives to wear down the Michigan defense. Indiana put together five drives of 10 plays or more, which not only ran out the clock, but kept a struggling Michigan defense on its heels all game long. After mainly finding success through the air in the first half, Indiana was able to use the run game strategically by recognizing when the Michigan defense was tired. Scott finished the game with 24 carries, 97 yards and two touchdowns. Sampson James again made the most of his opportunity in a complementary role, rushing eight times for 25 yards.
One of the worst losses of the Jim Harbaugh era came last week in Michigan’s 27-24 downfall to Michigan State. After a 2-0 start for Indiana with a breakthrough win over Penn State, the two programs seem to be on opposite trajectories this year. If the first two weeks of the Big Ten college football season were all that mattered, one could make a great case for Indiana to win this game, but history says otherwise. Indiana trails 59-9 in the all-time series and has lost 24 straight contests versus Michigan dating back to 1987. A noon kickoff could help Indiana catch the Wolverines sleeping, but Michigan has had success in situations similar to this weekend. Under Harbaugh, Michigan is 5-0 following their first loss, out-scoring opponents 183-40. So, can Indiana really take down no. 23 Michigan and claim its second top 25-win of the season? Here are the three biggest questions surrounding Indiana’s ability to defeat the Wolverines on Nov. 7.
Noah Vedral’s feet were swept out from under him before he could realize what happened. One cut, blazing speed and a perfectly-timed dive was the formula for Indiana cornerback Tiawan Mullen’s second sack of the day on Rutgers quarterback Vedral. Two words Indiana defensive coordinator Kane Wommack used to describe Mullen were crafty and explosive. But after a two-and-a-half-sack, seven-tackle performance from Mullen in Indiana’s 37-21 win over Rutgers, the positive qualities don’t stop there. “He blitzes about two inches off the ground so he is hard to pick up,” Wommack said. “That can always be a difficult thing as well when you play low and fast and you find creative ways to get in the backfield.” It's early, but Tiawan Mullen already has two sacks. The second one is something to see, too. ?@Mullen_7era | @IndianaFootball pic.twitter.com/wHwyQDKqKz — Big Ten Network (@BigTenNetwork) October 31, 2020 https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js After an ACL injury sidelined starting husky Marcelino Ball for the entire 2020 season, questions surrounded the Indiana secondary. It has been a by-committee effort to fill this position for most of the season, but Mullen shined on Saturday when used in this role. Wommack said this hybrid safety-linebacker position allows him to involve Mullen more with the running game and be more creative with the potential First-Team All-Big Ten player. Mullen’s traditional position is cornerback, but Wommack’s creativity allows Mullen to frustrate the opposing quarterback in another way besides pass coverage. “You see how much we have brought those DBs. That’s what we do. We are an aggressive defense,” head coach Tom Allen said. “Those guys give us confidence to make those calls. It’s a big part of our defense, a talented group and there are many of them there.” Defensive backs outshine big names on offense Going into the season, every Indiana fan knew about the dangerous offensive trio of Michael Penix Jr., Stevie Scott and Whop Philyor, and rightly so. The three were each named to the Maxwell Award Watch List, an award given to the College Player of the Year. Penix Jr. made the game-winning play versus Penn State and Philyor had 137 receiving yards against Rutgers, but the Indiana defense, and more specifically the secondary, is a big reason Indiana is 2-0 to start the season. Indiana shares first place in the Big Ten in takeaway margin at plus four, is second in INTs with five and is tied for third in takeaways with six. Safety Jamar Johnson was named co-Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week after totaling 10 tackles, one interception and a forced fumble versus Penn State. A career-high 10 tackles and one interception later and @IndianaFootball's Jamar Johnson has earned co-Defensive Player of the Week honors!@IUHoosiers // #LEO pic.twitter.com/KHPEyrxPFY — Indiana On BTN (@IndianaOnBTN) October 26, 2020 https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js Allen has given the defensive backs plenty of praise, as well. After the Rutgers victory, Allen named Jaylin Williams the team’s defensive player of the game for his interception and three tackles. Allen also said he thought Johnson and cornerback Reese Taylor played their best games as Hoosiers against Rutgers. Devon Matthews, who Allen calls “Monster,” also received compliments from his head coach for his physicality, coverage and open-field tackling. Vedral was a threat to run on nearly every play, but that did not fluster the Indiana defensive backs, Allen said. Rutgers head coach Greg Schiano tried to catch the Indiana defense sleeping with multiple reverse plays, pre-snap motions, trick plays and playing two quarterbacks at once, but this, too, wasn’t enough to confuse the Indiana secondary. “You can get your eyes in the wrong place really fast if you’re not careful and not locked in,” Allen