In-game analysis, IU at Northwestern

Northwestern returned Austin Starr’s opening kick to the 30. The game’s opening drive starts there.

  • Nick Polk gobbles up Northwestern wideout Ross Lane to hold him for a two-yard gain.
  • Tracy Porter was injured on the play, and limped off the field. It looked like a knee injury.
  • On third down, Bacher’s pass to Lane is complete for 19 yards and a first down.
  • Again, the Hoosier D yields a big play as Tyrell Sutton caught a 20-yard pass down the middle before Nick Polk stopped him.
  • The Hoosier D holds, and Northwestern is forced to attempt a field goal.
  • Villarreal’s 29-yarder is good and the Wildcats go up 3-0 early.

Northwestern 3, Indiana 0. 9:27 remaining in the first quarter.

  • James Bailey returns the ensuing kickoff 91 yards for a touchdown. He took the ball on the left side, found a seam near the right and bolted down the sideline nearly untouched.
  • Austin Starr’s extra point is good

In about ten seconds, IU’s on top 7-3.

  • The Wildcat’s second possession starts on their own 29-yard line.
  • Northwestern gains a first down on two short passes to open up the drive.
  • The Wildcats continue to find seams in the Hoosier run defense.
  • Tracy Porter intercepts Bacher’s pass at about the 30-yard line and returns it 13 yards.

IU now starts their first offensive drive of the day from their own 36-yard line. With 6:56 remaining in the first period, it’s the first time Kellen Lewis, James Hardy and the rest of the offensive unit have stepped on the field.

  • Lewis’s first pass goes nowhere, as Ray Fisher gets surrounded by Wildcat defenders for no gain.
  • Payton grabs this Lewis pass, and scoots along the far side for a gain of 5 yards.
  • On third and three, Lewis scrambles to find James Bailey along the near sideline. The gain of two isn’t enough, and Michael Hines is out to punt.

Northwestern begins their drive at the 21-yard line.

  • The Wildcats open with two consecutive runs, gaining five yards on first down and four on the second. It’s now third and one.
  • They stick with the run, and Sutton gains 9 to earn a first down for Northwestern.
  • Play-action leads to an 11-yard gain and another first down.
  • Bacher keeps it for a four yard gain before Jamie Kirlew stops him at the 46.
  • NW receiver Eric Peterman grabbed a pass from Bacher and gained nine yards before Adam McClurg’s hard hit send him to the turf.
  • Bacher scrambles to his right before finding a wide open Sutton for another Wildcat first down. The IU defense hasn’t had much success stopping Northwestern’s attack.
  • A holding penalty against Greg Brown gives the Wildcats the ball on IU’s 11.

At the end of the first quarter, the Hoosiers lead 7-3 but the Wildcats are threatening. QB C.J. Bacher has led them down the field and they face a crucial third and two coming up. Also, Nick Polk is the best player ever. (Thanks, Chris.)

  • On third, Bacher’s pass falls incomplete to Ross Lane.
  • Amado Villarreal’s 27-yard field goal attempt is wide left, and IU takes over.

IU begins their second possession with two Lewis rushes. We also just heard from IU Media Relations that Marcus Thigpen hasn’t played yet this afternoon because of an ongoing ankle injury. That paved the way for James Bailey to step in as kickoff returner, and he made the most of his opportunity taking the Wildcat’s first kick back for a 91-yard score.

  • On third and three, the Northwestern crowd revs up in hopes for a stop. Ray Fisher silences them with his 6-yard reception for the first.
  • Bryan Payton rushes 21 yards for an IU first down. The Hoosiers now have the ball in Northwestern territory.
  • James Hardy makes his first catch of the game, hauling in a 13-yard throw from Lewis for a first down. It’s now first and ten from the NW 25.
  • Lewis finds Hardy again on a slant up the middle. It’s his 171st career reception, breaking Ernie Jone’s all-time record for IU.
  • Lewis characteristically uses his feet to find the endzone, rushing 14 yards to extend IU’s lead to 14-3.
  • IU Drive summary: 80 yards, 15 plays and ends with Lewis’ 14-yard scramble for the score.

9:08 second quarter. IU 14, Northwestern 3.

  • A nice return by NW’s Sherrick McManis gives the Wildcat’s good field position at their own 38.
  • Wow. What a play.Ross Lane bobbled Bacher’s pass in the endzone, popped it up in the air, and it happened to fall right into the hands of IU safety Austin Thomas. He knelt in the endzone, giving IU the ball on the twenty.Luck just may on the Hoosiers’ side this afternoon.

