Oakes kicks Indiana to 24-21 overtime win over Michigan State

Griffin Oakes got his shot at redemption and Indiana claimed the signature conference win it has been searching for.

Oakes’ 20-yard field goal in overtime lifted the Hoosiers to a 24-21 win over Michigan State on Saturday at Memorial Stadium, where fans rushed the field to celebrate IU’s first win over a ranked opponent in two years — and its first at home in a decade.

Oakes booted the ball through the uprights in the overtime period and took off running, ripping off his helmet and sprinting in celebration.

The Indiana kicker, who missed his first two attempts of the night — three if you count a kick negated by a Michigan State penalty in overtime — got what he was looking for.

So did Indiana.

Indiana last beat a ranked opponent two years ago at Missouri. The program’s last victory over a ranked team at home came against No. 15 Iowa in 20016. That was also the last time IU held possession of the Old Brass Spittoon, which will now be on display in Bloomington for at least the next year.

“If you can’t get up for a team like Michigan State, there’s something wrong with you,” quarterback Richard Lagow said.

The Hoosiers held the rivalry trophy in the air as they bobbed around in a pack at midfield after the game, starting conference play with a bang.

After trailing 7-0 at halftime, and going down by 14 late in the third quarter, Indiana used 21 straight points to take a one-possession lead with four minutes remaining in regulation.

That run included valuable connections between slot receiver Mitchell Paige and Lagow, both of whom threw a touchdown pass to each other.

Lagow finished with 276 yards on 16 of 26 passing. He threw for two scores and was intercepted once during a frustrating and stagnant first half for IU’s offense.

A trick play executed well by Paige gave IU its first points of the night. Paige threw a five-yard touchdown pass to Lagow in the corner of the end zone to narrow Indiana’s deficit to 14-7. After Ricky Jones’ 22-yard touchdown catch tied the game with eight minutes to play, Lagow found Paige for the 15-yard, go-ahead score with 4:38 remaining.

Michigan State put up a fight, eating all but the final 11 seconds off the clock with a 13-play, 75-yard drive that ended on a two-yard pass from Tyler O’Connor to Indiana native Josiah Price on fourth-and-goal.

That forced overtime, where Indiana delivered.

IU’s defense came up with back-to-back sacks from Patrick Dougherty and Nate Hoff on second and third downs, respectively. A 49-yard field goal attempt by Michael Geiger missed well short of the uprights.

“That was probably as good a thing that happened to us all night, those sacks,” Wilson said. “… That was the difference in the game.”

Following Geiger’s miss, Michigan State further bailed out Indiana on the Hoosiers’ overtime drive.

Oakes appeared to miss a 33-yard field goal attempt, but new life was delivered when Sparty was flagged for a personal foul for leaping on the field goal block attempt.

And Oakes made the most of his final chance.

Playing under the lights and on national television, Indiana found the win it has spent the past two years searching for. After coming close to upsetting ranked opponents on four occasions last fall, Indiana scored a key victory to start a challenging stretch in October.

Michigan State was the first of three ranked opponents upcoming on IU’s schedule. Next is a game at No. 2 Ohio State, followed by a home contest vs. No. 15 Nebraska on Oct. 15.

By the end of the night, the goal post in the north end zone of the stadium was mangled by a student rush to celebrate on the field with the team — a celebration that represents a high point in the Kevin Wilson era.

“I saw everybody rushing the field and I saw that pretty spittoon in the middle of the field,” defensive tackle Ralph Green III said. “It was awesome. I broke down in tears. It was a blessing.”

It’s a high point Indiana willed itself toward on a night where it bent, but refused to break on both sides of the ball.

Michigan State outgained IU 438-437, rediscovering a rushing game that picked up 175 yards. Indiana, meanwhile, discovered an opportune pass rush and put its foot down in critical situations, holding the Spartans to only four conversions in 15 opportunities on third down.

Indiana posted 317 of its yards in the second half, averaging 7.9 yards per play during the final two quarters.

In the end, though, it wasn’t a run or a pass that sealed Indiana’s big win.