said. “That’s where I thought our guys...did a really good job in the back end of being disciplined and being able to play multiple things.” It starts with teaching An interesting aspect of the way the Indiana defense run starts with the way it is taught by Wommack. He explained that instead of teaching each individual what to do in each coverage, he teaches them what the team is trying to accomplish within the concept of a specific coverage. For example, instead of teaching the free safety only his individual responsibilities in Cover Two, Wommack stresses the importance of teaching the issues the team faces within each type of coverage. Wommack highlights the Indiana secondary’s ability to play man-to-man defense as a main reason for its success versus Rutgers, especially on third down. When the defensive backs can play man coverage successfully, this limits the opposing quarterback’s passing options and gives the pass rushers more time to get the quarterback. “When we played man we were on them and we stayed on them,” Wommack said. "To me a lot of credit to the takeaways we got, and certainly the sacks and the simple pressure that we got on the quarterback pretty much all game, is a credit to what those guys are doing on the back end.” Next, Wommack teaches situational philosophy — how the team will defend third-and-short compared to first-and-10. These aspects of Indiana’s defense are taught mainly in the offseason, which means Wommack is now focused on teaching offensive recognition. For Wommack, this is important because if the defense can anticipate the situation, reacting even one second quicker than normal can lead to a big stop. The bottom line, however, is that executing this philosophy is not possible without communication. “Certainly they are gifted, but their skill is really honed in right now,” Wommack said. “They are doing a good job of communicating with each other off of rubs and picks and those things as well.” While the Indiana defensive backs have been the strength of Indiana’s team in its first two games of the season, Wommack knows there is no time to feel comfortable. “To me there is a fine line of, you want to acknowledge things you do well and praise the things you have done well to this point, and yet be relentless in the detail of fixing things that need to be fixed," Wommack said. This QB can run, too? In each of its first two games, Indiana has faced a quarterback who can make plays with his feet. Against Penn State, the Hoosier defense struggled to contain the run of Sean Clifford, allowing him to rush 17 times for 119 yards and a touchdown. Indiana was more successful versus Rutgers, limiting Vedral to just 16 yards on 14 carries, but the threat of the quarterback run is present yet again versus Michigan and quarterback Joe Milton. Wommack described Milton as a big body who can make all of the throws on the field, but also has dual-threat ability. Wommack said the name of the game nowadays is quarterbacks who can extend plays with their feet, which makes this area of the game something Indiana as grown accustomed to. In last week’s loss to Michigan State, Milton completed 32 of 51 attempts for 300 yards. He was also the team’s leading rusher, totaling 59 yards on 12 carries. While Milton poses a threat for the Indiana secondary in a variety of ways, there is one thing Wommack said is important to accomplish versus Milton. “If you can get pressure on him,” Wommack said. “That’s where you have situations like what we had the last couple of weeks here where we have forced some poor throws and create takeaways and sacks off that.”
Two negative plays and an incomplete pass. The inaccuracy and slow start on the first drive versus Rutgers on Saturday told the same story as the week one performance for Michael Penix Jr. Next possession, another three and out. Maybe this Indiana offense wasn’t as high-powered as it looks on paper. But one possession in the third quarter showed the true potential of Penix Jr. and this Indiana offense. Following a Rutgers touchdown, Penix Jr. and the Hoosiers took over possession with just over five minutes remaining in the third quarter. Penix Jr. would go on to complete four passes in a row and draw two defensive pass interference calls. A 20-yard catch by Ty Fryfogle and a 17-yard reception from Javon Swinton was capped off by a 2-yard Peyton Hendershot touchdown gave Indiana a 30-15 lead. Crisp, on-time passes from Penix Jr. made this possession his best of the season. Penix Jr. followed up a 3-for-10 start was followed up by completions on 11 of his next 13 passes. Penix Jr. found his rhythm, and Indiana never looked back, defeating Rutgers 37-21. “It's all finally coming together,” Hendershot said. “I feel that this team is very special. If we continue to focus, we will be a very good team." Penix Jr. finished the game completing 17 of 26 passes for 238 yards and three touchdowns. Proving to be a threat on the ground yet again, Penix Jr. rushed six times for 20 yards and a touchdown. "Just complete execution from the whole offensive side of the ball,” Penix Jr. said. “(Offensive Coordinator Nick) Sheridan called a great game. All we did is have to execute, and that's what we did today." With the win, Indiana moves to 2-0 on the season and claims its first win as a top-20 team since 1988. This is also Indiana’s first 2-0 Big Ten start since 1991.
