Despite statistical dominance by the Indiana Hoosiers (2-0), the outcome of the week two matchup between IU and the Florida International Panthers (1-1) was still very much in doubt before freshman Jameel Cook Jr. made a huge play to seal the Indiana victory. On 4th and Goal from the IU 2-yard line, FIU quarterback Alex McGough rolled out of the pocket and was hit by Marcus Oliver. The ball popped into the air and Jameel Cook Jr. snagged it and ran 96 yards for the score to put the Hoosiers ahead 36-22.
Many questions lingered for the IU defense after a poor performance in their opening game against Southern Illinois. The unit welcomed back multiple players from suspension and, while not perfect, the defense stepped up against the Panthers, forcing three turnovers and holding FIU to 406 yards and only eight second half points. Nick Mangieri had both a forced fumble and a fumble recovery to lead the way for the Hoosiers and Rashard Fant contributed with an impressive four pass breakups.
On offense, the Hoosiers used a balanced attack to move the ball consistently on a stout Florida International defense. Nate Sudfeld threw for 234 yards and ran for two touchdowns while Jordan Howard pounded the ball for 159 yards and 5.9 yards per carry. Sophomore running back Devine Redding chipped in with 53 yards as the Hoosiers outgained the Panthers, 439-406.
Florida International took a first quarter lead on a McGough touchdown pass to Thomas Owens. IU responded with a pair of field goals from Griffen Oakes before Thomas Owens struck again, this time on a 75-yard score. Owens, who finished with an impressive 166 yards on 9 catches, lead the way for all receivers in the contest. Indiana cut the deficit to 13-14 before halftime as Nate Sudfeld scored on a short run keyed by a Simmie Cobbs block. Indiana took a 19-14 lead on another Nate Sudfeld run but missed the extra point. Alex McGough threw his third touchdown pass and FIU was successful on a 2-point conversion to take back the lead, 22-19. However, those would be their last points. The Hoosiers tied the game at 22 on the third field goal of the night from Oakes, converted a Marcus Oliver fumble recovery to a score when Mitchell Paige caught a Nate Sudfeld pass and ran it in from 16 yards out and then finished the game with the aforementioned "pick six" from Jameel Cook Jr. .
The 2-0 Hoosiers will host the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers (2-0) next Saturday at 4:00. Hoosier Huddle will have extensive coverage of Saturday night's 36-22 victory over FIU and great content on the upcoming battle with the Hilltoppers.