It was the right leg of its kicker.

“Best kicker in the nation,” Lagow said. “I never lost any confidence in him at all.”

6 comments

  1. Congrats to Oaks for making the winning kick, but he needs a little work in order to return to last year’s form. In all fairness, he should have been given another try during the first half, but instead, our Riverboat gambler of a head coach went for it on 4th down deep, inside MSU territory. I guess he has a new profound confidence in his defense.

  2. I thought we’d win this game since the start of the season. But not having Feeney or Camiel made it feel more like a long shot. Natee was very good at the end of the game. A 270 lb running back is a great weapon in the 4th when the defense gets tired. We have more weapons this year. Lagow looked poor in the first half- bad on touch passes and bad on the long ball. But he was excellent in the second half. Hope this builds his confidence. Hope V13 got to be at the game. He and I had been saying all summer that this IU team is good enough to now get some signature wins. It was an ugly game until the end of the 3rd but the defense came up big and the offense simply wore down MSU. That is something no IU team could do since the Mallory years. Great win.

  3. As HC said earlier, we lost one we should have won and we won a game we should have lost. Bottom line is that we’re 3 – 1 and have the record that a lot of people were hoping we’d have at this point in the season. And as far as bowl games go, it’s better to have beaten the #17 ranked MSU than it would have been to beat Wake Forest. Go Hoosiers, win seven this season.

  4. 123, I wasn’t doing well enough to get to the game and had a tough time being able to watch the game but it was a great win to see. I wish I could have been there as it seemed like a great atmosphere.

    I read where Coach Wilson told the team he trust the defense and is going to call offense thinking he can trust them. The way the offense was called this game shows he means it for now. Natee looks like a great runner starting to find his legs. It will be a while before he is a great runner but he showed tonight he has the talent and size to be that kind of RB. In the future years IU can have thunder and lightning in the backfield with Natee and Gest.

    The offense wasn’t good in the 1st half but they stuck with the plan they seem to go in with. The offense still got into MSU territory five times in the first half. The second half of the game our offense finally came together and I hope it continues to get better. Not having Feeney and Camiel made the offense effort even more special. IU still has room to improve and players that haven’t really seen the field yet that they counted on until they got hurt.

    The defense isn’t a shut down defense and they still have too many mistakes by some players IE our DEs don’t set the edge very good. On the other hand the defense is much better than last year and when they needed to step up in overtime they got two sacks and moved MSU back to make the FG longer. The defense looks very good most of the time but still has times they are just not quite in the right position. When IU needed them the most the defense stepped up to win the game.

    The best part of this game was IU was the team that got stronger and playing better as the game went on. MSU counted on special plays to keep moving the chains and didn’t really get in sync most of the game. This is a great win but only if the team builds on it and beats other teams that will stress IU. OSU and UM look to be the only teams that might, and only might, be to strong for IU but every other game will be about who wants to win the game.

  5. Some pertinent stats. Lagow 62% passing and was never sacked, Redding 100yd day., 3rd down conversion MSU 4-15 IU 9-16, IU 67 offensive plays-MSU 76, red zone chances IU 4 MSU 1, TFL IU 6 MSU 2.
    I like that Riverboat Gambler Coach on 4th and 1 as Oakes was no guarantee for the day. He showed with that call he trusts the OL and Allen’s D. The defense will learn more from this game during the next week than they did from the previous 3 games.

  6. HC, I agree IU will learn far more from this game than previous games. IU played solid through out the game and in games coming up they can build on this opening up the offense a bit at a time. Our offense has the talent we thought they had but each player has to execute the play each time. IU can’t afford to miss many plays and the same goes for the defense. OSU won’t let IU off the hook if they connect on an 83 yard bomb early in the game.

    OSU has a great defense but time after time coach Wilson and crew show they can score on any defense. They will find weaknesses to exploit and I wonder if Lagow because a runner on a few plays since OSU really hasn’t seen that in IU’s games. We saw it once so I know they have it in the game plan.

    I am looking forward to this game to see exactly how IU measures up with the best in the country.

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