2015 Indiana Hoosier Football Season Rewind

Written By Sammy Jacobs (@Hoosier_Huddle)

It has been three-plus weeks since the Hoosiers walked off the field at Ross-Ade Stadium with a third straight bronze "I" to link to the chain on the Old Oaken Bucket and a bowl bid to fulfill. Now we know the Hoosiers next game will be on Dec. 26th at the New Yankee Stadium (Yes, it is still New Yankee Stadium) in the Pinstripe Bowl against the Duke Blue Devils from the Atlantic Coast Conference. So, let's refresh how the Hoosiers actually ended up playing in a bowl in what looks to be a balmy 60-degree New York City.

To me there were two turning points of the season. The first came against Rutgers when the Hoosiers collapsed in the final 17 minutes to blow a 25-point lead. This could have been that game that everyone pointed to if the Hoosiers had not reached six wins. It was the game that would have sealed the "same old story" narrative that had been Indiana football for the better part of two-and-a-half decades. The second turning point came when the Hoosiers hit the road to face Maryland in College Park. The Hoosiers quickly fell behind 21-3 and had lost the services of their starting running back Jordan Howard. Again, Hoosier teams of the past would have probably packed it in and had limped out of Byrd Stadium with a 56-10 loss. But alas these are not the Hoosiers of the late 1990's and 2000's. This is Kevin Wilson's team and the one thing that you can count on from this team is that they will not throw in the towel. The Hoosiers went on a 44-7 run and demolished the Terrapins 47-28 for their fifth victory and a very large sigh of relief. This win gave the players and coaches a tangible reward for their effort and it showed the next week when Indiana went up to Purdue and controlled the ball game up in West Lafayette.

We are not done yet. Let's take a look back at all 12 regular season games in 2015 for the Hoosiers and we'll give you a small recap, who led the Hoosiers on offense and defense while trying to get you, the fans, amped up for the 26th. 

Game 1: Indiana 48 Southern Illinois 47, Bloomington, IN

The season got off to a crazy start as the Hoosiers rallied from 32-21 halftime deficit to hold off the Salukis who scored a touchdown with 18 seconds left to pull within one. The Hoosiers needed a stop on the two-point conversion to pull out a win, in what would have been an extremely disappointing and season-altering loss.

  • Hoosiers Top Performers
    • Rushing: Jordan Howard, 20 Carriers, 145 Yards, 3 TDs
    • Passing: Nate Sudfeld, 55.8 Comp%. 349 Yards, 1 TD
    • Receiving: Ricky Jones, 6 Rec. 186 Yards, 1 TD
    • Defense: Marcus Oliver, 10 Tackles, 2 Forced Fumbles

Game 2: Indiana 36 Florida International 22, Bloomington, IN

In a game the Hoosiers needed to have to ease the nerves of fans after a narrow victory in week one, the Hoosiers once again fell behind early and took a 14-13 deficit into the locker room at halftime against an FIU squad that had "upset" UCF on opening weekend (UCF finished 0-12 by the way). The Hoosiers were led on offense but two rushing touchdowns from quarterback Nate Sudfeld and effectively put the game away with a 96-yard pick-six from freshman safety Jameel Cook. Hoosier fans can call this their $1 million win, since that is what is cost to bring FIU up to Bloomington.

  • Hoosier Top Performers 
    • Rushing: Jordan Howard, 27 Carries, 159 Yards
    • Passing: Nate Sudfeld, 57.5 Comp%. 234 Yards, 1 TD, 1 INT
    • Receiving: Michael Cooper, 3 Rec. 66 yards.
    • Defense: Jameel Cook, 3 Tackles, 1 Int, 1 TD

Game 3: Indiana 38 Western Kentucky 35 Bloomington, IN

This was the game almost everyone had circled on their calendars as the best non-conference game on the Hoosiers' schedule. Western Kentucky featured a high-powered passing game that nearly pulled off the road win.

Once again the Hoosiers fell behind, this time after scoring first on a Mitchell Paige 91-yard punt return. IU looked dead in the water when as they trailed by 11 points at the break after letting up two scores in the final 3:30 of the second quarter, but another scoreless third quarter from the defense allowed the Hoosiers to catch up and take a 10-point lead into the fourth. Another freshman safety Jonathan Crawford picked off two passes and the offense ground out the clock for a thrilling 38-35 win. On paper this was the best win of the regular season for the Hoosiers. Western Kentucky finished 11-2, with their only two losses coming at Indiana and at LSU.

