IU snaps 24-game losing streak to Michigan with 38-21 win

As Indiana’s Devon Matthews swooped past his sideline with a game-sealing interception, his arms stretched out like the wings of a bird, there was little doubt that someone would come to celebrate with him.

The junior safety from Jacksonville, Fla., had just sunk a dagger into No. 23 Michigan, all but icing a 38-21 win — a win that snapped the program’s 24-game losing streak to the maize and blue. This was one of those climactic moments, full of energy and excitement, that should draw any number of Hoosiers into a frenzy.

But the Hoosier speeding toward Matthews after that interception, it wasn’t one of his teammates. It was head coach Tom Allen, sprinting 20 yards at the pace of a first-string linebacker. IU’s boisterous headman leaped into the air, and when he fell, he fell on Matthews, taking them both to the ground.

After the game, Allen was sporting a nasty cut on one cheekbone, because the player was wearing a helmet, and the coach was not.

“I don’t think he broke it, but it doesn’t feel very good right now. But bottom line is, I don’t really care,” Allen said. “I just love this team.”

Bones be damned after a win like this. Because Allen knows, when the 2020 schedule was first released, not many people thought the Hoosiers would start out 3-0 with top-25 opponents like Michigan and Penn State on the docket. IU had beaten Penn State just once in its history. The last time IU beat Michigan, in 1987, Allen was a senior in high school. Matthews wasn’t a thought.

But the No. 13 Hoosiers did win, thanks to a career-high 342 passing yards from quarterback Michael Penix Jr. And thanks to a sturdy defense that only allowed Michigan to rush for 13 yards on 18 carries. And thanks to key takeaways down the stretch, including interceptions from Jaylin Williams and Matthews.

Those two had other options in the recruiting process. They didn’t have to pick a program that was battling for five-win seasons — a program that couldn’t come close to stacking up with the top teams in the Big Ten East. But Allen was saying they could, and they would.

They believed, and Saturday, again, it was proven true.

So when Allen saw there was just enough room on the sideline to make a charge — because he still recalls times earlier in his coaching career where his exuberant celebrations cost a penalty — he had no doubts.

“I felt pretty good that I wasn’t going to get the penalty,” Allen said. “So I went and dove on him.”

The whole college football world saw Penix’s dive for the pylon to beat PSU, and Allen crowd-surfing in the locker room. This time, Allen gave the table a couple of slaps following his postgame press conference, screaming “Woooooo!” and “Yeah, baby!” as he walked away.

It was just the last cathartic release after Allen and his Hoosiers put so much out on the field. In the first two weeks of the season, IU (3-0, 3-0 Big Ten) had claimed big wins, rising up the Associated Press poll in stunning fashion. But there were obvious things the Hoosiers could do better, whether it was the offense starting slow, or the defense not quite closing the door.

This time, the Hoosiers started fast, and they finished strong. They took a quick 7-0 lead, responded to a game-tying Michigan drive to push it to 14-7, and then put a metaphorical foot on the neck, scoring before halftime to make it a 24-7 game.

The defense succumbed to Michigan quarterback Joe Milton at times, allowing him to rack up 344 yards and cut the Hoosiers’ lead to 31-21 early in the fourth quarter. But then IU stiffened, extracting Michigan’s first turnovers of the season. And when the ball was in the Hoosiers’ hands late, they churned out the ground yards they needed, Stevie Scott ramming into the end zone for a final score.

The postgame celebration properly honored the feat.

“As soon as we stepped foot in the locker room, it was like a party,” IU corner Reese Taylor said. “We just beat Michigan. I don’t know the last time we beat Michigan. Me personally, I know a lot of the team wasn’t born, wasn’t thought of. We had to do it.

“The mindset we had, we had to get the W.”

There is a reason Allen’s one word for the week was “elevate.” Beat Michigan, and the potentially program-altering course the Hoosiers are on this season continues.

