Hoosiers headed to Outback Bowl to face Ole Miss

Answering questions about Indiana heading to the Outback Bowl on Jan. 2, Tom Allen tried his hardest to keep a positive focus.

He highlighted how it was the Hoosiers’ second consecutive bowl in Florida, which has meaning for a team heavily populated by natives of the state. Allen, himself, started his coaching career in Tampa back in 1992 when he took a job at Temple Heights Christian School.

“It’s pretty cool, the year when all of this is coming together, and everybody’s got all this stuff, and all this adversity, and we make all these historic wins this year, and I was blessed to win (Big Ten) coach of the year,” Allen said, “and all of these kids are like ‘Man, from Temple Heights to the Big Ten. How in the world did all that happen?’”

But as Allen listed all of those achievements from a 6-1 season, keeping a smile on his face, it was with some intention. Because, in the background, there were certainly frustrations to be grappled with.

Despite an historic season, the No. 7 team in the country finished the day ranked No. 11 in the College Football Playoff, behind three-loss teams in No. 7 Florida and No. 10 Iowa State. That landed the Cyclones in the Fiesta Bowl and the Gators in the Cotton Bowl, while the Hoosiers were left waiting for a destination outside of the coveted New Year’s Six slate.

Then the slights seemingly continued, as Northwestern ended up at the Citrus Bowl with Auburn, locking the Hoosiers into the Outback with a 4-5 Ole Miss squad.

But, again, Allen was determined not to focus on the negative. “There will be a time and a place to address that,” Allen said, “and I don’t think this is the time or the place.” He added he received an explanation on the Citrus Bowl, which wasn’t wholly adequate, but he wasn’t elaborating.

Allen did, however, become worked up when he explained why he was so adamant about keeping such a positive stance. It took him to another nostalgic place, recalling questions he faced from reporters when he first became a linebackers coach at Ole Miss. One reminded him that he was the defensive coordinator at Lambuth three years earlier.

“I knew what he meant by that. He meant, ‘You don’t belong here. How in the world did you end up in the SEC?’” Allen said. “He didn’t say it that way, but that’s what he meant. And honestly, I responded, ‘I’m blessed.’ And I’m going to respond the same way today. I’m blessed to be in this position. We’re blessed to be in the Outback Bowl. We’re blessed to have this opportunity, alright?

“But I said this, ‘I’m going to prove I belong. Every. Single. Day. And it’s no different. So right now, it’s that chip on my shoulder, it’s something to prove.”

And that’s what the Hoosiers (6-1) will try to do on Jan. 2 versus Ole Miss at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa. Allen, earlier in the press conference, when he was still trying to hold back his words, made that clear.

“This football team will be ready when we take the field at 12:30 on Jan. 2 in Tampa, Fla.,” Allen said. “Period.”

It is an opportunity to win IU’s first bowl game since 1991. The Rebels are powered by a high-scoring offense that produced 40.7 points per game. But they are also one of the worst defensive squads in the country, allowing 40.3 points per contest. Ole Miss quarterback Matt Corral has thrown for an eye-popping 2,995 yards and 27 touchdowns. But he’s also mistake prone, having thrown 14 interceptions. The sophomore threw five picks in a loss to LSU to end the regular season.

IU, of course, has led the nation in interceptions with 17 this season. The Hoosiers are also playing with a backup quarterback, Jack Tuttle, who has replaced Michael Penix Jr. following a season-ending ACL injury.

Regardless, this will still be one of the more prestigious bowls the Hoosier program has visited in recent memory, as was the case last year when IU played Tennessee in the Gator Bowl. The Outback is even considered a notch above the Gator, but given the Hoosiers’ historic season, it’s a step below the New Year’s Six slate they were in the conversation for.

IU just didn’t end up having an avenue to those games. Iowa State and No. 25 Oregon are facing off in the Fiesta, because the Pac-12 has a tie-in there. Because both No. 2 Clemson and No. 4 Notre Dame are in the playoff, No. 13 North Carolina was placed in the Orange Bowl with No. 5 Texas A&M because of an ACC tie-in. The Rose Bowl, which traditionally has a Big Ten tie-in, was designated as a CFP semifinal contest this year.

