Hoosiers down Northwestern, improve to 7-2

At the head of the Hoosier pack was Lance Bryant, one hand holding the football to the sky as he ran off the field and into the locker room.

The final first-half play of IU’s 34-3 victory encapsulated the state of both programs. The one-win Wildcats were lateraling the ball all over the field, just trying to get something going in the final few seconds of the quarter. But in their way was an opportunistic Hoosier, the defensive end Bryant, snatching the ball and zooming into the locker room on a full sprint.

Takeaway No. 3, and the night was still young.

“He just happened to cut back to me, and he looked me in the eyes, and threw it right to me,” Bryant said. “Caught it, did what I had to do, and took it into the half.”

IU came out of its last bye with four very winnable games on the horizon. The Hoosiers (7-2, 4-2 Big Ten) head into their next bye having capitalized on all four, matching the program’s longest conference winning streak since 1993. They have not only clinched a bowl bid but the program’s first winning season since 2007.

Rutgers, they held to one passing yard. Maryland, they rode a backup quarterback to victory. Nebraska, they did that again, but in front of 90,000 fans. This time, the Hoosiers ripped the football from the Wildcats (1-7, 0-6) early and often, taking their heart with it.

By the time the ball was handed to Peyton Ramsey, with Michael Penix Jr. leaving a game early for the third time this season, the Hoosiers had already established their superiority. Questions about the health of IU’s preferred starter remain, but the Hoosiers are, nevertheless, building a season to remember.

They now have a week to rest before going to the road to face No. 5 Penn State in Happy Valley.

“This is a very hungry football team that is not satisfied with where they are,” IU coach Tom Allen said. “I don’t think they are shocked with what they are doing. They expected it. There is no question that not a lot of people believed in us or felt that way, and that’s OK.

“It doesn’t matter to us. Earmuffs and blinders.”

The IU defense got off to an inauspicious start, with Northwestern quarterback Aidan Smith sprinting 22 yards down the right side of the field. But on the very same play, freshman corner Tiawan Mullen was able to erase the error, reaching in to strip the ball from the Wildcat quarterback.

Mullen had no thoughts about actually tackling Smith. In film during the week, the Hoosiers noticed how loosely the Northwestern quarterback was carrying the ball.

“As soon as he was running towards me, I knew my game plan,” Mullen said. “I was able to make the play and strip it. I had the strength that (strength) Coach (David) Ballou and the staff gave me, so I used it.”

IU’s initial 11-play field-goal drive was followed by a 47-yard touchdown drive. For 8:08 of the first 8:20 of the game, the Hoosiers owned the ball, and they had a 10-0 lead.

IU ended up holding the Wildcats to 199 yards of offense, compared to the Hoosiers’ 414.

Another Wildcat turnover set up an even shorter IU touchdown drive. Redshirt freshman defensive tackle Jonathan King crashed into the backfield to blow up a run by Drake Anderson. Sophomore Cam Jones came right behind him, forcing his third fumble of the season.

Mullen fell on it.

Just 18 yards removed from the end zone, the Hoosiers worked themselves into position for a Penix sneak to make it 17-3 with 11:10 remaining in the second quarter. Penix, who was replaced by Ramsey with 2:13 left in the first half, finished 10-of-15 passing for 162 yards.

Ramsey completed 7-of-10 for 108 yards and a touchdown. Allen said after the game Penix was “dinged” near the end of the half and would be evaluated Sunday.

“Once again, Peyton Ramsey just continues to be just a great teammate, great player for us,” Allen said. “We have two quarterbacks that have played almost equal time for us. They are both a huge part of our program and very proud of both of them. Great to have two.”

Northwestern made a first-half switch at quarterback, too, swapping Smith for Hunter Johnson. His first drive got the Wildcats out to midfield, but that’s where it stalled.

IU then went 85 yards on eight plays, including consecutive receptions of 41 and 35 yards by Whop Philyor. Stevie Scott, who finished with 116 yards on 26 carries, punched in a two-yard touchdown to increase the advantage to 24-3.