After an emotional 36-35 win over no. 8 Penn State on Oct. 24, the Indiana Hoosiers entered the AP Top 25 poll at No. 17. This is Indiana’s highest ranking since Nov. 2, 1993, when the Hoosiers also came in at No. 17. Next up is a program that has finished last in the Big Ten East in three of the past four seasons. A trip to Piscataway to face the Rutgers Scarlet Knights can usually be pencilled in as a win, but the return of head coach Greg Schiano makes this week’s matchup anything but a pushover. Rutgers defeated Michigan State 38-27 on Oct. 24, marking the Scarlet Knights’ first 1-0 start in the Big Ten since joining the conference. Let’s breakdown Saturday’s upcoming matchup. Learning from experience against familiar face at quarterback Head coach Tom Allen called Indiana’s 38-31 victory over Nebraska in 2019 a “breakthrough.” The Hoosiers aren’t headed back to Lincoln this year, but a familiar face will be on the other side, but this time in a Rutgers uniform. Former Nebraska quarterback Noah Vedral is now the starter for Rutgers after transferring from Nebraska at the end of last season. Vedral started the Cornhuskers’ game versus Indiana last year and finished 14-for-16 with 201 yards through the air. Vedral left the game in the second quarter with a mild injury but returned to the game for Nebraska’s final drive. While Vedral is now on a different team, under a new head coach and running a different system, the Indiana defense should benefit from its experience against Vedral just a year ago. In Rutgers’ season opener versus Michigan State, Vedral was 18-for-29 with 169 yards, one touchdown and one interception. Last week, Indiana’s defense struggled to contain the run of Penn State quarterback Sean Clifford, which will be an important area of focus this week. Versus Michigan State, Vedral rushed nine times for 24 yards and a touchdown. Winning the turnover battle featuring two defensive stars Last week, Indiana junior safety Jamar Johnson was named Big Ten co-Defensive Player of the Week alongside Rutgers linebacker Olakunle Fatukasi. Johnson racked up a career-high 10 tackles versus Penn State and also had two timely takeaways. Johnson intercepted Clifford deep in Penn State territory, which later led to a Stevie Scott touchdown to give Indiana a 17-7 lead. Johnson later forced a fumble inside the Indiana 10-yard line to stop Penn State’s scoring attack. In Johnson’s past three games, he has intercepted three passes and forced three fumbles. On the other side, Fatukasi leads a Rutgers defense that forced seven turnovers versus Michigan State. Fatukasi matched Johnson with 10 tackles in the season opener, and also recovered two fumbles and forced one. The winner of Saturday’s matchup could come down to the turnover battle, and Johnson and Fatukasi are candidates to lead their defenses in this category. Johnson will have to keep an eye on a pair of Rutgers upperclassmen receivers Bo Melton and Aron Cruickshank, who led the Scarlet Knights last week with 50 and 43 receiving yards, respectively. For Fatukasi, stopping the run game of Stevie Scott, who punched in two touchdowns for Indiana versus Penn State, will be crucial. Staying focused as Schiano produces buzz Rutgers has struggled greatly to win games in the Big Ten, but that stopped immediately after bringing back former head coach Greg Schiano. With its win over Michigan State, Rutgers snapped a 21-game Big Ten losing streak. Schiano coached Rutgers from 2001-2011 and had a record of 68-67 in that time. Schiano left Rutgers for the NFL where he coached the Tampa Buccaneers to a 11-21 record in two seasons. He returned to Piscataway this season and excited the Scarlet Knight faithful after agreeing to an 8-year, $32 million contract. While Michigan State is undergoing huge roster turnover and is in the first year under head coach Mel Tucker, any Big Ten win for Rutgers is a sign that things are moving in the right direction. In his first stint with Rutgers, Schiano popularized the phrase “keep chopping” during the 2006 season when Rutgers finished 12th in the final AP poll, setting a school record. This week, Schiano used that same phrase to describe the team’s mindset as it faces a daunting nine-game Big Ten schedule. “You know, there’s going to be highs. There’s going to be lows,” Schiano said Monday. "We have to be able to continue to ... our word is ‘chop.’ You have to be able to chop and not get distracted by the bombs that are going off on your right or your left." For the Hoosiers, Allen is a fan of catch phrases as well, making “focus” Indiana’s word of the week. It will be crucial for Indiana to not dwell on the program’s first top 10 victory since 1987. This Rutgers team is not of the same caliber as years past, making “focus” a perfect word as Indiana aims for a 2-0 start to the season.
