Written by: TJ Inman (@TJHoosierHuddle)
For the first time since the 1940s, the Indiana Hoosiers have won the Old Oaken Bucket game three straight times. More importantly, for the first time since 2007, the Indiana Hoosiers are going to a bowl game. IU, playing without running back Jordan Howard, racked up 659 yards of offense, including 309 yards on the ground. Austin Appleby tallied 336 passing yards but it wasn't nearly enough as Indiana never trailed. The victory gave the Hoosiers back-to-back road wins for the first time since 1993.
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.
The Hoosiers improve to 6-6 (2-6) while Purdue finishes the season at just 2-10 (1-7). IU will find out which bowl game they will be heading to soon but for now, the Hoosiers can celebrate a job well done in West Lafayette.
Observations and Celebrations
-I'll begin by saying that I am incredibly happy for the players and coaches. They worked incredibly hard and fought through some very tough losses and a lot of doubt as to whether or not they could win these final two road games and achieve bowl eligibility. They dominated the Boilers and earned their trip to the postseason.
-I was so impressed, again, by the work of the offensive line and running backs. Nate Sudfeld was never under pressure and multiple running backs carried the rock admirably. Andrew Wilson made a few huge plays and ended up with 52 yards and a score. Devine Redding's day will be remembered for the hurdle highlight he had but he was impressive all day as he gained 144 yards. Ricky Brookins had more than 60 yards on 7 carries (have to hold on to the ball though) and Mike Majette chipped in with some nice runs. This was a great day for the running game.
-Brian Knorr had an outstanding game as a playcaller. He kept Purdue's off-balance and nearly everything he dialed up was working.
-The defense gave up some numbers but they stiffened at times and made some very big plays. They were able to get consistent pressure on Austin Appleby and prevented any huge downfield passes. I thought Nick Mangieri, Rashard Fant, Robert McCray and Marcus Oliver really stood out but the unit, as a whole, did a nice job today.
-Mitchell Paige continues to be a very good weapon. He's as sure-handed as they come and it's pleasure to watch him get open with precise routes.
Hoosier fans, IU is going to a bowl game! Keep checking Hoosier Huddle for extensive coverage of this game, IU's postseason destination and opponent and all the bowl preview content you need. This writer is thrilled that the season will continue and I hope you'll stay with us for the ride.