That’s why, when IU was just a little flat in meetings at the beginning of the week, Allen set a tone. Allen put his players through, as he described it, a “mean, nasty, physical” practice Wednesday. One player was even hurt during it, but Allen didn’t regret it.

“This week we could tell he was on edge with it,” Williams said. “We just had to take that mindset into the game.”

Slow starts dogged the Hoosier offense in the first two weeks of the season, but that was not the case Saturday. On an 11-play, 74-yard drive to open the contest, Penix was 7-of-9 for 60 yards, capped off by a 13-yard touchdown pass to Miles Marshall.

Both teams would then trade three-and-outs, and Michigan would score to knot it back up at 7-all four minutes later. But the Hoosier offense registered a response drive. Propelled by a 31-yard pass to Ty Fryfogle on second-and-10, Penix eventually found the senior receiver again for a 24-yard touchdown strike.

Fryfogle was Penix’s favorite target, finishing with a career-high 142 yards on seven catches. All of those yards came in the first half.

“It just started early in the week of practice, building the confidence up and throwing deep balls,” Fryfogle said.

“We knew we were going to have to come out and throw deep balls, because they play mostly man.”

Penix went into the locker room with 254 yards. He had 238 yards the previous week at Rutgers, in all four quarters.

The offense was just on, stringing together long drives, building a 31-14 cushion in the third quarter. IU held onto the ball for 38:50, compared to just 21:10 for Michigan.

When the Wolverines responded, cutting the lead to 10 points, IU’s defense put it away. A misguided pass from Milton landed in Williams’ hands, and he scrambled for a 36-yard return to set IU up at the Wolverines’ 29. It took a fourth-and-1 run from Scott to extend the drive, but Scott pushed across the goal line on a third-and-goal at the 2 to make it 38-21 with 8:40 remaining.

Michigan made one final march, advancing to just five yards short of the red zone. But a holding penalty pushed them back. A sack by James Head Jr. pushed them back even farther. And then a pressure by James Miller, and pick by Matthews, ended Michigan’s hopes.

Then, Allen bolted.

“Some of these guys came here, they could have went other places in the recruiting process,” Allen said. “We’re basically doing the very thing we said we could do, even though we hadn’t done it yet. Devon Matthews is one of those guys. He believed in us.”

Now, believe it or not, the Hoosiers are 3-0 in conference play for the first time since 1988.

“This is something we talked about in practice, this is something we expect,” Penix said. “It’s just the beginning.”

50 comments

    1. The radio guy did say Payton twice before correcting himself. (too nice a day for TV. Sit outside with a beer and enjoy the radio)

  1. Our offensive line is bad? Somebody on the Hoosier line put out a ferocious block on Scott’s final TD at the goal line. I should know the name…Only caught the first number on his jersey…(fifty something).
    And the DC in the powder blue is simply a blast….Loved the way he was cheering on the offense at the conclusion.

    Don’t get overconfident. Not sure if we’re totally for real or if Harbaugh’s team is simply a sinking ship.

    Our corners and secondary do seem very athletic and fast…Shout out to t for pointing out their skills.

    1. H4H, Our OL did much better today but I have to wonder how good Michigan’s DL really is. Once the offense threw the ball enough our OL could drive the DL off the ball and I hope coach Sheridan remembers that formula. I hope the OL can continue the improvement and keep helping the offense get better. The OL man was likely Mike Katic if it was the left guard.

      I loved seeing coach Wommak cheering on the offense as it shows the coaches care about the team and all the players. It is a great start to this season for the Hoosiers.

      Let’s not forget our FG kicker that set a personal best with a 52 FG today as a result to the long snapper, holder, and blockers.

      1. Is everyone else improving in the Big10…or have Michigan and PSU really dropped in quality?

        I’m still really not sure how good this Hoosier team is….Could we stay within three touch downs of OSU?

        Penix looked a bit more human today. We were fortunate some of his errant throws weren’t picked. Then again, a wide-open Hendershot dropped a perfectly placed deep pass that was likely going to be a TD. Overall, Penix is still the spark and “it factor” that gets this offense motivated/confident.