Trailing by eight points with less than two minutes remaining in regulation, Indiana quarterback Michael Penix Jr. looked to a freshman wide receiver to save the game. Javon Swinton hauled in two crucial catches for 23 yards on consecutive plays as the Hoosiers breached Penn State territory and eventually drove to score and force overtime in Saturday's 36-35 win over the No. 8 Nittany Lions. “I felt like it was a make-or-break moment when I got the chance to make my play,” Swinton said. “So like I said, it was a dream come true for me honestly.” It may have been a name that Indiana fans were unfamiliar with, but not Penix. "I said it in the (press) conference last week," Penix said. "I said there's gonna be some young receivers that step up and Javon [Swinton] and Jacolby Hewitt were two guys I mentioned. I knew those guys were gonna have to come out on game day and have to make plays, and that's what they did.” Hewitt, a redshirt sophomore from Cordova, Tennessee, followed Swinton’s lead and made a huge catch of his own, this one for 14 yards to get IU into the red zone on the overtime-forcing drive. The two young receivers stepped up in a pressing moment of the game when Indiana needed them the most. 'Stay ready so you don't have to get ready' David Ellis was ruled out before the game with a lower leg injury, and fellow receiver Miles Marshall left mid-game due to concussion protocol. Because of this, Swinton and Hewitt were thrust into a larger role, but did not crack under pressure. “We live by our motto ‘Stay ready so you don’t have to get ready,’” Swinton said. “When one man goes down, it is just next man up. That’s just how football is.” Swinton’s name has come up numerous times in preseason press conferences, and proved in Saturday’s game why the coaching staff is so excited about him. Swinton is a 6-foot-2 freshman out of Stafford, Virginia. As a senior in high school, Swinton totaled 48 catches for 858 yards and 13 touchdowns. Recruited as an athlete, Swinton also played defense before coming to Indiana, making 46 tackles, two interceptions, seven pass breakups and one forced fumble his senior year. Head coach Tom Allen said that although Swinton played just nine snaps Saturday, he had two of the biggest catches of the game. For offensive coordinator Nick Sheridan, this performance showed that Swinton is ready to carve out a role in Indiana’s offense. "Now we get to coach them even harder,” Sheridan said. “Now we get to push them even more." While Swinton and Hewitt first made a name for themselves in Saturday’s win, their relationship began before Swinton even committed to Indiana. Hewitt was the host player on Swinton’s official visit to Bloomington during his recruitment. Ever since then, Swinton said the two have had a tight relationship. “[Hewitt] has been my boy,” Swinton said. “He always looks out for me like I look out for him. That’s like my brother. Even though we are competing, we are both supporting each other. We know both of us have to step up so it’s more of just like a support thing for each other.” Swinton said the flow of the game is starting to slow down as he and Hewitt gain more experience in the Indiana offense. Playing on a big stage against Penn State in his first collegiate game might seem like a big jump for Swinton, but he said he has been determined to get on the field since his first day on the team. “I didn’t want to be one that just sat on the bench,” Swinton said. “I know the quicker you learn the playbook the better chance you have to get on the field. It was more of just determination and the grind to get better and learn.” Time to get better As the Hoosiers approach a matchup with Rutgers on Saturday, Swinton knows it will be a tough challenge. Indiana will need a stronger overall performance from Penix versus Rutgers, and Swinton knows chemistry is a big factor in the offense improving as a whole. Swinton said he and the other receivers on the team have been staying after practice to get more reps in with Penix in order to build this chemistry. “(We're) just getting our chemistry and timing down so he knows where we are going to be and we know where he’s going to put the ball every time,” Swinton said. “It’s just going to get better for us.” In the week leading up to Indiana’s game versus Rutgers, Swinton said the team has ramped up the intensity in practice. The Scarlet Knights defeated Michigan State 38-27 this past Saturday, and are a team Indiana cannot overlook. “Trying not to live off one big win,” Swinton said. “We are just going even harder knowing that we didn’t play our best football game on Saturday versus Penn State. Just cleaning up all of the errors so that we can be the best possible team that we know we can be.”
