Hoosiers finally finish off ranked opponent in 24-21 win over Spartans

It was shortly after 12:30 Sunday morning by the time Mitchell Paige left the Indiana locker room and the scene of human catharsis held within.

He walked through the adjacent weight room with greasy streaks of eye black still smudged on his cheeks, remnants of the 24-21 overtime win against No. 17 Michigan State that Paige and his IU teammates have spent the past few years waiting to secure.

There would be no postgame shower for Paige on this night, at least not immediately. He spent whatever valuable time he had at the end of the night soaking in the scene and chatting with his father. Saturday evening — and, by extension, early Sunday morning — was cause to break routine, to linger a little longer and digest the final result differently.

While fans rushed onto the turf and posed for photos in front of an overturned goal post, Paige and his teammates enjoyed each other’s company in a raucous, electric locker room celebration.

“You would’ve liked to be in there, that’s for sure,” Paige said.

The Hoosiers savored every moment.

They had plenty of reasons to do so, beginning with the relief that came from finally following through. Indiana authored competitive performances against four ranked opponents last fall, but failed to finish on each occasion.

Saturday marked the first time since 2006 that Indiana could claim a win over a ranked Big Ten opponent. It was also the program’s first overtime victory since beating Purdue in 2010.

Carrying the Old Brass Spittoon seemed to be a highlight of the night for IU players who held it high in the air after the game. It was the first time in a decade that the old trophy had been in Hoosier hands, and when defensive tackle Ralph Green III saw it in his team’s possession for the first time, he admitted he was on the verge of tears.

One of the key reasons that trophy will rest in IU’s possession for at least the next year can be attributed to the play of Green’s teammates on the defensive line.

Maligned for their inconsistencies as a pass-rushing unit through the first month, IU’s front four established pressure when it needed it most.

To coach Kevin Wilson, the two top plays of the game were back-to-back sacks recorded by Patrick Dougherty and Nate Hoff during IU’s overtime stand. Indiana won the coin toss for the extra session and chose to send its defense to the field first, a textbook overtime strategy across the country, no doubt.

But Wilson told his team hours earlier that he held a genuine trust in this defense, and that he was going to coach like that unit would win Indiana the game.

Turns out, they sure helped.

While the offense sputtered through the first half, Indiana’s defense spent most of the night where it needed to be. It was gashed once for a huge gain — a Memorial Stadium opponent record 86-yard touchdown reception by R.J. Shelton in the first quarter — but IU limited additional explosive plays of the kind that buried it so often in past years.

“Our defense gave up a few things, played well,” Wilson said. “We didn’t talk a lot about the outcome before the game. We talked about the preparation. We talked about how to go play the game, trying to get into the fourth quarter.

“We felt in year’s past we got to those games and didn’t think anything was wrong, just the other team played a little harder and better. So we just asked our guys, we talked about making plays. I think we said word for word, ‘If you try to make a play, you’re not going to. If you just play hard, the plays will come.’ And defensively … that’s probably as good a thing as happened to us all night was those sacks that got them into that long-yardage situation (in overtime).”

For the second consecutive week, Tegray Scales led Indiana in tackles. The junior linebacker posted a career-high 14 tackles, marking his second consecutive double-digit effort, to go along with his 1.5 tackles for loss.

Fellow linebacker Marcus Oliver also tied the Indiana program record with the ninth forced fumble of his career. Defensive end Nile Sykes, meanwhile, recovered the first fumble of his career on a botched snap in the second quarter.

Around that point, a mantra was forming on the Indiana sideline.

“We said, ‘We just have to finish this game,'” Scales said.

Collectively, Indiana did. After IU was penalized seven times in the first half, it played the rest of the night without a single flag. The offense, too, found its footing late in the third quarter and kicker Griffin Oakes reemerged with the game-winning kick after a night of misses.

Far too often in Wilson’s first five years, Indiana failed to join together and close. On Saturday, it learned how it tasted to finally deliver.

“We’re excited,” Paige said. “We’ll enjoy it tonight, but I’m ready right now. I wish we could start watching film on Ohio State right now.”

28 comments

  1. It was good to see IU players enjoy this win more than previous wins. The importance of this win will be determined by future wins. The Hoosiers must win more B1G games this year to see the program turn the corner.