      2. We had 69 yards rushing into the 4th quarter and only were able to establish a run game when it was out of reach and UM was on their heels. Dylan Powell played left guard for the entire game, not Katic. We threw as much as we did (17 times in the 1Q alone) because we knew UM was outmanned (physically and in experience) and that we could exploit them there. Game planes change weekly based on the opponent.

  2. A great game for IUFB as all parts of the team played well and improved again. Coach Sheridan showed some hops today and despite forgetting now and then how he got drives going down the field at times did a very good job. I said if they passed the ball more it would open up the running game and that happened.

    Defense looked very good the first half and played solid in the second half. The front didn’t get as much pressure on the QB in the second half but contained their running game and got take-aways again. The Hoosiers are still on track for take-aways and they need to keep it up.

    It is clear these aren’t the same old Hoosiers but with PSU struggling with Maryland [they are down 0-14 at the end of the 2nd quarter] IU will have some tough games to come. I will enjoy 3-0 in the B1G East with MSU coming up after their whipping by Iowa.

    Just imagine if trends continue Michigan 1-2, MSU 1-2. PSU 0-3 maybe with IU atop the B1G at 3-0 along with a probable OSU at 3-0.

    1. Maryland is legit and we won’t be able to look past them. Tua’s brother looks very impressive. PSU looks like they were over ranked to start the season.

      Do you think Westbrook looks at this IU team and start crying thinking about what could have been if Penix was healthy last year?

    2. I also said that IU needed to pass on 1st and 2nd downs to open up the run game. Both Scott and James are running very hard. Sheridan needs to keep growing into his job. Be unpredictable and aggressive. Use Hendershot and the new receivers. I loved Miles Marshall TD catch and “in your face” finish!

  3. As good as our receiving corps is I think the younger receivers look to be even better when they get more time on the field. IU has receivers that can replace graduating receivers after this year.

    Our OC and DC should they are up to the task today and as they gain more experience they will improve along with our players getting better too. I am very glad coach Peoples is here with the way he has the front playing this season.

    I hope coach can keep this staff together and keep IU improving every year. IU seems to have the pieces in place to improve and become a top team in the B1G. It won’t be easy as Rutgers and Maryland seem to be improving and OSU, PSU, and Michigan are still in the East. Maryland is ahead of PSU 35-7 with 11 minutes to go in the 3rd quarter right now.

  4. Allen can officially use “BREAKTHROUGH!” now. I give him my consent. Down year or no down year ….for PSU and Michigan, if you take them both down in the same season, it’s very meaningful. Congrats to Coach Allen.

  5. I haven’t been this relaxed watching an IU FB game since 1987. I haven’t been this happy/satisfied about IU FB for decades. Today’s victory was validation in so many ways:
    * An excellent quarterback can transform a team filled with 3-star talent into a big winner. Penix was/is excellent.
    * If you’re not a great running team, the passing game can open up the running game. IU was grinding an exhausted MI defense into the turf late in the fourth quarter and they could not stop Scott.
    * No one is snickering about TA’s LOE philosophy any more! It’s real and it makes a difference. Today’s win was a total team win, and you could tell these guys love each other and love their coaches. As V13 noted above, that was obvious when Wommack went wild cheering for the offense toward the end of the game.
    * Sheridan had his offense prepared and he called a great game. I think he took a huge step today in trusting Penix and his receivers, and it should give him a lot of confidence going forward.
    * Hiller deserves credit because the O-line showed a lot of improvement. I don’t think they gave up a sack today and the few negative-yardage plays were not their fault.
    * Big Ten refs still make some terrible calls and screw up replays. It was a fumble, not an incomplete pass. And the spot on 3rd and two was off by four feet. How do you screw-up those replays?

    IU Football is real and in good hands.