Scott’s third score came on a swing pass, jaunting 20 yards to the house to put the Hoosiers up, 31-3, late in the third. Logan Justus hit his 12th field goal in 12 attempts this season to increase the lead to 34-3.

Such a wide spread in the Hoosiers’ seventh win had Scott answering a question about the possibility of his team being ranked in the next Associated Press poll.

“I would definitely love that,” Scott said. “I’m very blessed for this program to be changing around. If we hit the AP top 25, we’ll be very excited, but we won’t get big-headed at all. We’ll still be working, grinding hard, taking it game by game.”

IU certainly is rolling. This was the Hoosiers’ eighth 30-plus-point game in nine contests. This was Northwestern’s second-worst loss of the season, trailing only a 49-point defeat to Ohio State.

The Wildcats have scored six total points in their last three games. Allen expressed some sympathy postgame for his coaching counterpart, Pat Fitzgerald.

“It was just a very systematic, dominant performance by a football team in all three phases against a very mature team that’s played a brutal schedule,” Allen said. “Coach Fitz is one of my guys I look up to so much in this conference. I have so much respect for him, and his kids play so hard.

“It’s a fine line in this league … so I knew it wasn’t going to be easy, and it’s not been easy, and we’ve just got to stay the course, keep working to get better each and every week, enjoy the bye week. It’s going to be critical that we get healthy and get better this week, do a lot of recruiting, but at the same time, these guys are on a mission, and I’m proud of them.”

40 comments

  1. I am impressed! I was afraid that IU might have a letdown today. But they looked good. NU has perhaps one of the worst Big Ten offense I’ve ever seen, but IU beat them up like a superior team should beat up a weak team. Congratulations to TA and staff for having these young guys ready to play and securing IU’s first winning season in 11 years!

    NU’s head coach embarrassed himself in the first half and just after it ended. He looked like a fool for complaining about blatant PI calls. In fact, there are several that the refs didn’t call.

    I continue to be encouraged because IU keeps winning, and yet the room for improvement is so obvious. My only concern is our very fragile starting QB. I saw no action that should have caused him to be injured today, so I can only assume he aggravated something incurred previously. But given how fragile he seems to be, why would you ever call a play where he has the choice of running the ball? if he comes back, he should be prohibited from running the ball unless he has to scramble.

  2. This is Indiana football! The offense can score; the passing is excellent; the running game is now effective; the special teams are very good. Excellent game tonight. Get Penix healthy for the game at PSU. Recruit, recruit, recruit! Someone buy Coach Fitzgerald a copy of the rule book. Each of those pass interference penalties was legit ( IU was lucky on the no-call on Stallings late tackle to the ground). 8-4 (BeatPurdue)! Go to bowl game and win! 9-4 sounds great!

  3. This isn’t negative, just an observation. After the game, Robert Smith (OSU former running back and color commentator) was asked by the play-by-play guy if he was ‘sold’ on IU. His response kind of reflected my feelings. He agreed that the program is getting better. Pretty understated after a 30+ win. Here’s likely why. The OL has yet to have a strong run block push. That includes vs Connecticut, Ball State etc while Pass plays are taking to long to develop. Still too many dead ball penalties. I can only hope this run will convince some top potential recruits. As of tonite, only Illinois and Rutgers are rated lower. However, 7 and 2 is a major improvement + Allen is .500.

  4. It went just like I said it would go I had it 31-0 IU because Northwestern as I said before they have no playmakers of any kind on offense it was obvious that were not going to score alot it was kind of painful to watch to be honest,the QB situation is a mess once I started watching the game from the 2nd quarter on they did not come close to putting anything together on offense other than a first here and there,Indiana did what it should have done blow them out I didn’t see what most you people were so worried about going into this game but anyway I will say this Michael Penix worries me has has now left or missed parts of what 5 or 6 games now I just don’t think he can be relied on to stay healthy atleast for the rest of this season as they still face 2 very good defenses to close out hopefully the bye will do him some good

    1. IU has a bye and two “opportunity games” vs #5 PSU and #13 MI. So two L’s are ok. One win would be awesome! Then BeatPurdue! Penix led IU to a 24-3 first half lead. He is the one player who separates This team from past teams! Keep starting him if he can play. Stop running him if this is causing his injuries to become aggravated. Enjoy the ride! IU is 7-2 going on 8-2!