    I hope IU got several things from this win. One is the joy of winning games like this and the desire to have more victories like this. Second is for the offensive coaches to be confident in this group and call plays to attack the defense. I would like to see a quick pace at times in the game letting the offense get then jump on defenses. The third thing I hope comes from this game is for people to now believe in this defense. It isn’t a shut down defense but it is a much better defense than IU has had since the Mallory years. A combination of these things will make this IU team a dangerous team in the B1G. It has been an unusual year so far in college football, especially the B1G. Teams that were suppose to be rebuilding are two of the best in college football while Nebraska has learned the lessons of close losses last year. MSU, NW, IOWA, MD, MN, and PSU are unknowns right now because they haven’t lived up to last years success or have performed better than anyone expected so far this year. OSU and UM seem to be the class of the B1G although WS showed they are in that class too. These coming weeks will sort through how good teams are and were we fit in the hierarchy of B1G football.

  2. No penalties for the Hoosiers in the 2nd half was paramount in winning the game. Lagow’s confidence really gets a shot from the outcome. The CB’s and Safeties but specifically Bach are going to watch film of that 86 yd. TD pass all this week. Allen will impose his will on the execution of pass defense.
    I watched in total OSU over Rutgers, the Bucks are not just formidable but a juggernaut. The challenge they hold for IU is 3 times what MSU posed. AS stated yesterday they have the best passing D in the country.

  3. HC, I watched part of the OSU Rutgers game and OSU is for real no matter how young they are. Coach Wilson has seemed to have IU play OSU tough no matter the difference in talent so I still have hope for beating OSU. It will definitely be a much tougher team to beat but IU has the history of playing them tough and this team may think they will once again.

    One of the big things about last night were the recruits IU had in for the game. It had to reinforce they are making the right choice coming to IU and the ones not committed are now more interested in coming to IU, at least I hope they are.

  4. Wow! Congrats Coach Wilson, staff, and players on a great game! Thanks to the players for demonstrating resilience and tenaciousness plus playing with a big heart. Go IU!

  5. If MSU is/was the 17th best team in the country, then Wake Forest is going to the playoffs. But this was the best B1G of the KW era (so far). Great to see them stick with the running game. Great to see them clean up the penalties in the second half. Great to see them wear down the MSU defense. Great to see them win with defense. Redding was solid and Tyler Natee adds a whole new dimension with ball control offense. He is a huge talent that will keep getting better as he learns to run behind his pads and finish runs. This didn’t feel like an upset because the better team won. Ohio State should beat us badly next week because they should beat everyone badly. They have the look of a National Champion. But a loss next week doesn’t mean we don’t still have a very good team. This is what all us dedicated fans have been waiting for and what KW has delivered with his very slow but also steady progress. It’s a great day to be an IU fan. PS- If Tom Allen runs for Governor, I’d vote for him!

  6. Way off topic here, but I remember the last couple years when everyone was saying Fred Glass was a fool, a fraud, a salesman that was too nice to ever accomplish anything. Now he has a great men’s basketball program, soccer program and a solid football program. I don’t follow the women’s teams but I’ll bet they are doing great as well. Thanks Mr. Glass for sticking to your principles, not replacing coaches and building winning teams. You were and are perfect for IU.

  7. A “great basketball program”….? That’s a “fraudulent” statement at best. From MAC to Horizon League, nearly every midsize college(Ball State, Indiana State, Butler, Valpo) in this state has gone as deep in March Madness as Crean has taken the Hoosiers. Butler, obviously, has gone much deeper getting to back-to-back title games. Considering the talent differential a place like IU can/should draw, we are nowhere near a “great” program. The Big 10 title last season came with what most honest fans recognize as a gifted soft conference schedule(arguably and unprecedentedly weighted with bottom tier teams and home games against premier). There are a lot of East Coast Establishment string-pullers(media and those with in the workings of the NCAA with their alma maters up and down the East) who love hearing IU fans call Crean a “great coach.”

    The baseball coach left in a scandal….that was presented as not one.

    Football: We beat MSU at home. For the very low bar that has forever been IU Football, I suppose that’s a historical day. MSU was bitch-slapped around by Wisconsin. The premier teams of this league are OSU, Michigan, and Wisconsin. A win against any of those “premier teams” is shock-the-world material.
    Oakes is a terrible kicker. He cost us the Duke bowl game…and nearly cost us the MSU game. He ran around the field as if he kicked a game-winning 50-yarder after making what was, essentially, an extra point distance field goal(and it was hooking fast). The previous penalty for “leaping”(called on Oakes missed kick from around 30 yards) was very questionable(the replay I saw looked as if there was no assistance or climbing up the back of an MSU teammate to achieve the leap).