  • Top Hoosier Performers
    • Rushing: Jordan Howard, 31 Carries, 204 Yards
    • Passing: Nate Sudfeld, 74.1 Comp%. 355 Yards, 3 TDs
    • Receiving: Ricky Jones, 5 Rec. 126 Yards 1 TD
    • Defense: Jonathan Crawford, 4 Tackles 2 INTs

Game 4: Indiana 31 Wake Forest 24 Winston-Salem, N.C.

At 3-0 the Hoosiers were generating some buzz finally, this was the week that the #IUFB4Gameday movement started, as they hit the road for the first time in 2015. Indiana had not started a season 4-0 since 1990 and would be facing the top-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes the following week.

On a damp, albeit warm day at BB&T Field, the Hoosiers came out on fire taking control of the game early in the second quarter, as they were led by the bruising running of Jordan Howard and a few timely touchdown passes from Nate Sudfeld. The Hoosiers should have breezed to victory after taking a 31-10 lead with 10:26 left in the game when Tony Fields ran back an interception for a score, but the Hoosiers became conservative with the ball and had to sweat out a Hail Mary with 93 seconds left. Despite the win the Hoosiers would learn that Sudfeld had injured an ankle that would have him miss much of the game against Ohio State and the entire contest at Penn State. 

  • Top Hoosier Performers
    • Rushing: Jordan Howard, 33 Carries 168 Yards 1 TD
    • Passing: Nate Sudfeld, 55.8 Comp.% 205 Yards 2 TDs
    • Receiving: Simmie Cobbs, 7 Catches 75 Yards 1 TD
    • Defense: Tegray Scales: 9 Tackles, 2 Sacks, 2 TFLs

Game 5: Ohio State 34 Indiana 27 Bloomington, IN

The atmosphere and hype surrounding this game were palpable around Bloomington as the Hoosiers recorded their first sell-out since 2010. Even if Gameday was not on location, Dakich Gameday was there, the parking lots were full and everyone was in on IU football. The game was great as well as the Hoosiers jumped out to a 10-0 lead before it turned into a see-saw battle. The Hoosiers' hopes took a hit as Joey Bosa knocked both starting quarterback Nate Sudfeld and running back Jordan Howard out on the same play. Sudfeld, who had not looked 100 percent from the get go re-aggravated the ankle injury from the previous week, while Howard was rolled up on and just had no explosiveness. Indiana had to rely on getting some magic from back-up quarterback Zander Diamont, and they almost go it. The Hoosiers had a goal-to-go situation for a shot at the tie or the win and despite a poor snap, the Hoosiers had a shot to the end zone. The pass was knocked out of the hands of Ricky Jones and thus started the run of games where the Hoosiers were oh-so close to knocking off one of the big boys.

  • Top Hoosier Performer
    • Rushing: Zander Diamont, 7 Carries, 98 Yards, 1 TD
    • Passing: Nate Sudfeld, 47.6 Comp.% 134 Yards
    • Receiving: Simmie Cobbs 4 Catches 68 Yards
    • Defense: Chase Dutra 11 Tackles, 1 TFL

Game 6: Penn State 29 Indiana 7 State College, PA

This was the one game that the Hoosiers can throw away and never look at again. There was hope going into it that both Jordan Howard and Nate Sudfeld would be able to give it a shot, but it turned out that neither of them were healthy enough to play, let alone start. IU shot themselves in the foot a few times as penalties negated big plays by both the offense and defense. The Hoosiers could only muster seven points, on a Diamont TD run. Diamont would later be knocked out of the game with a shoulder injury and replaced by Danny Cameron.

  • Top Hoosier Performers
    • Rushing: Zander Diamont, 11 Carries 38 Yards 1 TD
    • Passing: Zander Diamont, 52.9 Comp.% 90 Yards
    • Receiving: Ricky Jones, 5 Catches 59 Yards
    • Defense: Zack Shaw, 6 Tackles, 3 TFLs, 2 Sacks

Game 7: Rutgers 55 Indiana 52 Bloomington, IN

Ah, homecoming. A time when fans should be excited to go to the football game and cheer their team onto a victory over a lowly opponent. Well, the day started off great for IU as they got Chamber of Commerce weather, and were playing Rutgers. The Hoosiers raced out to a 17-7 lead early in the second quarter only to see the Scarlet Knights take a 27-24 lead into halftime. If that was not a sign of things to come, I don't know what else was.

