Written by: Nate Comp (@NathanComp1)
Sure, the Rutgers team is not your typical Big Ten east foe.
The Scarlet Knights came to Bloomington having lost 15 straight Big Ten games and outscored 130-7 against Big Ten opponents this season.
Nonetheless, what Indiana’s defense did to Rutgers today was downright impressive.
It started from the first snap of the game. After kicking off to the Scarlet Knights to start off the homecoming contest, on the first play of the game Indiana brought pressure up the middle and forced a strip sack on Johnny Langan. Raekwan Jones scooped the fumble and returned it 17 yards for a score.
Just 10 seconds had come off the clock, yet Indiana already led 7-0. It was the fastest touchdown in Memorial Stadium’s 60-year history. The Hoosiers never looked back.
“It's not something you expect at the beginning of a game," said Jones after the game. "I gotta go get it. I gotta score this."
“It was 21-0 before you could blink,” added Tom Allen.
When all was said and done, the Hoosiers had added their second shutout of the season and their fourth since 2017. To put this in perspective, the only Big Ten team with as many in this time frame is Wisconsin. Alabama has also tallied four in this time frame. Defending champion Clemson has just one.
What was most impressive, however, is how the defense achieved this shutout. Through Rutgers struggles, one of their strongest attributes was the play of their offensive line. They entered the game having allowed just seven sacks on the season. Fans entered the game expecting Indiana to sit back and let Rutgers’ true freshman quarterback make mistakes. Instead, the Hoosiers went out and forced mistakes.
After the strip sack to start the game, Indiana went on to add five more sacks to their total. They finished with a whopping 14 tackles for loss, led by Cam Jones who had 2 sacks to his credit.
Langan was never able to feel comfortable in the pocket. In his second career start, he finished the day with a measly 5-13 for 1-yard performance. This was the lowest total output for an FBS team this season and the lowest allowed for an Indiana defense since October of 1985 against Minnesota.
No matter the opponent, what Indiana did today was notable. The Hoosiers are now 4-2 on the season and just two wins away from the season’s ultimate goal: bowl eligibility.
“I’m encouraged by where we’re at right now,” said Allen.
Metaphorical homecoming monkey off their backs. Both sides of the ball improving. There’s much to be happy about, but they’re not done yet.
Next up, on the road against Maryland.