  8. 123- Too soon to be say “solid” football program as long as there are still Rutgers and Wake Forest-like disasters deflating our balloons every few games. Remember when we beat Missouri (on the road, no less) a few years back in 2014? That was the last time we had a so-called “program changer” win. We followed with an absolute turd against Maryland.

    The MSU game was a success, but it is sustained success, not momentary success, that defines a legacy.

  9. Permit me to add to the last comment by saying that I do see the defensive effort as very encouraging; a testament to how picking the right coach can produce a quick turnaround.

    Speaking of coaching changes producing results, how about Chris Petersen and those Washington Huskies?

  10. 2 good goals for OSU game is to 1. No significant injuries and 2. Play somewhat respectable defense. That is it. Low expectations (actually somewhat high considering it is OSU talent and U.M.). Then move on to next game.

  11. Harvard for Hillbillies, I think just about everyone on this board would appreciate your refraining from calling any of our student athletes terrible or accusing them of losing games. I don’t know what your record was as a student athlete at IU but I seriously doubt it was strong enough to warrant your criticism. Thank you.

  12. Wow…Just saw the Huskies vs. Stanford score. Didn’t see that blowout coming.
    Congrats to your Huskies, Husky Tom. Now that is, indeed, a “signature” win.

    But how do we even define “sustained” success? One year…two years…three successive years of getting to quality bowls or beyond Sweet 16’s in March?

    When we talk of Michigan, ND, MSU, OSU, Wisconsin…they have all seem to achieve one of the two goals within their two major sports. If they’re not playing in major bowls, then they’re dancing into the later rounds of March Madness(Elite 8s and Final Fours). IU has not played in a major bowl forever…and has not been beyond a Sweet 16 since Mike Davis took our Hoosiers to a championship game in 2003.
    You can’t define “greatness” in either major sports program when they have done nothing to garner major postseason headlines in over a decade(what ND, OSU, Wisconsin, MSU, Michigan, and Butler have all achieved in the face of our so-called “greatness” defined by 123).

    What a silly bar for “greatness.”

  13. Yesterday’s win does not signal that IU is yet a “solid” football program, but it signals that we’ve made progress. It signal that our football program is pointed in the right direction. If will help us recruit better players. It gives our young players confidence. It removes the “terrible” label from IU’s defense. It might help improve attendance at home games. It solidifies, by just a little bit more, the foundation Wilson is trying to build. It takes IU one step closer to going to its second consecutive bowl game. It was a big win for IU’s team and another step in the right direction. For now, yesterday’s win was enough for me.

  14. 123-

    Lagow was for all intensive purposes called “terrible” last week. I didn’t see you jumping on the hide of those posters. Wilson has repeatedly been second-guessed and accused of making “terrible” in-game decisions.

    Here, if it makes you happier….Oakes has been quite terrible of late. He is not proving to be a reliable kicker. My bad for the rather blanket statement(like they’ve never been said or seriously implied by any other contributor of Scoop before).

  15. Did anyone notice how many MSU players were helped off the field in last night’s game, especially MSU’s defensive players. IU beat those guys up!

    IU’s field goal kicking unit needs work. The winning kick, which was extra-point distance, was almost blocked. I’m glad Oaks redeemed himself with the winning kick, but given his performance thus far this season and through the game, I think Wilson will be popping his balloon come Monday morning.

  16. oops…My posting @ 12:31 pm was in response to ‘iufan23’ (not ‘123’ …unless it’s the same blogger using a slightly altered nickname).

  17. Wow- you guys are always there to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Yep- the program is solid. We are now a mid level B1G team- able to beat better teams or lose to lesser teams on any given Saturday. We are able to win when our All-American lineman and a potential late round NFL lineman didn’t play. That shows a certain level of depth we didn’t have before. Riggens, Ball, Natee and Gest are all better than average BlG players as freshmen and none were 4 star recruits. Next year’s most athletic defensive tackles and ends are all in the 2017 recruiting class and are still playing high school football. Our recruiting is solid and trending up. Our defense is solid and trending up. Our depth at all positions is improving. Our offense is getting better in the red zone. This team will win more games than they lose and next year’s team will be better. That’s solid. Ready to compete with Michigan and OSU for the Division Title? No, but solid.

