Indiana defeats Illinois 31-17 for first Big Ten win

CHAMPAIGN, Ill — After five straight losses, four of which were by four points or fewer, Indiana got its long-awaited breakthrough on Saturday, defeating Illinois 31-17 in front of 47,981 on the road at Memorial Stadium.

The Hoosiers had their lowest output of the season, but junior tailback Stephen Houston scored three touchdowns, the Hoosiers took advantage of Illinois miscues and put the Illini away in a strong fourth quarter to give IU coach Kevin Wilson his first Big Ten win as the head coach at Indiana.

“I think it’s huge,” senior center Will Matte said. “We talked about it all week, chipping away. We’ve been pretty close, but just to finally get over that hump is real nice. Now we just have to keep the momentum rolling into next week.”

The Hoosiers fell behind 14-7 in the first half and were getting continually gashed by Illinois quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase and the zone-read option running game. However, Indiana tied the game on a 10-yard pass from freshman quarterback Nate Sudfeld to Houston with 10:10 to go in the second quarter.

Later in that period, the Hoosiers took advantage of Illinois’ biggest miscue. Illinois punt returner Tommy Davis fumbled a punt at the Illinois 22 and IU defensive back Greg Heban recovered it. Four plays later, Houston scored from seven yards out to put the Hoosiers up 21-14.

The Hoosiers then made it a 10-point lead thanks to another Illinois fumble. Illini tailback Donovonn Young put the ball on the carpet early in the third quarter and it was recovered by Indiana cornerback Brian Williams at the Illinois 22. The Hoosiers didn’t even get a first down on the ensuing drive, but they were already in good for position for what ended up being a 28-yard field by kicker Mitch Ewald to give the Hoosiers a 10-point cushion.

“Give credit to Indiana because they didn’t have the penalties and they didn’t turn the ball over,” Illinois coach Tim Beckman said.  “And they ended up winning the football game. We did those tings and it ended up biting us and we ended up losing the football game.”

Illinois came through with an answer on the ensuing drive, but the Hoosiers stiffened up at the goalline to make sure the Illini didn’t put seven points on the board. The Illini reached the Indiana 1, but Scheelhaase was stopped for a loss of two and the Illini had to take a field goal.

The Hooisers effectively put the game away with a 6-play, 60-yard drive in the fourth quarter. They got sizable gains on five straight runs to start the drive, then ran a play-action pass that sprung receiver Shane Wynn wide open for a 17-yard touchdown pass from Sudfeld to make it 31-17.

“That was probably the one drive that the O-line, all five guys were kind of clicking at the same time,” Matte said. “For some reason, we weren’t doing too well throughout the game, but that one drive was really key. We were able to just let loose and get out there and hit somebody.”

The Indiana defense, which recorded seven sacks and 12 tackles for loss, came through with two more critical stops down the stretch to ice it. The Illini drove to the Indiana 4-yard line, but sophomore defensive end Ryan Phillis sacked Scheelhaase for a loss of 11 yards and the Illini threw three straight incomplete passes to turn the ball over and allow Indiana to go into victory formation.

“Our deal, when we scored to go up 14 was, we’re playing 60 minutes,” Wilson said. “Let’s try our darndest not to let them in the end zone. They almost got it, but I think at the end, for those kids to fight and fight and hold them — because it would’ve been easy to let them in and say, ‘Ok, now get the onside kick. That was a huge deal by the defense to make that play. That’s a positive that I don’t think a lot of people will catch.”

AUDIO: Kevin Wilson

AUDIO: Greg Heban

AUDIO: Stephen Houston

AUDIO: Will Matte


  1. Am I looking at the Leaders Division standings correctly??

    With OSU and Penn St. in first and second, Wisconsin is in the lead for going to the Big Ten championship game in Indy. Wisconsin has a bye next week, so they will be entering the IU game at 3/2. If IU wins against Iowa, IU can beat Wisconsin to tie for third in the Leaders division (both teams 3/3) and then IU will have the head-to-head tie breaker with Wisconsin. Thus, IU controls their own destiny in going to the Big Ten Championship game…..

    Also, Wisconsin still has @ IU, OSU and @ Penn St.

  2. If IU can beat Iowa this weekend, the Wisconsin @ Indiana game will have all sorts of implications.


  3. The defense is absolutely hitting harder. They are coming up and putting some smack down. We have had the occasional good defensive player but this is the kind of hard hitting attitude that we must have but never have.

    The defensive mindset is changing. It has to.