The 2019-2020 Indiana receiving corps had to adjust mid-season to a quarterback change due to the injury of Michael Penix Jr., but that did not slow down the group’s productivity. When watching Indiana’s offense last season, it didn’t stick out as a high-flying unit, although the numbers prove otherwise. Indiana led the Big Ten in passing yards a year ago due to a solid group that was able to adapt on the fly. The Hoosiers return four of their top five leading receivers, which creates a level of excitement surrounding Indiana’s offense that hasn’t been present in the program’s recent history. Let’s break down a unit that could prove to be Indiana’s strongest group of players by the end of the season. Leaders of the group When analyzing Indiana’s receiving corps, three names immediately stick out. Wide receivers Whop Philyor and Ty Fryfogle teamed up with tight end Peyton Hendershot to be the team’s top three leading receivers a year ago, and all remain on the Indiana roster for the 2020 season. Philyor was recently named to the 2020 Biletnikoff Award Preseason Watch List, an award that annually recognizes the top receiver in the FBS. Philyor’s breakout 19-20 campaign helped land him on this preseason watch list, and rightfully so. He was named to the second-team All-Big Ten by the coaches and third-team by the media. The rising senior receiver led Indiana with 70 receptions for 1,002 yards last season, and tied for the team lead in touchdowns with five. Philyor’s agility and breakout speed will consistently provide Indiana with a threat whether he is positioned in the slot or on the outside. Another frequent name fans will see catch passes from Penix Jr. this year is Fryfogle, who enters his senior season in Bloomington. Fryfogle complements Philyor’s receiving style nicely because of his 6-foot-2 frame that serves as a big red zone target. Fryfogle finished third on Indiana in receiving yards last season with 604 yards on 45 catches, which led to three touchdowns. The speedy Philyor and large catch radius of Fryfogle should balance well to provide Penix Jr. with two different kinds of targets this season. Leading the tight end group for Indiana is the ever-reliable Peyton Hendershot, who was named to the third-team All-Big Ten last season. Hendershot was second on the team in receptions a year ago with 52. His 622 yards also ranked second on the Hoosiers and always seemed to come at big moments. Hendershot was second on the team with four touchdown receptions and did a great job of finding holes in the middle of the field to convert on key first downs. However, Hendershot has had a tumultuous offseason that nearly resulted in a suspension. The redshirt junior tight end pleaded guilty to misdemeanor criminal trespass due to a February incident with his ex-girlfriend. Hendershot faced misdemeanor charges of domestic battery, criminal conversion and criminal mischief, but these charges were dismissed. As a result, he was sentenced to a year of probation, along receiving a mental health evaluation and completing a batterers treatment program. Head coach Tom Allen also said in a Zoom call on July 14 that Hendershot completed team-sanctioned discipline, and is now with the team in full capacity. Who could take the next step Outside of Philyor, Fryfogle and Hendershot, there are some questions throughout the Indiana receiving corps. The Hoosiers lost Nick Westbrook and Donovan Hale to graduation, which leaves opportunities for younger receivers to step up. Westbrook and Hale ranked fourth and six in receiving yards last year for Indiana, respectively. Eyeing a chance to claim a bigger role in Indiana’s passing attack is a group of receivers that have exciting potential. First on this list is a name that is more familiar to IU fans when the Hoosiers’ special teams unit takes the field: sophomore David Ellis, whose electrifying speed was mainly used in the kick return game a year ago. Ellis finished the season with 28 kick returns for 579 yards, which ranked fifth in the Big Ten and 27th