  18. Yes, beyond a doubt IU was the most physical, out hit and out toughed MSU. The conservative 1st half did that by setting the tone for the contest. They had a harder time with IU when in the 2nd half Wilson opened up the play book that wore them down even more. It had everything to do with the 2 sacks in OT because MSU was showing they were more spent than IU.
    I never kicked a PAT or FG but kicking a PAT distance FG in OT for the W would be every bit as mentally challenging as kicking a 50 yarder in the 2nd Qt. of a close game.
    Probably the best coaching job of Wilson’s tenure as the game plan met a high % of execution, achieved the desired end results and had much to do with trusting the D.

  19. Most of the MSU players going out on injuries was after they tried to take down Natee. Natee and Gest will be a very special backfield in the future. IU has shown itself in several games to be the tougher team.

    Coach Wilson learns from previous games and said they gave up on the run too quick in the WF game which in my opinion cost IU the game. Ideally IU will run 40 -45 times and pass 30 – 40 times a game. The announcers were saying coach Wilson didn’t do the defense in favors in the past by running plays so quick yet they don’t recognize they are running almost as many plays this season they just are more running plays. I hope coach recognizes because he can trust the ‘new’ defense that he can run a spread offense with a good mixture of runs and passes not by playing so conservatively like the first half. Trust the defense by attacking the opposing defense and stressing them every play.

    I hope to see Natee with a bigger role in the future as he is a beast of a RB that wears down defenses. IU has a great combination of RBs, some with size and power, some with speed and quickness, and others with a combination of speed with some power. Despite losing the fumble I loved Redding’s effort in the 4th quarter that ended up with Westbrook recovering the fumble. Just as Lagow stood in when being drilled by MacDowell but completed a pass over a SS to Paige. They weren’t the only ones playing tough as many are playing hard and giving everything they have. It is fun to watch this team play the way they did the second half.

  20. V13- ditto to everything you just said. My one question- where was Camion Patrick? I didn’t see him in the game at all. Was he hurt?

  21. Harvard for Hillbillies says:
    September 26, 2016 at 8:55 pm

    Lagow is spilling over with talent and potential…That’s what Wilson understands. He’ll redeem himself just fine against MSU.

    Harvard for Hillbillies says:
    September 27, 2016 at 11:08 pm

    The season hinges on MSU….It could be argued that everything hinges on MSU. I think the crowd will be HeeeeeeeuuuuuuGE! this Saturday.

    Hoosiers 44
    MSU 35

    Called Lagow’s redeeming performance. Called the victory(overestimated the offensive output).

    Pretty good day at Park Prediction. I won’t bore with the many other posts I placed the Monday after the Wake Forest loss as I kept fending off the wolves wanting to throw Lagow and Wilson under the bus.

    Solid…? Maybe. If we don’t show any better than Rutgers against OSU, then the debate will surely open again.

    Still very fortunate to have our Bobby Knight of football. The backdoor trick play and TD pass(with Lagow as receiver) was a delight. The defensive stance that denied MSU the first points in OT was another delight. Lots to be pleased….but MSU may be an even worse team than we have yet to fully realize.

  22. Good calls indeed, Harvard.

    As I’ve said recently, Michigan St. and Iowa are the two mid/upper-tier Big 10 teams that we’ve had occasional success against over the last 10 years when we’ve happened to catch their programs in a momentary down period. They are certainly NOT Wisconsin, Michigan, or Ohio State; only a win against one of these three will truly indicate that we’ve arrived on the national scene.

    For now, beating MSU is a happy win. Feels sorta like beating the Pats while Brady is suspended, or an Eric Gordon bank shot beating Illinois. But there is lots more to prove. To me the biggest question is, can we make it the rest of the year without having another Rutgers/Wake Forest game?

  23. OSU has lost 4 games total and just 1 Big Ten game with Urban Meyer as coach. I have no idea what you expect to learn from the OSU game other than, wow Ohio State is really good. You didn’t think much of IU last year and probably not the year before. But IU took OSU to the wire both times. So what did you learn from those two games? Apparently not much.

  24. OSU is arguably the best football team in the country right now. I think IU will compete hard against OSU and that the outcome of this game will be much better than Rutgers produced. But IU fans should not expect Saturday’s game in Columbus to resemble last year’s game in Bloomington.

  25. As the win sets in, I hope this win is the catalysis for IU not just pushing the top programs, not necessarily best teams this year, and converting them into wins instead of moral victories. There have been several unusual scores and team results this year which may benefit IU as they challenge the top programs in the conference. At this stage we still don’t really know how good IUFB is; we go into games wondering if IU is good enough to knock off this team. We may find out IUFB is good enough to win 9 or more games instead of 6 games.

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