  6. On a separate subject, I’m going to predict right now that Harbaugh will be fired by the end of the season. It is highly likely that his team will be 1 – 3 after next Saturday’s game with Wisconsin. And they will lose to OSU again. They have loads of talent, but do not play like a well-coached team. So how can MI justify continue paying him over $7 million per year?

    Hope TA is going after Michigan’s recruits right now.

    1. If there is a UM – UW game next week. The two most recent UW games were cancelled on account of coronabadger-19. Does anyone know how cancelled games are being figured into the standings? NU is 3-0 in the West. Say NU loses to UW but otherwise wins out and finishes 7-1. And say UW wins out and finishes 6-0. I guess UW is the West winner by virtue of head-to-head win v. UW. But there are a lot of other scenarios . . .

  7. Nice in the neighborhood score prediction by H4h. Aggressive downfield pass game opened up run game as V wished for. When Michigan tried to turn momentum the secondary came through. It’s been along time if hardly ever where IU secondary could effectively execute take aways to the extent they have this season by catching pass interceptions and then getting excellent athletic returns after interception. IU is playing athletic, physical, and efficiently fast. A very good well coached in all phases of game including a 53 yard field goal during game and running the ball to finish the game on a beautiful Indiana fall day.

  8. What a satisfying win today. I’ve been saying this day was been coming since CTA took over for Wilson. Myself and a few of others scoopers (mainly V13 and Hoosier Clarion) also saw what was brewing. But the naysayers/haters (mainly t, H4H, and to an extent Bear Down) didnt want hear it or believe it because of years and years of futility for the program. IUFB has officially arrived as a bona fide legitimate B1G football program and I couldn’t be more proud of Tom Allen for what he’s accomplished in his tenure at IU.

    1. Love to see it but I’m admittedly more into the X’s and O’s, and I know that’s not the vibe of the board.

  9. t, very good post about how IU is playing and it is a big change from the past. I liker how the safeties are with our new safeties coach Jones. The defense played great against the run people were worried about. They had a great 1st half and continued to play well, not great, in the second half. It is so good to root on a Hoosier football team that is 3-0 in the B1G.

    This team still needs to improve but they have each week so far. UM and PSU both looked like they have given up on the season. UM played hard but it is hard to believe IU’s athletes are better than Michigan’s although it sure looked that way. PSU looked really bad tonight and couldn’t turn things around. PSU was supposed to have one of the best OLs in the B1G but against one of worst run defense in the B1G PSU couldn’t run the ball at all. When has Don Brown had a worse defense? Just think IU still sets a top the B1G and may for another week after this.

    I think IU will surprise most B1G teams this year with just one tough match up at OSU. The defense is legitimate, our offense is explosive when we pass first and run second. IU will be even better when several missing offensive players come back and can contribute.

    This has been a very good year and I hope it continues as each game comes to the Hoosiers.

    1. Not sure we have the explosive offense you think. We ran 36 more plays than UM and only outgained them by 103 yards. Moreover, the passing game, which is the obvious strength for both teams, produced a much greater per reception average for them than us.

      What we did, overwhelmingly through the air, since we still have trouble running it, was possess the ball (our TOP was nearly double theirs). Our running stats were goosed at the end once they quit, so it’s obviously deceiving and not a sign of any resurgence there. Their D was exhausted, having been on the field for 88 snaps and nearly 40 minutes of clock. But it didn’t hurt us. The line still really struggles, especially in run blocking, and especially at tackles. We aren’t very good there.

      The credit for the win should go to the D. UM had 12 possessions. They punted to conclude seven of them, including six of their first seven. Two others ended in turnovers. And only one resulted in them having the ball for over 5:00. Thats how you endure an unbalanced offense and a lack of a running game (we punted five times, too). We had five drives with 10 or more snaps. They had none. They hit a couple of big plays, likely because one of our db’s lost his poise, but we kept them in front for just about the entire game. And we got off the field consistently, giving the ball back to the O. That was the difference today.

