Indiana at Illinois football; notes and comments from Andy Graham

FINAL: INDIANA 31, ILLINOIS 17. First Big Ten win for Kevin Wilson’s program. First win in six close games. Big. The home folks might be a bit fired up for the Iowa game now.

5:48: Indiana 31, Illinois 17. Finally, the Indiana offense awakes from its second-half sleep and roars 60 yards in six plays, mostly on the ground, capped by a beautiful play-fake in when Sudfeld appeared ready to run then pulled up for an 18-yard scoring pass to a wide-open Shane Wynn for a huge TD.


2:33: Indiana 24, Illinois 17. Impressive 15-play, 62-yard drive by Illinois, but IU’s David Cooper snuffs Scheelhaase on a 3rd-and-goal from the 1 to force a 20-yard Taylor Zalewski field goal (which hit the upright but went through). IU’s defense still looks extremely shaky against the run, and just in general.

8:04: Indiana 24, Illinois 14. Hoosiers fail to fully capitalize on a golden scoring chance after Illinois coughs up a fumble at its own 20. Three straight D’Angelo Roberts runs produced nine yards, and Mitch Ewald kicked a 28 yard field goal. Gotta wonder about the play calling there a bit, with a chance for the Hoosiers to really stick a knife in and twist it. Kevin Wilson made the point last week that settling for field goals on the road is not a recipe for victory.

Illinois winning the line of scrimmage but losing the game so far. Unusual. Might not stay that way. obviously, in either respect.

HALFTIME: INDIANA 21, ILLINOIS 14: The Illini have played generous hosts today. They kept Indiana’s second TD drive alive with a reaallllyyyy late hit out of bounds on a 3rd-and-long play, then set up IU’s third TD by fumbling a punt away at their own 22. To the Hoosiers’ credit, they capitalized. Nate Sudfeld, who took over for Cam Coffman at quarterback for IU with 2:09 left in the first quarter, played well. He’s 6-for-7 passing for 73 yards and a TD so far.

Illinois, which entered as the Big Ten’s worst rushing team, kept gouging IU severely on short-side boundary stretch plays and read-options, amassing 155 yards on 30 carries in the half (5.2 per tote). A big key will be how Indiana adjusts at halftime, because the Hoosiers need better contain from their defensive ends than they got in the first half. Indiana’s ground game has been lame (20 for 37), but Stephen Houston has two rushing TDs.

Illinois gets the ball to start the second half.


Griffin Dahlstrom, who is a really smart kid, makes a dumb play with 4:09 left in the half. Scheelhaase was clearly running out of bounds for what was going to set up an Illini punt but Dahlstrom made contact with him well beyond the sideline to draw a flag. But the IU defense eventually holds as Illinois decides to punt into the endzone from IU’s 36 on 4th down, for some unknown reason.

4:42: Indiana 21, Illinois 14. Illini fumbled a punt, setting up IU at the Illinois 22, and the Hoosiers capitalized. Sudfeld drew Illinois’ Glenn Foster offsides on a 4th and 1, and Houston cruised in for the TD around left end from 7 yards out.

10:10: Indiana 14, Illinois 14. Michael Buchanan hit Nate Sudfeld way out of bounds on a play that should have produced a 3-and-out Hoosier punt but instead kept the Hoosier drive alive with a first down at their own 46. Sudfeld made the Illini pay on the next snap, lofting a perfect post pattern bomb to Cody Latimer for 48 yards to the Illini 6. After a 1 yard run and a procedure penalty, IU ran a fake-left, screen-right to Houston for a 10 yard scoring pass.

12:12: Illinois 14, Indiana 7. The Hoosier defense continues to look horrible on the ground against the Big Ten’s worst rushing team. The Illini keep running stretch plays to the short-side boundary and it’s like Indiana has nobody playing outside contain at all. The defensive ends might as well not be on the field, and there is no linebacker there. Illinois is biting off huge chunks of rushing yardage. The scoring drive was 55 yards in 8 plays, all on the ground, with Nate Scheelhaase taking it in on a quarterback draw from 5 yards out.


A Nate Sudfeld sighting with 2:06 left in the first quarter, but it was with IU backed up by a punt to its own 6. He completed both passes he tried, but it ended up being a 4th-and-1 and a punt. Interesting to know if it was a planned switch, in that it came in the wake of a Coffman interception, but that pick was as good as a punt. It was 3rd-and-long and Coffman let it rip deep for Wynn. The ball was intercepted at the Illinois 18, but it was no big issue as it put the ball 37 yards downfield.

