Written by Sammy Jacobs (@sammyj108)
Opponent: Illinois Fighting Illini
Location: Saturday November 9th /3:30pm/ Memorial Stadium/ (Bloomington, Indiana)
Why They Played: The Hoosiers and the Illini meet for the 71st time in their history in a Leaders Division match-up.
What The Game Meant:
Indiana was trying to erase the memory of a tough loss last week against Minnesota and keep their slim bowl hopes alive. Illinois was trying to end a 18-game Big Ten losing streak.
Top Offensive Performers:
Tevin Coleman, RB, Indiana- The running back came out on a mission. His first carry on the first play from scrimmage went for a 64-yard score. On the day Coleman ran for 215 yards and two scores on just 15 carries. He became the first running back since 2003 to have back-to-back 100-yard games. The only down side to his game was that he left with an ankle injury late in the fourth quarter.
Cody Latimer, WR, Indiana- The big receiver had a career day for the Hoosiers, hauling in 11 passes for 189 yards and three touchdowns. Every catch he made seemed to be huge, whether it was for a score or toughing out the extra yard for a first down.
Stephen Houston, RB, Indiana- The senior had his second very good game in a row. Houston filled in for the injured Coleman nicely and ran for 150 yards and two scores of his own. Very quietly Houston is putting together a string of solid games.
Steve Hull, WR, Illinois- The wide out had his way with Indiana’s defense as he broke open several times and racked up 224 yards and two scores. Hull averaged 24.9 yards per reception.
Top Defensive Performers
Darius Latham, DT, Indiana- The freshman only recorded one tackle, however that was a sack. Latham also batted down two passes and put all kinds of pressure on Illini quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase.
Jonathan Brown, LB, Illinois- The senior backer played like a man possessed for most of the game recording seven tackles, two TFL’s, and added an interception for good measure.
Special Team Performance:
The Hoosiers special teams performance was outstanding. Mitch Ewald was automatic despite not really being tested as he hit his only field goal and all seven extra points. Erich Toth averaged a measly 30.5 yards per punt, but both punts came on a short field into the wind. Kevin Wilson is finally using his best returners on kickoffs and Shane Wynn rewarded him averaging 23.7 yards per return. The kick off coverage team drew several holding calls that set up the Illini with awful field position.
The Hoosiers matched the school record for total yards set all the way back in 1994 against Kentucky. Indiana had their way on offense versus the Illini, running for 371 yards and gaining 279 yards through the air.
Illinois had just tied the score at 35 on a fumble that was recovered by offensive lineman Corey Lewis. One the first play of the next drive Tevin Coleman extinguished whatever hope the Illini had with a 75-yard touchdown run, his second of the day.
I Knew it Was Over When…
Stephen Houston plunged into the end zone to give the Hoosiers a two score lead with 11 minutes left in the game.
Players of the Game
Indiana– Tevin Coleman, Running Back- Coleman continued his great season with a career best 215 yards rushing. He set the tone early and restored order late in the game. Coleman is up for the Paul Hornung Award for most versatile player in major college football. Fans can vote here for the award.
Illinois- Nathan Scheelhaase, Quarterback- The Illini signal caller accounted for 495 total yards and three scores. He mixed the run and the pass great until the last 10 minutes of the game.
What I took away from the game
Indiana needed this win, not only for their bowl hopes, but also for the morale of the program. This win gives Indiana four victories and equals last year’s total and gives the Hoosier coaches something tangible to show to players and fans. Yes, Illinois is a bad football team, much improved from a year ago and they still have a lot of talent but they are still a bad team. The Hoosiers did what they needed to do. The offense scored 50 for the second time this season, but it looked as if they should have scored more. The defense had moments where they looked OK. They forced Illinois stops and several times came up big on a fourth and short and on a fake punt. However, Indiana let a little know receiver go off for a career day and let the Illini to stay in the game for much too long. Not all of that falls on the defense however, which by the way was starting two true freshman at linebacker. The offense had several drives stall out after the defense set them up with great field position. D’Angelo Roberts had a bad fumble and Nate Sudfeld threw an in excusable interception. On that note, this win was a good one for the program, the offense is putting up numbers Hoosier fans have not seen in decades. They should enjoy the win, because the road just gets harder with games against Wisconsin and Ohio State coming up.