    2. Explosive, certainly leaning there. I’d absolutely call it opportunistic and dynamic with the pass offense helping the rushing attack. Against Meatchicken there certainly were shades of DeBoer playcalling.

  10. BD, MI’s offensive stats were deceiving since Iu was playing “prevent” defense much of the fourth quarter. In addition, MI did complete a few long passes to make the stats look better. But IU dominated MI today.

    1. That Bell kid for UM is going to be good on Sundays. He has the speed, route running and hands to be a starter in the NFL. IU’s mistake was trying to cover him one on one without help over the top.

    2. UM upped their pace late but they’d already hit down the field with several big plays. But you make my point for me by acknowledging that it was the D that was largely responsible for yesterday’s win. But, to your post, what did you think IU did differently late that you interpreted as a “prevent” defense?

    3. To provide some additional commentary, we traded out a D lineman for a LB through several second half possessions, including three in the fourth quarter, but it wasn’t a “prevent” scheme. UM couldn’t protect and began to keep a TE in to block. Since they weren’t running the ball any more, we had to cover everyone they put in the pattern. Regardless, we blitzed frequently out of that package, including several corner blitzes, and had two INTs, as well. You don’t blitz in a “prevent” ever. Hope that gives a little more insight into how we were playing it on the D side.

      1. Sorry but anytime you add an LB for a DL it numerically creates a prevent scheme. A scheme to deny a score. Just because you say different doesn’t make it so.

        1. No it doesn’t, especially when you elect to repeatedly blitz out of it. Prevent defenses don’t do that.

        2. And every scheme is set up to deny a score. But calling it a “prevent” isn’t accurate in any way, at least from a coaching standpoint.

          1. 3 DL, 8 behind is a prevent by anyone’s definition. If you didn’t want to bend not break you’d not swap a DL for an LB.

          2. In 1981, maybe. Today, it’s not even close if you follow the game closely. You don’t blitz corners in a “prevent” (that’s not a term coaches use). Watch the game again and you’ll see what they did.

          3. You literally have no idea on this, or how they determine what they want to do. Saying teams in a “prevent” blitz corners is retry laughable. It completely goes against the principles you’re suggesting they’re following, which is why it makes no sense. Wow.

          4. The re-watch is your need. You can masquerade as a coach on a blog till the cows come home. To say 3 DL and 8 behind the LOS is not a prevent D when blitzing but is a prevent when they don’t, is silly. ROTGLMAO!

  11. Lots to like. Good adjustments with playcalling for a passing game to enable the rushing attack to be successful. The OL responded with a solid effort to make both work. Coach Allen has an outstanding staff as by the results produced. The new hires have answered all unanswered Q’s. The 2 young coordinators are growing leaps and bounds. Recruiting goes to a new level. New fans made for MS seats when available. Practice will be a blast this week. This was the game my family and I would have been to this season. Would’ve been great.

  12. Quoting Chief Dan George; “my heart soared like an eagle”. Similar to feelings I had with ’79 Holiday Bowl and Mallory’s late 80’s wins. When Glass named Allen, I told him that Allen would end up being the schools all-time wins leader by the time he finished. He was heavily criticized for his choice,..and responded appreciatively. Gerry’s ‘pizza’, shared that same sentiment on BIG FINAL DRIVE, albeit, years later, on last nights show. Allen and Hoeppner are the only ones that looked at the IU gig as a ‘final destination’ instead of a stepping stone.
    Besides coaching and fundamentals, It’s about superior team speed. OSU has it across the board, IU does on defense, Maryland on offense and a few others to a lesser degree. Locksley has done a great job in a short time. That game suddenly looks like a critical match. Congratulations, coaching staff and players! Fabulous early turnaround.

    1. Brad I too think coach Allen will stay at IU for his career and become the winningest football coach at IU. Coach brings in good assistants and finds replacements when needed. His LEO approach is big in the South where religion is still important to families. It isn’t about proselytizing but about the way our coaches treat their sons.