nationally. Indiana used Ellis sparingly in the passing game, resulting in 16 receptions for 173 yards. His speed was also utilized for nine rushes for 53 yards. The quickness of Ellis provides offensive coordinator Nick Sheridan with a multitude of ways to use Ellis in Indiana’s offense. Hoosier fans should keep their eyes open for game-changing plays when Ellis has the ball in his hands. Another receiver who could improve this season is redshirt sophomore Miles Marshall. Marshall provides a big target for Penix Jr., standing at 6-foot-4. As a freshman, Marshall didn’t see too much playing time, but took advantage of the time when he was on the field, hauling in 16 passes for 196 yards and one touchdown last year. Look for Marshall to be utilized in a similar way Nick Westbrook was used for the Hoosiers throughout his career at IU. The highlight of Indiana’s 2020 recruiting class comes in the form of 6-foot-2 Rashawn Williams. Williams was the only four-star signee for the Hoosiers this year and could complete what looks like a strong receiving corps for Penix Jr. to spread the ball around. Williams recently finished an impressive high school career at Martin Luther King High School in Detroit where his team won the state championship in 2018 and was the state runner-up in his senior season. He arrives in Bloomington as the No. 40-ranked incoming freshman wide receiver in the country. Other names to keep an eye on for the upcoming season are receivers Da’Shaun Brown and Jordan Jakes, as well as tight end Matt Bjorson. Brown is a converted wide receiver after having an impressive high school career as a quarterback, which led him to being ranked as the No. 30 athlete in the 2019 class. Brown and Jakes both redshirted during their freshman seasons, but could be integral pieces for the Indiana offense down the road. Jakes is a 6-foot-5 track star who was the No. 18 ranked player in Maryland in the 2019 class. While Bjorson will likely still lose playing time to Hendershot, he did catch an important touchdown in Indiana’s bowl-clinching victory at Nebraska a year ago. Indiana’s receiving corps provides fans with a lot to be excited about, as the Hoosiers return their top three leading receivers. An up-and-coming group of freshmen and sophomores are also chomping at the bit to keep Indiana at the top of the Big Ten passing yard ranks.
A lack of planning from the Big Ten this summer has put the conference in a difficult spot leading up to the season. The Big Ten will now have to watch as the first month of the college football season is played while it waits until Oct. 24 to begin its season. Players, coaches, families and fans are upset with new Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren’s decision to initially cancel the season, and they might be even less happy with Warren’s lack of transparency in his decision making. From being the first Power 5 conference to cancel its football season to releasing three different 2020 schedules, the Big Ten has shown a lack of organization over the past few months while trying to play football during a pandemic. I think it is safe to say year one for Warren probably hasn’t gone as he envisioned. However, through all of the miscues, organizational flaws and lack of planning, the Big Ten has added something unlike any other conference that could help fans forgive and forget what has happened in the months leading up to the season. Big Ten Champions Week. Dec. 19. Mark your calendars. For the first time in the Big Ten's existence, week nine will conclude regular season play with a new twist. Big Ten Champions Week will match up teams from the Big Ten East and West with a corresponding team from the opposite division based on their win-loss records. This means if Indiana finishes fourth in the Big Ten East, it will play the fourth-ranked team in the Big Ten West in week nine, and so on. The Big Ten Championship game will also be played on the the same day, creating somewhat of a Big Ten-only bowl season before the actual bowl season.