“We had a long discussion about who had earned their way into that top 10,” said Gary Barta, the Iowa athletic director and chair of the CFP committee. “Iowa State was in that discussion, Indiana was in that discussion. Comparing those two teams, Indiana, it was an historic year, they were 6-1, their only loss was to Ohio State. They didn’t have the quality wins that Iowa State had.

“Iowa State had beaten Oklahoma and had beaten Texas. When it came down to comparing those two in particular, Iowa State was given the nod.”

That didn’t go over well with the Hoosiers, and their immediate responses poured onto Twitter.

“Just help me (understand),” IU corner Tiawan Mullen wrote, “because I (may be) lost right now.”

“We just keep getting disrespected, it’s ridiculous,” defensive tackle Demarcus Elliott posted. “(Since) when is having 3 losses better (than having) 1?”

Another defensive tackle, Jovan Swann, added ““This is comical … I love the lack of respect. Regardless, we will stay in our lane and on our grind.”

The latter part of Swann’s message was the one Allen was trying to get across Sunday night.

“This team has done everything I’ve asked them to do,” Allen said. “A chance to play in a bowl game with these guys, I’m not going to let anything distract from that.”

IU still has a chance to add something historic to this season, because the program has lost five bowl games in a row. Allen was at the head of two of them, including the 2016 Foster Farms Bowl, shortly after Allen was named the interim head coach.

The Hoosiers’ defeat in the Gator Bowl may have been even more gut-wrenching, because they led 22-9 with under five minutes to play. An 82-yard touchdown drive, followed by an onsides kick recovery and another score, drove a Volunteer comeback.

IU was able to put that loss aside and maintain momentum out of an eight-win season. Six conference wins in 2020 matched a program record, beating Penn State, Michigan, and Wisconsin in the same season for the first time in IU history. All of that was accomplished despite a stop-and-start offseason due to COVID-19.

“This is the next opportunity for this program to prove who we are, to stare adversity right in the face and just fight, fight, fight for each other,” Allen said. “And that’s what we’re gonna do.”

A matchup with Ole Miss should be nostalgic for members of IU’s staff. Allen, defensive coordinator Kane Wommack, receivers coach Grant Heard, and safeties coach Jason Jones all have roots there. Allen was a linebackers coach and special teams coordinator from 2012-13, while Wommack, who recently just accepted the head-coaching job at South Alabama, was a grad assistant under his father, former d-coordinator Dave Wommack.

Heard both played and coached at Ole Miss, and Jones also worked with Allen in Oxford from 2013-14.

“To me, that’s where this program has a chance to show who we are, on a national stage, for everybody to watch one more time, how good this Indiana football team is,” Allen said. “And we have a chance to do that, together, with guys we care about and love, and it’s a great, great bowl game to be in, and that’s what I want to focus on.”

65 comments

  1. In this bowl game IU has a lot to lose because it’s a game that IU should win to keep football program momentum going. So IU should win this game but IU must be prepared or Ole Miss will beat IU. Ole Miss has played some teams fairly tough and a IU loss…that would be a downer for IU football for what has been a good season given all the challenges and circumstances. Yes, Northwestern played a Covid OSU team in the big ten championship title game. So IU should have been rated as the second best team in the big ten conference this year.

    1. Sure looks like 4-5 to me!

      A 6-1 team ranked in top 10 in all poles except BCS, whose only loss is by 7 points to undefeated #3 team, is playing an unranked 4 and 5 SEC team? Give me a break. IU got screwed royally! At least if they had gone to the Citrus instead of NW, the players could have enjoyed Disney World.

      Not much to gain playing a 4-5 team. Fail to blow them out or lose, and all the good vibes of a 6-1 season go out the door!

      1. Why do you think the Citrus preferred NU over us? Curious about that one, too, but I’m not one to play the victim card, since it makes us look weak and whiny. Let’s be happy for a good year and a good bowl.