  5. Give Allen a new 5-year contract with a base salary of $3.5 Million, Fred Glass should announce it now, not after the end of the regular season. I guarantee you, it will result in helping TA recruit even better players. Then, going forward, all you have to do is figure out how to get 53,000 people into MS fo every home football game.

  6. What a fun game to watch and seeing the team win to guarantee a winning season. This offense is very fun to watch and coach DeBoer finds ways to get the ball into the end zone. IU demolished a defense was one of the better ones in the country and B1G. STs have stayed steady and help the team in field position. Defense is improving and becoming a team that creates take-aways.

    7 & 2 tied with Michigan for fourth best record in the B1G the whole B1G. This next stretch of games gives IU a chance to knock of one the big boys and then win the bucket game. NU was supposed to be a dangerous team for IU yet they dominated the Wildcats. How good can this team be, this next stretch of games coming off the bye week will tell. IU is already assured of a winning regular season with a chance to do even more this season.

    We will see how serious the administration will be about building this program by what they do with paying the football coaches. I hope this season improves the 2020 class to keep this run going. Bring in several OL players, a dynamic offensive player, and a big time DE would finish this class.

    We need to enjoy this team as Mullen says it is a new wave at IU with these players.

  7. Already a massive success. First 7 win season since ’07. The bucket is nearly a must and will be a serious challenge regardless. A win against one of U of M or PSU would catapult this season into territory not seen since the late 80s or early 90s. If need be – and assuming not a serious injury – I’d hold Penix out until Michigan and/or Purdue, as those seem like the most winnable options. Total respect and admiration for Ramsey. We are not incapable of wining the remaining games with him at the helm. We are just a different animal with Penix in there.

  8. Also, being realistic our turnaround isn’t going to immediately return weekly sell outs. But some level of noticeable attendance boost would be nice. Those who were at the game, what was the crowd size like at kickoff? I suppose Meatchicken will be a sell out b/c they travel well. Only home game left.

  9. I was at the game. Late arriving crowd as usual. the student section filled up as the game started. Cleared out at halftime. By the end of the third quarter most people were headed home. Another great win. Fun to be at a game when we aren’t sweating the finish!!!! Hope Hoosier Nation comes out for the Michigan game. Hate being surrounded by annoying Michigan fans.

  10. Proud of this team. I didn’t see us winning against Nebraska on the road as a slight road underdog. We are beating the teams we are supposed to and we actually have 2 QBs. Both are special. One is a highlight real but injury prone and the other is the ultimate teammate. If would just clean up penalties, this team could really start to play/beat anyone. I’m glad I was wrong about Allen and his staff. Hopefully, the fans will start to show up.

  11. What a great game to attend. It was brisk out but like my 9 year old Grandson said it is FB season.
    After 9 games it is most apparent the only thing that held the offense and Ramsey back the last 2 seasons was Mike DeBord as OC and D probably Coach Allen stretching himself to thin. Also tip my hat to S&C guys helping to build depth. Seems nobody runs out of gas in the 4th quarter. A very B1G + for the future of the program. All in!

    1. Um . . . . HC . . .
      Exactly where was DeBord at holding Ramsey back against Ohio State this year??? Looked just like some games from last year. Actually, PR did better against OSU last year at Columbus than he did this year in Bloomington. Let’s not fool ourselves, IUFB is doing something for the first time in a long time that it hasn’t been able to do, that is, being able to beat the teams it can and should. However, if we look at the ncaa to date defensive rankings of the teams beaten, IUFB is not beating the better caliber defensive teams in the B1G. As I said, IUFB is beating the teams it can and should beat. That is a good thing.

      IUFB, like MN, got very fortunate this year with the schedule playing out favorably for once. You have to take advantage of those opportunities if you want to build a program. There have been many years in the past where IUFB was not able to take advantage of those opportunities. This is to the team being built and TA & his staff’s credit. Nobody saw Nebraska, NW, and Maryland being decimated with injuries. We were wondering where the 5th win would come from at the start of the year.