Kellen Lewis leads the Hoosier offense back on the field looking to capitalize on Thomas’ interception.

  • Lewis finds Ray Fisher for an eight yard gain on third down to move the chains.
  • Payton continues to rush well. He finds four yards up the middle to move the ball to the IU 37.

IU takes a time-out, their first of the half. It seems like they’ve got the Wildcat defense on their heels this half, moving the ball pretty effectively through the first quarter and a half.

  • Kellen Lewis is down on the field. We don’t know the extent of the injury, as a hoard of IU medical staff is surrounding him.
  • He’s up, jogging off the field and appears to look good. Backup Ben Chappell has now entered the game at quarterback.
  • Chappell’s first play didn’t go so well. Northwestern Linebacker Eddie Simpson stepped in and intercepted his pass to James Hardy, and returned it untouched for a touchdown.

In one play, the Wildcats have got back into the game. Kellen Lewis has returned, and leads the Hoosiers’ drive.

  • A long run on second down by Lewis is recovered by Bryan Payton. It seems like it’s the IU QB’s 100th fumble in the past six games.
  • Bryan Payton’s run on third down isn’t enough, and the Hoosiers are forced to punt.

The Hoosiers lead 14-10 as Bacher leads the Wildcats onto the field.

  • It’s three-and-out. Geno Johnson broke up Bacher’s third down pass and the Wildcats are forced to punt.

A squib punt lands at the IU 46. With 1:01 remaining, Kellen Lewis doesn’t have much time to spare if he’s going to lead the offense down the field before the half.

  • Lewis scrambles for 12 (holds on to the ball) and slides for the first.
  • Hardy grabs a ball on the far side for a 6 yards gain. He goes out of bounds to stop the clock, and gives him the Hoosiers’ all-time career receiving yards record. It’s the second major receiving record he’s broken this afternoon.
  • Lewis’ pass is incomplete after being broken up by Northwestern’s John Gill. The Hoosiers are forced to punt, and it looks like it will be 14-10 IU at the half.

James Bailey grabs Michael Hines’ punt at the Northwestern 1-yard line. After one running play, time expires and it’s the end of the first half.


  1. Not the guy you expected to see scooting down the sideline for a long TD return, but Bailey showed a lot of burst and read that return well.

  2. Watching the replay, you can see why Bacher would throw that ball. It really did look like his man had Porter beat.

    But it took the senior corner just two steps to get back in the path of the ball, and just a second to hop up and come down with his 15th career interception.

  3. Wow, do these defenses know what’s coming.

    Usually when Indiana or Northwestern plays a game, these first few possessions are a feeling-out process for the other team’s defense.

    But today you can see that the defenses aren’t having to adjust. They’re used to seeing this. Doesn’t mean they’re stopping the offenses — although Northwestern just did — but it does mean they’re playing with less trepidation that most defenses trying to figure out the rhythms of the spread offense.

  4. Sutton is running like a guy who has missed too much of the season due to injury and is angry about it. He’s got a lot of pent-up energy.

  5. I’ve only been covering Indiana for two years now. But I think in all that time Indiana has rarely been the team with the better luck.

    Until today.

  6. Hey Zak,

    What’s the situation with McCray right now? Is he on the sideline, looking like he wants to get into the game?

    And what about Thigpen?

  7. I may have mentioned this somewhere, once or twice, in my coverage of this team, but it must be said again: Kellen Lewis is good at football.

    I’m so accustomed to watching plays from up high in the pres box, where you can sort of see how everything unfolds. From that view, I bet you could see that Lewis had a little bit of space.

    But on TV, it didn’t seem like he’d have much luck. I honestly thought he’d have to duck down through a tackle, but he just easily floated away from everything and then, whoa, there’s the end zone.

  8. William Patterson was so lost on that Tyrell Sutton long run. It’s one thing to get blocked, as the the defensive line did, but that was rough.

  9. I know you have said it about Lewis being a good football player, but as I have said all season, that Bryan Payton guy is a really good running back.

  10. Wow. Look at the way his teammates are looking at him, gathered around.

    Ben Chappell, the Bloomington South grad, appears calm on the sideline. But what a situation he might be stuck into here.

    Or do you use Blake Powers, the former QB turned TE who went back to QB?

  11. Look at how high Payton was after he got through that first tackle. If his pads are lower, he at least has a chance to power through that tackle. Instead, he’s knocked back.

  12. Hines, Bailey and Nick Polk have all played great.

    Also, in case you guys were interested, there’s two representatives here from Florida Citrus Sports in the press box. A bowl possibility for the Hoosiers?

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