  2. For the bowl committee to put IU in this position is disgusting. A 4-5 bottom feeder. Besides the ‘homeyness’ of the matchup, it makes no practical sense.
    The next time Scott Dolson has a civil conversation with Gary Barta,…it’ll be one too many. One other thing,…IU’s treatment is an afront not only to the Hoosiers but the entire conference. The message is this, ‘the second best team in your weak conference only deserves a matchup with an SEC bottom feeder’. AD’s from around the league should let Gary Barta hear it!

    1. I did. You don’t respect my submissions,..that’s fine. I don’t care for yours either. Unless you can offer a constructive point of fact to mine, or anyone elses,..do us all a favor and cool it. Apparently you feel IU got a fair shake. Your other job must be director of elections in Philly or Detroit.

      1. I just haven’t seen you offer proof of the corruption you claim was rampant in all of this. You’re equating a result you don’t like with obvious “cheating”, but you’re doing it with no proof. It sounds like a certain “Stop the Steal” movement that is getting laughed out of courts all over the land.

  3. Brad I wish you could tell them and have them heed your lambasting as they deserve it. Meanwhile IU can get in extra practices that will help especially the younger and inexperienced players. It also gets their name reinforced in Florida.

    1. Sorry Bear Down, I usually enjoy your posts, but how is playing a 4-5 Ole Miss team that should not even be in a bowl game make this a good bowl game? I thought playing a 6-4 Auburn team in the Citrus bowl was bad enough, but at least it was on News Day and the players could enjoy Disney World.. Absolutely no one other than IU and Ole Miss fans will even watch this game on the 2nd. So much for getting good TV exposure!

      1. It’s 2020. It’s Covid. Down is up, and up is sideways. Four months ago, the season had been cancelled, with the ominous declaration that the decision by BiG 10 Presidents would not be revisited. Done.

        Then, we get a reprieve, albeit a late October start with stringent virus protocols. And, somehow, some way, we get an abbreviated season. Along the way, games get cancelled, schedules get turned upside down, positive tests abound, we lose the Bucket game . . . twice!

        Through it all, we win and battle and battle and win, taking OSU to the end and beating up some teams that have wiped their collective feet on us for years. Decades, actually.

        And now a diverse CFP committee, chaired by a guy who would be incentivized to lean in our favor, gets ripped to shreds by a few simpletons here as corrupt and unknowing, all because they chose a couple of other schools in front of us in the most chaotic, uneven season any of us will ever witness. Oh, and there’s no evidence they were biased or corrupt in any way. Just some ungrateful types stomping their feet in mindless rage, all because they didn’t get a perfect toy for Christmas.

        At a site where a few have dared to call me negative because I don’t always take a biased, get-with-the-program view of our team, some people are acting like spoiled children. And I don’t indulge that kind of behavior.

        Tampa is fertile recruiting ground, we’ll get a good test against an athletic Ole Miss team, everyone can align against Lane Kiffin. There’s plenty of opportunity to further the program, but people need to grow up a little and be thankful for what we have.

        1. Dude, grow up. Spoiled children? Grow up? Indiana had a once in a century season and it isn’t just Indiana fans that are puzzled by the decisions to leave them out. Fans are venting and there’s nothing wrong with it. It is pretty lame.

          You can hold your opinion. Whatever. Calling people spoiled children for being bummed out about it is super weak. Take a break from the comments for while.

          Fred Glass didn’t pull any punches today either: https://247sports.com/college/indiana/Article/Former-Indiana-athletic-director-Fred-Glass-blasts-the-college-football-playoff-committee-power-structure-157496822/

          Guess he’s just being a spoiled child, too.

        2. You don’t indulge people acting like spoiled children and want them to grow up a little? So glad to learn that tidbit of information BD. A rather condescending attitude you are conveying there, don’t you think?

          1. Do you think spoiled children should be catered to, or should they instead learn to be appreciative of what they have? Lashing out at phantom conspiracists doesn’t strike me as the response that makes sense. Take a higher road, like Tom Allen has chosen to do.