  4. That’s right, & that means it’s possible, if IU beats Wisconsin, but loses 2 other of the remaning 4 games they’d be 3-5, 5-7, but if wisconsin loses out, they’d be 3-5 in conference, & IU could be in the conference championship game, & with a 5-7 record, THAT would open up all sorts of odd possibilities. If IU were to win the conference championship game, would they be bowl eligible at 6-7? On 1 hand, you’d think they must be, on the other, they couldn’t be, so…?

  5. Congrats to the “D”, run game/OL, ST’s, Sudfeld and Staff for the WIN with a Heinekens.

  6. This game was huge! The defense did not look particularly good but they made huge plays when they needed it most and thats all that matters. That has to give them so much confidence going into these last few games. Their hard work finally paid off and they were finally able to slam the door on somebody in the 4th quarter.

    The rest of our schedule is very winnable. Call me crazy, but I think we can steal at least one of the wisc/penn state games. Wisconsin has a very tough remaining schedule, it’s very doable that we end up in Indy. Either way, we are going bowlin’!

  7. Heinekens, really Clarion? Tastes like skunk. I’m with you on the imported lager though. Stella? Harp? Peroni, maybe?

  8. I do not know how much better recruiting can get but this win will enhance the possibilities of the FB “movement”. Also the coaching jobs Fabris and Hagen have been performing has started to bud.

  9. Clarion, you haven’t heard of Harp? Come on, it’s made by Guinness. I hope you’ve heard of Guinness.

    Stella Artois is Belgian, Peroni is Italian. They are both on the shelves at the local Kroger. I highly recommend. Stick in the freezer for 15 minutes before enjoying.

  10. Clarion, you called this win…nice one! I was out the last 2 days and just got to a computer…Chet, I said the same to my wife, I have never and I mean never seen a defense from IU hit harder and play with more intensity than they did yesterday…they were pumped and it showed. I sat with my dad and we looked at each other in bewilderment! I am proud to be a Hoosier today…stopped at a store on the way home and saw a guy head to toe in Purdue gear and I had to make eye contact and smile! Not often IU has gone on the road to win and Minny puts a whoopin on PeeU. I will admit that with recruiting and the way IU looks now…I am shocked all the way around. My dad asked if I thought it was partly because the Big 10 is so down and I think the answer if 50/50…yes the Big 10 is down but the coaching staff seems to be doing the right things and the boys are playing hard. If I have ever been anything on here it is from the heart honest. Quick story, as I was leaving with my 6 and 7 year old after the OSU game I saw a late 20’s buck fan and he smiled and I said…”bet you did not think it would be this close”…he replied, “No, your coach is turning it around here”…I replied, “I am starting to think you are right but man, I think he is an ass, my opinion anyway” and he said, “Maybe that is what it will take”. That comment he made stuck with me! I am all about good character and I think Wilson is slowly improving in personal areas, even the way he handles the press and himself on campus, from my personal experience he is a different man today than when he got here. Whatever the case I am happy to be a Hoosier today…he and his staff and team have made me proud, very proud and I hope this continues!!!

  11. Jpat, its nice to see you coming around to what most on this blog have been saying from day 1 about Wilson. I don’t think coach CW has changed much at all since the beginning; I think that like CTC he had a philosophy from day 1, stuck to it, and knew that change wouldn’t come overnight.

    I think the real change is happening inside of you, and it’s good to see; you are an honest writer and have a nice way of self-expression.

  12. Thanks J Pat but I was not looking for fame. I have beaten Vegas up badly after the previous 3 outings and laid it all out there for this game. When you put your $ where your mouth is you almost have to declare the prediction. Great win both ways. I am starting to agree with you about Coach Wilson coming to Bloomington with an attitude. I now believe that image was intentionally developed to display not only for the players but fans, institution, alumni, opponents and game days but also the FB staff in particular. Yes I now think it was brilliantly scripted because he transitioned to the present day image at precisely the right time; although I still think he is a hard ass. In another season(maybe this year for some)he will be an IU hero. Great story for IU.

    …POTFB!! along with Iowa-Wisky-PSU…

  13. Congrats to the IU Football team for putting together a complete game and earning the Big Ten victory!

    Don’t know what it is about Sudfeld, but he seems very confident and composed for his age…and the whole team responds to it. Sudfeld has earned the start versus Iowa next week…and most of the fans now believe that IU can win this game.

    BTW, how great would it be if DT Darius Latham commited to IU this week?!

