Written By Sammy Jacobs (@Hoosier_Huddle)
The Indiana Hoosiers entered the 2016 Bucket Game needing the win to get to bowl eligibility. It wasn’t pretty and if the Hoosiers were playing anyone (maybe not Rutgers) but Purdue, they wouldn’t have gotten that sixth win. The Hoosiers turned the ball over four times and averaged a paltry 3.5 yards per play. Those are awful numbers for an offense. However, the Hoosiers’ defense was up to the challenge taking the ball away from Purdue three times and holding the Boilers to just 42 yards on the ground. While it was far from pretty the Hoosiers did claim their fourth Bucket Game victory in a row and clinched their second bowl berth in as many years in what would become Kevin Wilson's final game in Bloomington.
Opponent: Purdue Boilermakers
Location: Saturday November 26th, Memorial Stadium, Bloomington, Indiana
Why They Played: The Hoosiers and Boilermakers meet annually in the battle for the Old Oaken Bucket.
What The Game Meant:
Playing for the Old Oaken Bucket is always huge for the Hoosiers, but a bowl berth was also on the line for IU. For the Boilermakers it is a chance to start a new era with momentum.
Top Offensive Performers
Devine Redding, RB, Indiana- Nothing came easy on Saturday for the Hoosier offense, but Redding ran hard and gutted out 99 yards on the ground, including a touchdown. He eclipsed the 1,000-yard rushing mark for the second year in a row as well.
DeAngelo Yancey, WR, Purdue- Yancey made several big plays for the Boilermakers and finished the day with six catches for 78 yards and a touchdown. He also picked off a pass on a Hail Mary at the end of the first half.
Top Defensive Performers
Marcus Oliver, LB, Indiana- Oliver had another great game for IU as he led the team in tackles with 10 including four for a loss that resulted in negative-17 yards. He also forced a fumble in the second half.
Tegray Scales, LB, Indiana- The second part of IU’s dynamic duo of a linebacking corps also had a big day accounting eight tackles and four more tackles for loss including a huge sack to force Purdue into a fourth-and-13.
Jonathan Crawford, Safety, Indiana- Crawford saved the day for the Hoosiers as he came up with two interceptions and a fumble recovery to help the defense hold on for the 26-24 win. He also added four tackles.
Jake Replogle, DT, Purdue- The Replogle name usually screams IU, but Jake ended his career at Purdue with a tremendous performance with seven tackles and three tackles for a loss.
Gelen Robinson, DE, Purdue- Robinson was stout along the Purdue line as well posting eight tackles to go along with two TFL’s.
Markus Bailey, LB, Purdue- Bailey made IU fans uneasy as he picked off two Lagow passes, nearly taking one to the house. He also had eight tackles.
Special Team Performance
There is still a lot to be concerned about with the Hoosier special teams units. Griffin Oakes missed an extra point and had a kickoff go out of bounds. Punter Joseph Gedeon had an up-and-down day as he punted three times for a net average of 41.3 yards, while the kick coverage team gave up several solid returns to Purdue.
The good news is that IU blocked an extra point and recovered a fumble on the final play of the game to seal it. Other than that, IU was below average and has a lot to improve upon during bowl practices.
Neither offense did much on the ground, but Purdue was stuffed all day as the IU defense held them to just 1.2 yards per carry on 34 attempts.
With IU clinging to a 26-22 lead, Purdue was faced with a fourth-and-14 from the IU 27 yard line Boilermaker quarterback David Blough threw a pass intended for Yancey that was picked off in the end zone by Safety Jonathan Crawford.
I Knew it Was Over When…
Jonathan Crawford caught Purdue’s lateral on the final kickoff to end the game.
Players of the Game
Jonathan Crawford, Indiana- The Largo, Florida native accounted for three takeaways and was the difference in the game for the Hoosiers.
Markus Bailey, Purdue- Two interceptions and eight tackles nearly sprung the upset for the Boilermakers.
What I Took Away From the Game
The Hoosiers came into the Bucket Game as 21-point favorites and were lucky to escape with a two-point win on Saturday to clinch a bowl berth. The Hoosiers played an uninspired first half, maybe their worst first half of the season, which featured three interceptions and countless missed opportunities. In the second half the defense flexed their muscles and got two takeaways from Jonathan Crawford to seal the win.
The good news for the Hoosiers is that they are now bowl eligible, which was the only mission coming into Saturday as both head coach Kevin Wilson and his players repeated the mantra of ‘One More Month’. The bad news is that IU looked really bad on offense for most of the game. Quarterback Richard Lagow reverted back to the quarterback we saw against Northwestern, forcing throws and feeling the heat from Purdue’s defense. He finished the day 11-of-19 passing for 117 yards and a score while being sacked three times. Wildcat quarterback Zander Diamont, who likely has played his final game in Bloomington, sparked the offense on the ground with 42 yards, 71 excluding the 29-yard loss on the safety, and a touchdown, but was 0-for-3 passing with a brutal interception. It was an uphill battle all day for the Hoosier offense as they eked out just 3.4 yards per play.
On the bright side, the Indiana defense stepped up when the Hoosiers needed them most. After being put in horrible position all of the first half, they buckled down and kept the Hoosiers in the game. For the game, Purdue had their average drive start at their 42-yard line. Just think about that and how IU held them to 22 points offensively. The defense accounted for four sacks, 11 tackles for loss, and two takeaways. It is scary to think how this game would have turned out if this were last year’s defense.
Yes, this was an ugly performance by Indiana. Yes, they probably had no business winning this game against any other team. However, the Hoosiers were playing an awful Purdue team who still could not beat IU even with every single break in the books. Indiana fans should be happy that this squad as one more month of football. That’s 15 practices to help develop the younger players and for Richard Lagow to fix whatever ails him. It’s also another “I” in that chain on the Old Oaken Bucket and I don’t really think Hoosier fans care how ugly the win is, if that is the result.