        3. Did somebody once say when posts/comments/rebuttals go too long they do sort of lose their credibility?

          Football games also last too long…I’d watch if we could play in a Brevity Bowl.

          At the Brevity Bowl, all football ceases at the end of two hours of TV time. You want more football? Then you’re going to have to figure out how to shorten up the rest of the junk.
          Is this a football game or Referees on Broadway kicking their legs up higher than the Rockettes?
          And at the Brevity Bowl, the only thing ‘under review’ would be the cheap toupee displayed as a deceased black squirrel now resting on the noggin of prematurely balding ex-NFL know-it-all (other than knowing how a squirrel rug can’t pass for hair) working the postgame booth.
          The dead squirrel would be flagged, sent to the locker room and given a future 3 broadcast games suspension for targeting a camera lens right in the eye of millions of viewers.

          1. I criticized your lack of brevity because your posts contained so little substance. Assumed you understood that. Was I mistaken about your lack of understanding?

          2. It’s not that I didn’t consider it, I did and don’t believe it’s valid. My refusal to agree with you is the issue, and why you’re upset with me. I just don’t think you made a convincing case.

          3. In other words, you didn’t understand it. That’s all too common for you. You’ve never seemed to know what you didn’t know.

    2. V13: I did. Four emails to Barta over 3 weeks. Essentially I told him that by listing IU out of the top 10 was becoming quite obvious considering the AP had them at #7. That they had time to ‘right the ship’. They chose not to.

  4. We are in Tampa now. Anyone know if they are going to let fans at the game? Might go if they are. I know the FL governor has a pretty don’t give a damn attitude with Covid. Not sure if it is his call.

  5. Outback Bowl…? They were close. Here’s some ‘Top 10′ better ideas for where to place the Hoosiers:

    10. Leftout Bowl
    9. After New Year’s Afterthought Bowl
    8. Rodney Dangerfield “No Respect” Bowl
    7. My Grandpa’s Bedpan Bowl
    6. Wrong Side of the Tracks Bowl
    5. Down by the River in the Double-wide Bowl (courtesy: Jeremy Price)
    4. Kangaroo Butt Steak Bowl (even more leathery than Outback prime).
    3. Bloomin’ Bunion Bowl (Trump will not be in halftime uniform)
    2. You Chopped My Nuts Bowl
    1. Siesta Bowl

  6. All these teams whether 1 loss are 2 or 3 losses are pretty equal as to who is the best or not. I would include Ole Miss in that bowl of soup also. Though IU wasn’t rewarded for its season Ole Miss is a worthy opponent and if IU wins the game it will be a rewarding season more so than getting beat by a New Year’s Day bowl team unless IU were to win New Year’s Day bowl game. IU just needs to beat Ole Miss and move on. Ole Miss won’t be an easy game. IU could win or lose this game even though IU should win.

  7. IU should have played in one of the top 6 bowl games. The old Phil Dickens screw job pulled on IU by changing big ten title game championship rule and then it carries over into major bowl games. Jack Tuttle will be a excellent qb in bowl game including one of the 6 major bowl games. These do not include playoff games except ND. IU could compete and have a decent chance to beat ND.

  8. Glass’s comments provide a very plausible explanation, and shine light on the motivation for why Barta screwed IU. And given that Glass knows a lot more about the politics and biases of Big Ten ADs than any person posting comments on this site, his explanation is a lot more credible than someone whose only retorts are to repeat “there is no proof” and then calling people names.

    1. I haven’t called you any names, Po, but I did ask you for proof, which you haven’t been able to provide. I think most people can easily see Glass’s comments for what they are.

      1. You most certainly attached derogatory names to posters in general on this blog. I’m absolutely with Po in the fact Glass knows all the biases in the conference, intimately. No doubt had his nose rubbed in them directly and indirectly.

          1. This like everything else you spout, it’s your opinion. Just as mine is. H4H will have fun with this as he’ll dig out your name calling posts and repost them here. Then we’ll all have a belly laugh at your expense. Enjoy.