The Hoosiers would go on to dominate the third quarter outscoring the Knights 28-6 in route to a 52-33 lead after three quarters. Everything should have been fine, but then a botched snap on a punt was taken in for a score and Nate Sudfeld had thrown two interceptions and before fans knew it, it was 52-52 and Rutgers was lining up for the game-winning field goal.

As I mentioned in the introduction, this game could have doomed the Hoosiers' season. Trust me, it almost did. As fans jumped ship and belly-ached about this being the "same old story". But at that point in time, who could blame them.

  • Top Hoosier Performers
    • Rushing: Devine Redding, 15 Carries 99 Yards 2 TDs
    • Passing: Nate Sudfeld, 76.2 Comp,% 464 Yards 4 TDs
    • Receiving: Mitchell Paige: 8 Rec. 126 Yards
    • Defense: Marcus Oliver, 14 Tackles, 1.5 TFLs, 1 INT

Game 8: Michigan State 52 Indiana 26 East Lansing, MI

Don't let the score fool you, the Hoosiers were in this one up until the last five minutes when they ran out of gas. On a day that featured a brief downpour, the Hoosiers were able to put up 26 points, it could've been more if not for a missed field goal and two missed extra points, through three quarters. Indiana fell apart in the fourth quarter again as they were outscored 24-0 over the final 12-plus minutes.

The Hoosiers looked absolutely floored as they used up all of their energy heading into the bye week. It was a much needed rest for most of the players and a chance for the coaches to regroup this squard.

  • Top Hoosier Performers
    • Rushing: Jordan Howard, 11 Carries 78 Yards 1 TD
    • Passing: Nate Sudfeld 62.2 Comp.% 308 Yards 3 TDs
    • Receiving: Simmie Cobbs, 5 Rec. 108 Yards 1 TD 
    • Defense: T.J. Simmons, 15 Tackles, 4 TFLS, 2.5 Sacks

Game 9: Iowa 35 Indiana 27 Bloomington, IN

Coming off the bye week and facing an Iowa team that the experts were not sold on had Hoosier fans optimistic that this was the game where Indiana would finally get over the hump and defeat a ranked team at home for the first time since 2008.

On the second play from scrimmage the Hawkeyes busted through the Hoosier defense for a long touchdown run and the Hoosiers could have just rolled over especially when Iowa took a 14-3 lead. The Hoosiers battled back to take a 17-14 lead before the Hawkeyes scored on a C.J. Beathard leaping touchdown with 17 seconds left in the half.

After a scoreless third quarter the Hoosiers did get within one on an Oakes field goal, but Iowa would rattle off 14 straight to basically put the game out of reach. IU would get the game to within a score, but an onside kick attempt was failed and that was it. Another close, but no cigar game for the Hoosiers.

  • Top Hoosier Performers
    • Rushing: Jordan Howard, 22 Carries 172 Yards 2 TDs
    • Passing: Nate Sudfeld, 43.2 Comp.% 180 Yards 1 TD
    • Receiving: Mitchell Paige, 2 Rec. 59 Yards
    • Defense: Chase Dutra, 10 Tackles, 1.5 TFLs

Game 10: Michigan 48 Indiana 41 2OT Bloomington, IN

In what was a classic game featuring more momentum changes than a pinball machine, the Hoosiers once again fell short against a highly-ranked opponent. This was a game of missed opportunities for Indiana. They left too many points on the field in the first half as they settled for three field goals. They also allowed Michigan to march down the field for the tying score with no time left on the clock when all they needed was one stop to pull off the biggest win of the last 25 years.

Overtime was not kind to Indiana either as Michigan quickly scored on both possessions and the Kevin WIlson's squad saw another late-game goal-to-go play slip through the hands of a player in crimson. 

  • Top Hoosier Performers
    • Rushing: Jordan Howard, 35 Carries 238 Yards 2 TDs
    • Passing: Nate Sudfeld, 58.8 Comp.% 220 Yards 1 TD
    • Receiving: Simmie Cobbs, 4 Rec. 86 Yards
    • Defense: Tegrey Scales, 8 Tackles, 1 TFL

Game 11: Indiana 47 Maryland 28 College Park, MD

Things could’ve gotten ugly for the Hoosiers in College Park as they fell behind 21-3 early. To be honest they probably get the doors blown off under the previous regime, but this team has fight. The Hoosiers battled back and stayed focused going on an insane 44-7 run in route to the third largest comeback in school history.