A third iteration of the 2020 Big Ten schedule was released Saturday morning, exactly five weeks before the start of the season. It was assumed that an eight-game Big Ten schedule plus an East versus West crossover game in week nine would give Indiana a challenging 2020 slate, but it is shaping up to be one of the most difficult schedules in the conference: 2020 Indiana Football Schedule
Indiana clung to a 21-17 lead heading into the fourth quarter against a team it had never before beaten. The Penn State Nittany Lions of 2013 weren’t the typical powerhouse that college football fans are accustomed to, but were 3-1 before facing the Hoosiers and 8-4 in 2012. The program was also in its final year of bowl sanctions and what would be the last year under head coach Bill O’Brien. Led by three future NFL players — quarterback Nate Sudfeld, running back Tevin Coleman and wide receiver Cody Latimer — the Hoosiers took down the Nittany Lions 44-24 for Indiana’s first and only win over Penn State. Indiana fans had grown accustomed to watching their team crumble in the fourth quarter against top teams in the Big Ten under Kevin Wilson, but not on the gloomy, overcast day that was Oct. 5, 2013 in Bloomington. In fact, when the Hoosiers gathered by the student section after the game to sing "Indiana, Our Indiana," there may have been more students in shoulder pads than in the stands. Indiana began the fourth quarter on a mission, scoring via quarterback sneak from dual-threat speedster Tre Roberson on the first possession of the quarter. The Indiana defense stood strong in the fourth quarter, leading to a crazy turn of events. In a matter of 12 seconds, the Hoosiers scored two touchdowns to go up 35-17. A 36-yard touchdown catch from Kofi Hughes was followed by an Indiana fumble recovery on the ensuing kickoff only to be topped off with a nine-yard touchdown run from Roberson. The game was littered with future NFL talent on the other side, as well, with Penn State quarterback Christian Hackenberg and wide receiver Allen Robinson II. Latimer and Robinson II put on a receiving showcase of their own, Latimer hauling in nine catches for 140 yards and Robinson catching 12 passes for 173 yards and two touchdowns. A freshman in 2013, Hackenberg set a Penn State record with 55 pass attempts, netting 340 yards and three touchdowns. Hackenberg and the Nittany Lions tried their best to mount a fourth-quarter comeback after cutting the lead to 42-24 with 7:44 remaining. But the Indiana defensive line stuck the dagger in the hearts of the Penn State faithful, forcing a Hackenberg fumble in his own end zone for a safety with 5:40 left in the game. An overlooked factor in this game could be Indiana's stout defensive line allowing just 70 yards on the ground, compared to 150 yards by the Hoosiers and 90 from Coleman alone. It must have been odd to see Indiana run out the last five minutes of the clock versus a Big Ten powerhouse, but that’s how the only Indiana victory over Penn State ended. While Indiana possessed one of its most potent offenses in recent years in 2013, it was not enough to become bowl-eligible. The Hoosiers won the Old Oaken Bucket in a 56-36 win against Purdue, but losses in five of the previous six games made reaching bowl eligibility impossible. It is a fun game to reflect on, not only because of all of the future NFL talent, but also on the coaching side. In 2012, O’Brien won Big Ten Coach of the Year as well as the Paul "Bear" Bryant College Coach of the Year Award. Despite interest from the Cleveland Browns and Philadelphia Eagles after his first year at Penn State, O’Brien decided to stay at Penn State, stating, “I am not a one-and-done guy.” O’Brien would finish 7-5 at Penn State in 2013, and, viewed as a hot coaching commodity at the time, was hired by the Houston Texans to be their head coach. O’Brien remains head coach of the Texans today and has a 2-4 record in the playoffs as a head coach. For the Hoosiers, Wilson was the head coach from 2011-2016, sporting a 26-47 in six seasons. He was thought of as a contrarian, who would often downplay wins and show optimism after losses. Wilson proved this after his team's victory over Penn State. "I don't know if we played great or overwhelmingly awesome, but we were pretty solid as a team," Wilson said. Under Wilson, the Hoosiers never won more than six games. Indiana lost in the Pinstripe Bowl in 2015 and the Foster Farms Bowl in 2016, but Wilson left the team before coaching in the latter. He parted ways with Indiana after accusations of mistreating players and pressuring one to play through injuries. Wilson is now the offensive coordinator at Ohio State where he has been since the beginning of the 2017 season.
Camp Randall Stadium in Madison, Wisconsin is regarded as having one of the best college football atmospheres in the country. Sept. 4 would have been the day the Indiana Hoosiers put on the cream and crimson to face the Badgers for a huge test in the season opener. But higher than usual expectations and excitement around the program came to a halt on Aug. 11 when the Big Ten announced the postponement of its college football season. If the Big Ten carried on with a season, it’s likely that the electric atmosphere wouldn’t have been there. Camp Randall Stadium probably wouldn’t have had fans losing their mind to “Jump Around” before the fourth quarter. But there would have been football: the game Hoosier fans will miss the most this fall. As the weeks go on, the Hoosier Network will attempt to give fans an idea of what a 2020 season would have looked like, and reflect on the history that goes along with each subsequent matchup. It’s not football, but it’s as close as it gets.