  14. Although I’m a bit dissapointed at the play of the O-line Saturday, after watching the game again, I’m stoked about a couple of emerging factors that the team is displaying: Depth, 1st of all. We wore Illinois down in the 4th Quarter, on both sides of the ball really. & let me tell you, for this team to have more depth than a big ten opponent is remarkable. The cupboard wad soooo bare for CKW as he came in last year, yet he’s been able, largely through willingness to pay true Freshman, to build real quality depth in a very short amount of time, especially after starting with NO depth, this is jsut fantastic & very hard to do.
    The other aspect that I like so mush is the way we take care of the ball. Often times, fumbles are a crapshoot. A lot of luck involved, but considering that we have not put the ball on the carpeI suspect that the coaching staff has a major hand in that fact. All teams coach ball security, ad nauseum, some better than others, & I’m startin to think our staff belongs in that category. As far as interceptions, I think it’s mostly about the offense coach Litrell has instilled, b=very QB friendly & not a lot of difficult reads. Bottom line, the coaching staff is doing a nice job, & these things don;t graduate or get injured. We still ahven’t won a home game in conference for….a long time, I’m trying to remember, 0 wins the last 2 years at home, Purdue the year before we lost to in the fianle ofcourse, the 1st 2 games this year, that’s at least 11 in a row. It ends this coming Saturday. Actually, it’s at 12 in a row, last win vs. Illinois in ’09, 27-14.

  15. Chris K., first I wanna say that the quality of your posts has gone way up now that you seem to be staying above the tit for tat silliness that goes on all too often around here. Smart move.

    Yeah, but where did that D-line come from? I hope it portends for things to come.

    Sure, we took our lumps with freshmen early but they had so much more potential than many of the past years’ recruits. It seems to be paying off a season sooner than I expected (not that they are winning many games but they are certainly ‘in’ more games at the end). I think the guys on the team saw the writing on the wall with personnel turnover. Most folks knew it would probably happen and it was a good thing for the program.

    Ball security, I gotta think they are doing something different in practice. Their ball security is almost freakish considering, as you said, the amount of luck involved. But there is some sort of philosophical change. Mediocre teams are not gonna win if they turn the ball over but they might if the opposition does. Ask Tony Romo (aka ‘the human turnover”).

    I was in and out watching the game as these days you can ‘go back’, skip commercials, etc., so I’m sure I missed a lot but it seemed as though they simplified the offense for Sudfield. IMHO, they would have given Cam the red light for some throws that they didn’t give to Nate. Not a complaint or a criticism, just an observation (and maybe giving Cam the red light was the wrong move in the first place).

    Anyway, good post. Keep above the fray.

  16. Current Division Standings: IU 1-3.
    UW 3-2.

    The remaining schedules: UW v. (bye) IU, OSU, PSU.
    IU v. Iowa, UW, PSU, PU.

    If IU wins out, it will be 5-3.
    IF UW wins out (except for v. IU), it will be 5-3.
    Tiebreaker to IU by virtue of win over UW.

    If IU finishes 3-1 (but beats UW), it will be 4-4.
    If UW loses to IU and splits v. OSU and PSU, it will finish 4-4.
    Tiebreaker to IU.

    If UW loses out, it will be 3-5.
    If IU beats UW and one other foe, it will be 3-5.
    Tiebreaker to IU.


  17. So, we could go to the big ten title game at 5-7, & if we would win that game, we would go to the rose bowl at 6-7? Does the B(C)S know about this?

  18. Does the B(C)S know about this? …great comment!

    We’ve got them all puking in fear…with one B1G win!

  19. As I recall, a gawdawful UCLA team, that ended up 6-8, played in the Pac 12 Championship game last year due to post season bans. Their last regular season game the week before they lost 50-0. They were never a threat to win it, though.

    It happens.

    There are probably going to be undefeated BCS teams left out of the title hunt this year, Notre Dame being one of them.

  20. Chet, I eyeballed your comment about the DL in #23 and I of course bang the drum loud for Coaches Fabris and Hagen about that improvement. It has been so long since there has been a top notch coaching staff for FB at IU, we almost do not want to believe it(you get what you pay for). I just read this AM IU is #21 in the country in sack differential with +9, our D has achieved 20 sacks and the Offense has allowed 11. In contrast PUke is #89 with -5. That sack ratio, our T/O ratio and improving ST’s play screams good coaching. W/L does not show the amazing improvement everywhere but it is very apparent when examining the details. Your eyeballs saw correctly.

  21. I don’t know the resume of every coach on the team but the eyeball test is telling me that this is the best group since I started following the team back in the paleolithic era. The improvement in fundamentals, footwork, etc., from game to game is striking.

    Of course, it better be, as young as this team is. I also don’t remember ever having this many talented underclassmen.

  22. DITTO! …Paleolithic era…that was rich…nice touch…I remember those times…

    You probably already know, besides Hagen coaching DT’s and Fabris the DE’s they also handle ST’s. Those 2 are not afraid to be fast, fluid and flexible.

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