      There is an old adage, “You have to crawl before you can walk.” IUFB hasn’t even been able to crawl for a very long time. TA has the program finally crawling, let’s hope this will continue long enough to the point where IUFB can finally start walking!!!

      1. I think it’s time to acknowledge just how few mistakes Peyton Ramsey commits in a football game. Many of these victories are due to this young man playing with some very steady nerves and knowing not to play beyond his abilities. It’s a rare thing to see a Hoosier quarterback who doesn’t do the dumb crap to lose a game…or make a game we’re in control closer than it needs to be.

        Penix makes great throws and gives some much needed spunk. We’ve yet to really learn if he would be as steady as Ramsey for four quarters. Interesting combination of two quarterbacks….One with oodles of natural talent…The other with oodles of composure. We’ve been fortunate to not always need both equations for winning at the same time.
        Games against Michigan and PSU (OSU earlier in season) are the sorts of teams where both equations are needed in one sturdy qb (extreme talent and nearly mistake-free composure).

      2. Mike DeBord was a piker. A fraud, compared to DeBoer. Yes, indeed, let us not fool ourselves, the Buckeyes of ’18’ are nothing like the Bucks of ’19’. We can all exclaim MP being a Hoosier the positive it is. But the word positive and the very inept DeBord can’t be used in the same sentence.

  12. Overall great game! No let down whatsoever. Will be interesting to see if they will be able to give Penn State a run for their money.

    This team certainly deserves better support from the students and local fans. It’s either too cold, too hot, too windy, too rainy, too early of a starting time, too late of a starting time, or any other too you can imagine. Even Purdue mustered 50,000 to watch their 2-6 Boilers play Nebraska. I know, there is nothing else to do in West Lafayette, while Bloomington is a mecca for just about everything.

    I think Penix got hurt again on a similar play as to a few weeks ago. He ran and when tackled, the defender landed with his full weight on top of Penix’s chest/rib cage. When the camera showed him getting up, he put both hands on the front neck part of his shoulder pads and pulled out and seemed to grimace a little. He, however, stayed in the game at that time. Was his last play the QB sneak for the TD. If so, there was certainly nothing on that play alone that should have necessitated a trip to the locker room.

    One other quick comment. I don’t think TA is bringing Jack Tuttle along like he should. Tuttle could have come in before the last possession, and he could have been allowed to throw a couple passes, especially on 3rd and 4th downs. He has gotten absolutely no meaningful live reps since very early in the season. Then, they have him keep the ball on 4th and long and he takes a pretty good hit. With Penix’s injury proclivity, Tuttle is a play away from being “the man” during the next 3 games. Will he be ready if called upon?

    1. Ranger,
      I didn’t see the game, but I saw someone post on another site about that TD run by MP, they thought they saw one of the NW players land a kidney punch on him in the pile. I would like to know if that actually happened. Cam is lost for 2 halves for targeting, but a hard kidney punch, if it actually happened, is not equally concerning???

  13. It will take season after season of success to change a culture to equal 45 to 50 thousand average in football attendance. One or two seasons might give a temporary boost. However, IU football didn’t get in their fan attendance situation overnight and it won’t be solved overnight until their are several continuing successful seasons.
    I remember as a kid growing up the media including the newspaper… the big 3 IU, Purdue, ND represented Indiana sports at higher level beyond high school. Then, there was the Butter Bulldogs followed by Indiana State and Ball State along with the Indianapolis Indians. Then, Pacers were up start in ABA turned NBA and then came the Baltimore Colts to Indianapolis and ruined what was. I HATE PROFESSIONAL SPORTS AND THE NEGATIVE IMPACT IT HAS ON WHAT WAS AND WHAT COULD BE. Most are to blind to see it.

  14. PR is hard to knock out of game to say the least. It seems that JT could have gotten some more meaningful reps this season. Maybe, the thought is roll the dice given durability of PR plus have almost 0 chance of possible injury to JT in case he is ever needed. Maybe, he is getting prepared as to address this potential situation in practice. Practice is not game experience. However, in this situation it could be rational.