It has been nearly a month since the Big Ten decided its football teams would play a conference-only schedule, but on Wednesday morning, fans found out just who their team would be playing and when. Nine conference games for the Hoosiers remain the same as the original schedule, just different dates, but Minnesota was added to Indiana’s 10-game schedule that will span over a 12-week period. The release of this schedule does not come with a guarantee that the season will happen, but sports wouldn’t be the same without preseason schedule speculation. Hoosiers face numerous challenges early on In a world without COVID-19, Indiana’s football schedule to begin the season was an opportunity to boost its chances to make a bowl game two years in a row. However, with the release of the new schedule, it is quite the opposite. The Hoosiers’ season opener at Wisconsin on Sept. 4 remains the same, but instead of building confidence for a few weeks against Ball State, Western Kentucky and UConn, Indiana will face six teams in a row that were bowl eligible last year. Indiana will welcome Penn State, Illinois and Michigan to Memorial Stadium to go along with road trips to Wisconsin, Ohio State and Minnesota to complete the first six weeks of the season. These six teams combined to win 60 games a year ago. It was obvious that Indiana’s schedule would become significantly more difficult upon the announcement that the Big Ten would only play conference games, which means fans will get to see what Indiana is truly made of right away. In an interview on the Big Ten Network, head coach Tom Allen recognized this challenge. “I see it as a great opportunity,” Allen said. “The Big Ten is a great conference with a lot of great football teams. I look at it as we are all about making history here at Indiana.” While Allen’s confidence in his team never seems to waver, a certain metric has not moved in Indiana’s favor. According to ESPN’s SP+ ratings, Indiana’s expected win total went down from 7.4 to 5.2 wins with the release of a new schedule. The Hoosiers’ most likely record is 5-5 following this metric. Plenty of late-season opportunities to pick up wins After facing a gauntlet through the first six games of the season, a seemingly easier second half schedule could keep Indiana in the running for bowl eligibility. Week eight features a matchup with the Maryland Terrapins in Bloomington, followed by road matchups with Rutgers and Michigan State and the Old Oaken Bucket Game versus Purdue at home to finish the regular season. Three of the four teams rounding out Indiana’s schedule were not eligible for a bowl game last year, and Michigan State barely earned eligibility with two wins to finish its regular season. The Spartans also lost head coach Mark Dantonio to retirement this offseason. It will be important for Indiana to not lose hope in the season after the first stretch of games, since the back half of the schedule provides the Hoosiers with an opportunity to go on a late run. While the Big Ten did not outline bowl eligibility requirements in today’s schedule release, Nick Carpelli, executive director of the Football Bowl Association, told ESPN on July 15 that in a 10-game season, a 5-5 record is bowl-eligible by NCAA rules. Bye weeks come at optimal times The 2020-2021 Big Ten football schedule will run from Sept. 3 to Nov. 21 and include two bye weeks for each team. This decision was made in an effort to allow the possibility of games being collapsed into the bye weeks if postponements become necessary. Indiana’s two bye weeks come during week five and week 11 during the 12-week schedule. At first glance, these times seem to work in the Hoosiers’ favor, as week five provides breathing room between a home game versus Ohio State and a road trip to Minnesota. The first four weeks of Indiana’s schedule look to be one of the most grueling stretches of the season, which means a bye week on Oct. 3 will give Allen and the Hoosiers a chance to get healthy and prepare for the rest of the season. The second of Indiana’s bye weeks comes on week 11, separating a road game at Michigan and the regular season finale at home versus Purdue. In many past seasons, the Old Oaken Bucket game has decided the Hoosiers’ bowl eligibility status and could likely carry the same weight this season. Having a bye week during week 11 should provide the Hoosiers with necessary rest after nine weeks of Big Ten football and allow them to prepare for in-state rival Purdue, which has similar bowl game aspirations. One game to look forward to Indiana has lost 59 out of 68 games versus Michigan and has not defeated the Wolverines since 1987. That is not very helpful in making an argument for the Hoosiers to take down Michigan this year. However, Michigan will be without last year’s starting quarterback Shea Patterson. The Wolverines also have Ohio State the following week and Wisconsin the week after that. It is not quite the trap game Indiana fans would hope for since Michigan has a bye week before coming to Bloomington, but an improved Indiana offense led by Michael Penix Jr., Whop Philyor and Stevie Scott could be enough to compete with the Wolverines. The Hoosiers have played Michigan pretty competitively in recent years, with four of its last five losses coming within 11 points and two of the five games needing overtime to decide the winner. Indiana is scheduled to Michigan on Oct. 17, and if the game happens, there will likely be no fans in attendance. It's important to note, the release of this schedule does not guarantee a season will happen, but Indiana will begin fall camp on Aug. 6.