          2. Wish I could help. Currently watching Burt Reynolds in ‘The Longest Yard.’

            Anyway, I’m merely a serial liar posting zero substance of repeated incessant blather. Other than that, I’m a standout guy and valued citizen of the Scoop community.
            Now replace ‘Lol’ with this.

  9. I mean who is IU athletic director?
    Glass or Dolson
    Big ten athletic director Warren is doing a minimum wage job while making an elitist salary. (Like many who make elitist salaries while doing minimum wage job).

  10. BD, you keep demanding “proof.” That’s the wrong demand. In a court of law, the prosecutor doesn’t provide “proof” to the jury, he/she provides the evidence. It’s up to the jury to decide whether the evidence presented proves the defendant’s guilt. You and the rest of us have been provided with a lot of “evidence” that Barta’s committee screwed IU FB, but you refuse to acknowledge it. You wouldn’t be satisfied if the FBI released a recording of a wiretapped conversation in which Barta states, “hey, we have to screw IU FB out of playing in one of these New Years Day bowls.”

    I think it’s fair too say that in the court of public opinion, Barta has been found guilty of screwing IU FB, especially after ISU lost to OK this weekend and now is a 3-loss team, who also lost to a non-Power-five team (Louisiana) earlier this year. And obviously, two other very knowledgeable juries, the college FB coaches and the college FB sports reporters, who voted to rank IU #7, agree! But I guess, according to you, those groups are not being “objective” either.

    1. Very familiar with that process, so I’ll clarify: You’ve failed to provide any evidence that the committee and Barta “screwed” us. Would love to see it but, so far, you’re just saying you’re upset with their decision making. If you have evidence, however, please produce it.

  11. From Fred Glass, who is an experienced lawyer and a man trained to be objective. “Our program, our coach and our kids got done in by the good-old-boy Big Ten football power structure. There are influential people who don’t want Indiana to be good in football. They’re used to coming into our state and poaching our best high school players and counting us a ‘W’ on their schedules. That’s why they don’t advocate for us. Is there any real doubt we’re the second-best team in the conference? Look at the polls, even the CFP. Look at the common opponents.”

    Hey BD, you should challenge Glass to “prove” that what he said is true.

    1. I’m surprised that you can’t see that statement for what it is. First and foremost, Glass is a politician. If you recognize that, you should be able to draw a more accurate conclusion regarding his remarks.

  12. Yes, IU was screwed out of the NY6, but I actually think the Outback Bowl is better than the Fiesta and the Citrus, and I welcome it. Honestly, if it was USC, that would make the Fiesta more worthy. But Oregon, not so much. Who cares about the Ducks?
    Also, I prefer to see the Hoosiers against an SEC program than a PAC 12 school. Let’s end the losing streak in bowl games by taking care of bizz in a big way against a team from the “best” football conference.
    With a VICTORY, IU has a chance to finish perhaps as high as No. 6, 5 or even 4 in the final polls! That’s memorable stuff.

    Also, this is a bizzness trip, I don’t think this group should or would care about going to Disneyworld! Let’s go get it. #leo

  13. BD, you think you are objective but you are not. The polls are and IU is #7 which is more objective. You want proof but don’t see the objective groups.

    If you want to talk bolts with me about football start off with a subject in football and I will answer. I am sick of you thinking you are objective putting the rest of us by putting us down but you aren’t going by looking at the truth.

    1. V, you think the polls are objective? The one run by the media or the one comprised pf coaches voting, even though those coaches acknowledge they turn that duty over to other people to do for them?

      As far as nuts and bolts, I didn’t mean to upset you. You never talk Ns and Bs here and, when you do, it’s not always on point (we should play a fullback, we need to go with 2 tight ends – neither of which we do, practice or even scheme to). Maybe that’s not a good sample, so I’m sorry if those were situations you already understood.