  15. ESPN power rankings this morning have the Hoosiers at 25. As far as their schedule this season it is comparable to over rated Oklahoma in SOS.

  16. Three observations. First, the ‘red zone’ plays for IU look more like ,….”duh, well we got here, now what?” Secondly, the planned runs for Penix when not required make me flinch. I don’t know what DeBoar is thinking! Yes, Penix is capable if plays breakdown, but considering his ongoing physical setbacks this not the brightest strategy. Finally, this OL needs to be able to run block and team needs to mix up the RB position with someone with quickness and speed. For all intents and purposes, Scott III is a bruising fullback.

      1. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a fullback move like Stevie Scott. Sampson James might move more like FB but certainly not Scott.

  17. thinkaboutit – Yes, there was a NW player trying to punch the ball out and he could have hit Penix in the chest/rib/back/kidney area, although I would assume Penix is wearing protective pads in those areas where a mere punch would be ineffective.

    Brad – Who would you recommend at RB to mix it up? Scott is hardly just a fullback, as he does have some speed when he gets going. So far, Sampson James and Ronnie Walker have not shown that the y can get past the line of scrimmage to showcase their speed advantage over Scott, except for Walker on that one swing pass against possibly EI where he ran down the sideline for a TD.

  18. James looks like he needs confidence. Looks like he is more of inside runner also. Where Scott is running well with confidence with a little swagger.
    MP halftime 24-3
    PR second half 7-0 (though IU wasn’t trying necessarily to score late in game)

  19. Scott is a stud, and he absolutely decimates defensive backs and safeties after breaking through the line. IU’s running game is getting better as the season progresses, but I suspect we’ll face our toughest test in two weeks. As a true freshman, James is getting carries, but he’s just not as big/strong as Scott, so he can’t make his own holes yet. He’ll be a good one over the next three seasons. I have total trust in the way Hart is managing and developing his running backs. Hart is an excellent coach.

    t, I hope you’re wrong about how long it will take before fans start filling Memorial Stadium. Crowd size at home games and fan enthusiasm/support have a big impact on recruiting. If we want more 4-star players to sign up with TA, IU FB needs better fan support NOW.

    This next week would be a great time for Glass to complete and announce the new contract for TA (and maybe a couple other assistants). It can take effect January 1 or whenever, after this season is completed, but it should be announced before the PSU game so it generates positive buzz in the media and on the recruiting trail. Fred Glass does not seem to possess great situational awareness.

    HC has got it right. Taking his nine-year old grandson to the game to watch IU win. Good for you, HC. Sounds like you both had a great experience and one he will remember for the rest of his life. You’ve probably created another life-long Hoosier fan. Well done!

    I saw the punches (there were two) delivered to Penix on the QB carry into the end zone. The first one may have been an attempt to dislodge the ball, but the second one was definitely a dirty play and came well after Penix was in the end zone, with his back on top of the pile. Not sure where the punch landed, but at first I thought Penix may have taken it to his groin. Not sure if that punch caused the injury, but it was certainly a dirty play.

    I completely agree with the comment about what appears to be the failure to develop Tuttle. First, he should have been put into the game sooner than he was. And secondly, he should have been allowed to throw passes. It is hard to criticize TA this morning, but he seems to be ignoring the risk of PR getting hurt and the opportunity to develop his talented but inexperienced third-string QB. There’s no certainty that PR will be on the roster next season. And as fragile as Penix is, TA is going to need a back-up that has thrown a pass in Big Ten competition. I hope this blin spot does not bite TA or DeBoer in the butt.

    1. Po, my oldest Son and his family (they live about 45 minutes north of Ann Arbor) make a weekend every year for a game in Bloomington with us. I believe this makes 5 in a row for the Grandson, Daughter in law, 12 year old Granddaughter and the Bride. We try to do it up right, plan well ahead and take our time. We’ve stayed at several locations including renting on Monroe Lake, Nashville, B-Town. It’s kinda Christmas early for my Son and I. If they were a little closer I’d have season tickets like we did years back before all 3 boys grew up and started making their own mark. They always enjoyed eating at 1 of the noted eateries in town. I’m sure as we all do. It was a great weekend.