The win came at a cost though as running back Jordan Howard was held out most of the game with a knee injury. Devine Redding filled Howard’s shoes well as he ran for 130 yards on 24 carries.

While the start for the Hoosiers was awful and Twitter was in full meltdown mode, the 44-7 run was exactly how Kevin Wilson wants his team to play. The defense settled in and made stops and gave the offense great field position to do damage with. Indiana probably should have scored 60 and the offense will say the same thing, but they closed out the win and that’s what counts.

Speaking with Mitchell Paige on Thursday, he recalled that he did not even realize that the Hoosiers were down 21-3 in this game. 

  • Top Hoosier Performers
    • Rushing: Devine Redding, 24 Carries 130 Yards 5.4 YPC
    • Passing: Nate Sudfeld, 65.7 Comp.% 385 Yards 4 TDs
    • Receiving: Simmie Cobbs, 9 Rec. 192 Yards 
    • Defense: Rashard Fant, 2 Tackles, 4 Pass Break-ups

Game 12: Indiana 54 Purdue 36 West Lafayette, IN

For the first time since 2007 the Indiana Hoosiers will be heading to the post-season. Which bowl IU will be placed will not be announced until after the championship games next weekend however. This was a monumental win for head coach Kevin Wilson and this team. Three straight buckets, a bowl berth, and a happy Hoosier Nation.

Nate Sudfeld began the scoring as he connected with Mitchell Paige for a 23-yard touchdown. A bad punt from Purdue's Joe Schopper gave Indiana good field position and they cashed in with a 45-yard field goal from Griffin Oakes. Purdue answered as Austin Appleby scored from one-yard out to close the deficit to three points. Indiana, as they would do all afternoon, answered right away as Devine Redding scampered in for a six-yard touchdown to put IU back ahead by ten, 17-7.

Purdue pinned IU at the one-yard line but the Hoosiers marched 99 yards and Nate Sudfeld threw a perfect pass to Simmie Cobbs to put IU ahead 24-7. Purdue responded with an Austin Appleby pass to tight end Jordan Jurasevich but again, IU had an answer. This time, it came at the beginning of the second half as Nate Sudfeld dove in for a three-yard rushing touchdown to re-establish Indiana's 17-point lead at 31-14.

Appleby battled back with another passing touchdown to make it 31-21 but Andrew Wilson found pay-dirt as leaped in to put IU ahead 38-21. The two sides traded scores, Markell Jones scoring for the Boilers and Nate Sudfeld connecting with Brandon Knight for the Hoosiers but IU's Griffin Oakes missed the extra point and the lead was only 16, 44-28. Purdue cut the lead to eight with another Austin Appleby rushing touchdown but Nate Sudfeld hooked up with Andre Booker on a gorgeous 72-yard bomb (Sudfeld passes Antwaan Randle-El and became IU's all-time passing yardage leader on the throw) that sealed the deal for IU. A Griffin Oakes 34-yard field goal was the final scoring of the day as Indiana cruised to the 54-36 win at Ross-Ade Stadium. 

Kevin Wilson spoke to what bowl eligibility means to this program after the win saying, “I know how hard these guys have worked. I want these kids to taste some of the rewards for their time and energy. I am just proud of those guys as seniors, those fourth and fifth year guys.”

There are a lot of happy faces in the locker room, none more so than Mark Deal, who is the keeper of the Bucket.

  • Top Hoosier Performers
    • Rushing: Devine Redding, 22 Carries 144 Yards 1 TD 1 Awesome Hurdle
    • Passing: Nate Sudfeld, 62.1 Comp.% 350 Yards 3 TDs
    • Receiving: Mitchell Paige, 5 Rec. 92 Yards 1 TD
    • Defense: Nick Mangieri, 6 Tackles, 3 TFLs, 2 Sacks


Now we hope that you're all caught up for on the Hoosiers 2015 season. It was a heck of a ride that kept everyone on the edge of their seat and one hand reaching for the cooler. We will have our in-depth bowl coverage starting on Monday Dec. 21st.