6:49: Indiana 7, Illinois 7: Hoosier offense responds with a 9-play, 75-yard TD run, capped by 2-yard plunge from Stephen Houston. Big plays were a 3rd-and-11 completion for 19 yards down the west sideline to Cody Latimer to the Illini 46 and a 23-yard catch and run from D’Angelo Roberts carrying to the Illini 3 after Cam Coffman scrambled to his left out of the pocket. The score marked the ninth straight game Houston has tallied a TD for Indiana, matching a streak for James Hardy from 2006-07 (no word on what the school record streak is>

9:49: Illinois 7, Indiana 0: Terrible start for the Hoosiers. Indiana went 3-and-out, then the previously moribund Illinois offense (zero points in its previous game at Michigan) made IU’s defense look bad on both the ground and through the air in going 73 yards in 8 plays. The TD came as Flo Hardin got beaten on a flat pass for the TD, a 2-yarder to Eddie Viliunas from Nathan Scheelhaase.

PREGAME: This trip always brings to mind the fact Red Grange played here. I was thinking about that even before I saw his statue in front of the Memorial Stadium entrance. Dick Butkus and Ray Nitschke played linebacker here, too, when I was a kid. There is an overt sense of history in this place, which is something I always relish.

One of these teams will make a little history for its coach today, in terms of creating a first Big Ten career coaching win. Indiana has come closer to that than Illinois has, but the Illini have played the tougher schedule to date. It was noted on ESPN’s excellent Big Ten blog this week that Illinois first-year coach Tim Beckman told his team how Cortez informed his Spanish compatriots they would either conquer or die when they arrived in Mexico — he ordered them to burn their boats. It was “conquer or die.” That’s how Beckman approached the Illini bye week, and we’ll see how his team responds. It’s the Illinois homecoming (and another reminder that Indiana probably has providing the homecoming opposition as often as any major college team over the years) and the Illini will be stoked. But perhaps the biggest question is how hungry the Hoosiers are after so many close misses. We shall see. Thanks for checking in.


  1. Sudfeld looks very good, I was hoping he would play extended minutes. He looks much better than Coffman. Defense looks horrendous as usual though.

  2. In the second half our offense has gone from 1-dimensional to 1/2-dimensional. The defense is keeping us in the game, but dear god, it looks like we’ll be “playing not to lose” up till the end. And we know how that usually goes.

  3. Go Hoosiers!!! Keep Sudfield at command and things happen! Only three more games to go bowling! A win is a win! The players and coaches deserve the “W”.

  4. Thrilled for this win, but so bummed for the earlier close losses. Ball State, Michigan State, and Navy should have been Ws. That would put IU at 6-2 and bowl-eligible already with winnable games vs. Iowa, at Penn State, and at Purdue.

    But there is progress on the football field, and I’m pleased to see that.

  5. FINALLY THE BREAKS GO IU’S WAY. I don’t care how IU did it, the fact is they did it, on the road, coming from behind, against a Big Ten opponent, against a team that beat them pretty sounding a year ago. Progress! (Hey JT, you can now kiss Kevin Wilson’s ass!)

    It will be interesting to see if Sudfeld will be the starter for the remainder of the season. Every time I’ve seen him play, he looks great. If Coffman starts again next week, I’m guessing it’s because Wilson believes Sudfeld is more comfortable coming off the bench. Some times, the pressure of being designated the starter can be a problem for a young player. It will be interesting to see how this plays out.

    IU’s defense still sucks, but it looked like today, they bent, but did not break. They made two key stops when it counted most.

  6. Shocked and so happy they held on. Wilson now has the same number of wins that Lynch got in his second season, and he did it with a lot worse of players and closer games.

  7. HoosierSmitty; I concur, with one exception. I think back to the BSU game, the Navy game and the MSU game, and I wince at the thought of what could have been this year.

    I don’t think IU has a realistic shot at defeating Penn State in Happy Valley this year. PS has been coming on strong the last three weeks, and IU’s defense will have a hard time with PS’s ground game. But IU can beat Iowa and Purdue, and that would provide a lot of momentum to the program and create a lot of excitement for 2013. In relative terms, four wins in 2012 would be wonderful and five wins would be huge!

  8. The defense played better today. Give credit where credit is due. Illinois earned all their points. Multiple sacks and tackles for loss. Replogle, Heban and the rest played well.

    Illinois is not very good, but its good to play well and win. I hope they concentrate on Iowa and do not get ahead of themselves…

    Nice job.

  9. Podunker,

    Yeah, you’re probably right. Penn State is really playing well lately. If the game was in Bloomington, we might have a chance, but with the PSU faithful rallying around that talented team, it’s a tough sell to think we could win that game.

    Been thrilled to watch competitive football this year for the Hoosiers. Wilson is proving that he can turn things around in Bloomington.

  10. IU’s defense is just not set up to stop a bigger, stronger run-oriented offenses like PSU. IU’s offense can score against PSU, but I don’t think IU’s defense will be able to get off the field. I predict PSU will have a lot of long, time eating drives that will exhaust IU’s defense and provide limited opportunities for IU’s offense. However, if IU can score first, then get a stop against PSU early in the game, it could get interesting.

  11. Maybe, maybe not, the run games that have hurt IU D most this season are the ones who have QB’s with RB skills. Teams with run offenses like Iowa and PSU may not gash IU as easily or as often.

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