      Maryland does look like a tougher game but it is hard to judge based on the performance so far. I discount the PSU game they didn’t play with any passion – for example PSU couldn’t run against the worse run defense in the B1G. The game was more about how bad PSU looked than Maryland being world beaters. Now I do think they will be a challenge for IU due to the athletes Maryland has but how much of a challenge we will have to see.

  13. Does this now get more 4 and 5 star guys looking at IU closer or at least put IU on their lists as they narrow it down? Does IU in the next year or two have a top 5 Big Ten recruiting class? Could be interesting.

    1. Iuhoosier: Combined with LEO that’s being shown and talked about on national coverage,..the higher level of athlete that might consider Bloomington is pretty much a certainty. If it means getting 4-5 4☆’s more per cycle, that’s a major boost.

  14. There are just a very small handful Of what are 5 star recruits. Even top teams in the country with best recruiting classes only get 1, maybe 2.

  15. At the end of their respective seasons, which IU team, Men’s BB or Men’s FB, will have achieved the higher national ranking? It’s kind of fun to even ask that question.

    Maryland will be a very tough game. Maryland also loves and believes in their head coach, and also, they have a very gifted quarterback. PSU has not recovered from their loss to IU. Their season is pretty much over, although I would love them to drive another nail into Harbaugh’s coffin.

    Not sure if IU FB’s ranking will affect recruiting for the class of 2021, unless of course TA is recruiting kids who have committed to a team whose head coach gets fired at the end of this season (potentials being Iowa, MI). MSU and TN are disheveled programs right now, so we could flip a few kids committed to those programs. But really, it’s what’s going on in the southeast that is most consequential. We’ve got several coaches who have a lot of recent experience and connections to schools in Florida, Georgia, etc. We should be as strong as ever recruiting in those areas where strong relationships have been established.

  16. I read articles today about PSU and OSU and it is surprising to hear OSU talking about issues they are having on the team. I wondered with the big exodus of players from PSU [18 I think transferred] what was going on with the team. The players on PSU were saying the team isn’t playing together and more as individuals. It is one thing to hear a coach say this but when the players do there is a big problem, maybe the team players left the program because PSU just went after the highest rated players not the quality players. Their recruiting in the DMV area will take a big hit due to Maryland and Rutgers good press and PSU’s poor season.

    OSU has been outscored in the second half the last two games. Rutgers scored 27 on them and gave up 49 which IU’s defense plays better than Rutgers. The reason given for being out scored in the second halves was said to be practice habits of the team.

    Compare those two comments about PSU and OSU with coach Allen’s comment about IU’s Wednesday’s practice as he said it was the most physical brutal practice he had ever been involved with and Katic was injured. It just shows how much these players want to win games and I hope it continues.

  17. OSU is just going through the motions until they make it to the playoffs. If OSU played only their back-ups and third-stringers, they’d still beat every other Big Ten team. They are loaded with talent, and as long as they stay healthy, they’ll be playing for the National Championship.

    ND got a great win last night, but it was obvious that it was the result of the best QB in the country not being available. Plus, Clemson has been bitten by the injury bug in a big way.

  18. What a game!

    I feel like Lee Corso and want to take a picture next to the standings/rankings this week.

    Glad to see Allen and staff are bearing fruit from seeds they’ve planted. They have had a very intentional way of building this program that’s been mocked repeatedly around these parts. I don’t expect that we’re a Top 10 team, but we have a TEAM and lots of talent. And they’ve been developed. This is isn’t just a positive 3 game stretch, this is sustainable.

    Going forward and you’re a recruit at home: who would you rather play for? Tom Allen or Jim Harbaugh?

    Jim Harbaugh is an overrated coach and a terrible human being. Not only does it feel good to finally beat Michigan, but beating them with HIM at the helm.

  19. DD, I’m no fan of Jim Harbaugh and agree that he is overrated, but I have no basis for calling him “a terrible human being.” That comment crossed the line and reminds me of those many Bob Knight critics who used to say the same thing about him.

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