  20. PR’s success this season, and the recognition and accolades he’s getting (Peyton Manning player of the week) make him highly “marketable” and therefor easier to transfer should he want to be the starter on another FBS team next season. I’m not saying PR will transfer (he’s such a great teammate), but his success this season will make him highly coveted to other coaches that need an accurate, smart, mobile, tough and experienced quarterback. Tuttle needs to throw passes in garbage time.

  21. Okay I must there are some comments made about Jack Tuttlt that I simply do not understand first you do understand that you get 20 hours a week right?second he’s the 3rd string QB how much are you all expecting when there are 2 quarterbacks ahead of him in a new offense to “develop” the two ahead of him aren’t finished products either,gotta find something to whine about I guess.smh

  22. t, I agree- mainly because things are looking up for the Hoosiers. The outlook might be different if IUFB were looking at another 5-7 season.

  23. And although the Bomber’s point about limited time to prepare three QBs is worthwhile, that wouldn’t preclude Tuttle from getting a few pass plays called in garbage time. And isn’t it nice that lately “garbage time” refers to games where IUFB is way ahead?

  24. It’s not how many reps Tuttle gets in practice, it’s about giving him more playing time when the game’s outcome has been determined and letting him throw passes when they put him in during garbage time. A monkey can hand the ball off to a running back; that experience is worthless.

    Did Tuttle get more reps in practice the week before the Nebraska game? Will he be getting more reps in the next two weeks? If Penix is injured or questionable over the next wo weeks, Tuttle is the #2 and should be getting more reps.

  25. Haven’t checked in here for a long while, and couldn’t wait to come see the positivity after win #7. Really a great accomplishment for this team to get to 7 with the whole month of November ahead of them. Bloomington deserves it!!! 7 wins guarantees at the very least a Detroit or Memphis bowl game. An 8th win and they’ll get to play in a warm place.

  26. Welcome back, Steve. Hope you stick around and post comments from time to time.

    As for whether Bloomington or any other part of the Hoosier Nation deserves it, I’m not sure about that. Not enough folks are demonstrating their support by showing up to the home games.

    My guess is that IU will playing in a warm place in late December or January 1st.

  27. What an awesome weekend, HC. Your description reminded me of the days when our extended family would rent a large house/cabin in Brown County for a football weekend. We seemed to always get the best fall weather and an IU FB victory. Everyone would arrive on Thursday, do some hiking or just walk around IU’s beautiful campus on Friday, show to update our IU apparel, then go to the game on Saturday. Now with everyone scattered around the country, it’s much harder for everyone to get back to Bloomington, so these days it’s usually my wife and I and maybe a couple other family members, but still a great time.

    And every time I return to IU I am amazed at how much better the campus has become since I was a student there. I know I’m biased, but it is without a doubt one of the most beautiful college campuses in America. And Bloomington is just a cool town. That’s why I’m baffled as to why more people don’t attend the FB games, especially now that IU Football is a competitive program.

    1. Po, I agree but IUFB has proved tradition is a 2 way street concerning attendance. I was mildly surprised the crowd size was at the size it was with the cool temperature forecast making the locals and farther south folks probable fair weather fans.
      Also I believe it to be very proactive for AD Glass to announce he is detailing a rewarding 3 year contract extension for Coach Allen and something extra for deserving assistants. Always raise the bet when you’re winning.

  28. Whew, I was out this weekend being a bad fan, so I caught the replay. Awesome. I actually managed to be surprised by outcome; no emails, texts came through. Loving the momentum of watching this team get better and better. 7-2. SEVEN AND TWO. I just want to marinate in this for now.

    If you can’t enjoy this, just turn off football forever. Never experienced this under any circumstance since I walked on campus. So many dark years. This is just glorious.

    Let’s go shock the CFB world next week.

Comments are closed.