  14. As a coach I ran with fullbacks and I back but switched to shotgun and WR with 2 slots winning the 4A state championship. I wish IU would use the system I did with 1 foot splits and use the slots to run to make defense to beat the defense. I ran with a play that used the guard and slots in counter plays with the slot going the other way with the ball the other way. When I ran the counter with FB instead of two slots I had the Fb go the other way from the counter. We played a team that had a very good DT that beat the center and FB so at half I told the team when we called stay the guard [we did not ever do this before then] would pull and the FB and slot would lead on the counter play. It up winning us the regional because my kids were smart about football as I taught they about football. My players in the school with poor whites and blacks from inner city but I taught them about football. In many ways and angles to take and how to read patterns on pass plays, etc.

    1. All good stuff that I’m sure worked well at the high school level, but we don’t run any of that. Two (soon to be three) Big 10 teams run much fullback, and only one allots carries to him. We don’t even pretend to carry any on the roster. We also don’t pull anybody. We don’t really trap, either. Just not a part of what we want to do. We split at a foot but that’s not uncommon, even in the spread sets we run, and it’s not close to what guys like Leach do. Good stuff.

  15. BD, how many of those 61 coaches acknowledge that they “turn the duty (of voting) over to other people to do (it) for them”? Where’s the proof that your statement is true?

    Sorry to disagree hoosier32, but IU FB has been put in a no-win situation by playing Ole Miss in the Outback Bowl. If we beat them, we beat an unranked team with a losing record. If we lose to them, we were over-rated. I see no way that IU can get a higher ranking after the game.

    Aside from IU winning the bowl game, my only wish is that Iowa State gets crushed.

    1. Do a little digging, Po. It’s common, and for a good reason. Most admitted sometime ago that they are so busy coaching that they rarely get to watch other teams play, thus they delegate their ballot completion to a GA or manager.

        1. I knew managers who routinely did this, and they saw only marginally more games than the coaches did. Sports media people never took coaches polls seriously and spoke derisively of it, especially when coaches criticized them for not being knowledgable about the game.

    2. even if IU doesnt move up in the polls, a win over Ole Miss ends the 5-game bowl losing skid.

      that’s 7-1 and nothing to sneeze at moving forward!!

  16. Still say the injury to Penix is why we were snubbed. Don’t understand why so many aren’t considering his loss influencing how those in committee rooms think we could handle big play teams without our big playmaker.
    Penix gave us a much more dangerous offense and provided far bigger “sex appeal” and “it factor. ” He’s also from the South and fulfills the bias’ of superior “Southern” talent (revisit thinkaboutit’s Scoop comments in early season).
    Penix outplayed the Heisman candidate from the automatic ticket punched team in Columbus …How many yards did Penix amass with his arm? 500? Likely 600 without a couple drops right in breadbaskets?

    It’s the loss of Penix that likely kept us out of a Jan. 1 bowl. It’s about sex appeal and the qb glamour position which fuels more ratings. Fabio on Clemson…Lookalike Mahomes on OSU, etc, etc.

    https://ohiostate.rivals.com/news/ohio-state-allows-historic-passing-game-to-indiana

    1. H4H, I don’t doubt you are right about the Penix injury but it was wrong for the committee to ignore what the team did especially the defense. I think Tuttle will show in the bowl game what he can really do when coach Sheridan opens up the offense.

      1. BD, It is clear the committee had some to do with this with their ranking of IU #11 and they didn’t help IU with playing OSU losing by 7 points but did with Florida when they lost to Alabama – this is evidence of favoring the SEC over B1G.

        1. The SEC is better than the Big 10, and has been for years. And the committee had zero to do with the Citrus’ selection of Northwestern over us. That’s not how it works, V.

  17. What the committee did by slighting IU FB was to diminish its reputation as a FB program on the rise. That makes TA’s job of enhancing his program’s reputation more difficult, which affects recruiting and may diminish support from casual Hoosier fans. And less support means reducing the amount of money that comes into IU’s Athletic Department. Donations to a university’s Athletic Department are like the stock market, they’re affected by investors’ emotions.

    But as someone said, “more logs on the fire.” I have no doubt TA will use this “slight” to motivate his team for the bowl game, through spring camp and through all of next year. Now I just want to see IU take the gloves off and start running up scores at every opportunity.

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