Written By Sammy Jacobs (@Hoosier_Huddle)
Opponent: Purdue Boilermakers
Location: Saturday November 28th /12:01pm/ Ross-Ade Stadium/ (West Lafayette, IN)
Why They Played: The Hoosiers and Boilermakers meet annually in a protected crossover rivalry. They have played for the Old Oaken Bucket since 1925
What The Game Meant:
For the first time since 2007 the Hoosiers came into the Bucket Game needing a win to head to a bowl game.
Top Offensive Performers:
Nate Sudfeld, QB, Indiana- The California Kid had no issues with the damp, cold conditions at Ross-Ade Stadium. In his first Bucket Game start, Sudfeld threw for 350 yards and four touchdowns. He also moved atop of the IU career passing yard list on a 72-yard touchdown to Andre Booker.
Running Backs, Indiana- The Hoosiers were without star back Jordan Howard, but that did not stop the running backs by committee. Discounting the 24 yards gained by other players, the four Hoosier backs gained 285 yards on 48 carries and two touchdowns. The group was led by Devine Redding who posted a career-high 144 yards, highlighted by a fantastic hurdle of a Purdue defender. Former walk-on Andrew Wilson gutted his way to 52 yards on 15 carries, including a leaping touchdown. Ricky Brookins was back in the mix with seven carries for 64 yards, and Mike Majette pitched in with four carries for 31 yards.
Austin Appleby, QB, Purdue- Give Appleby credit. He took an absolute beating today (sacked six times), but he kept getting up. He finished 36-of-57 for 332 yards and two touchdowns.
Top Defensive Performers:
Nick Mangieri, DE, Indiana- The senior busted out of his mini-slump in his final regular season game. He notched six total tackles, two sacks, and three tackles for a loss.
Marcus Oliver, LB, Indiana- A regular on the Hoosier Huddle Top Defensive Performance list, Oliver had another big game. He led the Hoosiers in tackles with 11, including a TFL and an interception, which he returned for 41 yards.
Jake Reploge, DT, Purdue- A familiar name to Hoosier fans had a big game against his brothers’ alma mater. Jake finished with a team-high 11 tackles and 2.5 tackles for loss.
Special Team Performance:
On a day that was not ideal to kick in the Hoosiers did an excellent job in the punt and kicking game, yes Oakes missed a field goal and an extra point (he’s human). Erich Toth did an awesome job of limiting punt returns and averaged a NET of 47.7 yards on three punts.
Griffin Oakes was great on kickoffs. He kicked six of his 10 back for touchbacks and saved a touchdown with a tackle. He was two of three on field goals, the miss was because of a poor snap and was six of seven on extra points.
The Hoosiers also recovered a huge onside kick after a Purdue touchdown and even prevented a fake punt with a time out.
Indiana put up 7.8 yards per play on the Purdue defense. They finished with 659 yards of offense on 85 total plays. That includes three kneel downs as time expired.
Purdue had gotten the game back to one score at 44-36 and IU fans began to stir. Three plays later Nate Sudfeld found a streaking Andre Booker down the sideline for a 72-yard touchdown that put the Hoosiers up 15 points and effectively sealed the game.
I Knew it Was Over When…
When Nate Sudfeld found Booker on a deep touchdown. That play took a lot of air out of the sails for Purdue, who went on to turn the ball over three time in the final seven-plus minutes.
Players of the Game
Nate Sudfeld, Indiana- As much as he didn’t want to admit it, Sudfeld cemented his legacy with a huge game against Purdue to put IU over the hill and into a bowl game. However, Sudfeld may need to work on his downfield blocking.
Austin Appleby, Purdue-Appleby did all he could to keep the Boilermakers in the game accounting for four total touchdowns.
What I took away from the game
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.
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, however the Hoosiers have some major decisions coming up that need to be made. The biggest of which is will Kevin Wilson get an extension. Indiana athletic director was non-committal in an interview after the game, saying he wants to bask in the glow of winning three-straight buckets. Well Fred, don’t bask too long because this guy deserves an extension and needs it to go out and recruit.
Indiana still has to figure out its secondary issues and get people healthy, but today is a day for Hoosier Nation to celebrate. The offense, which put up 659 yards, is clicking and Nate Sudfeld, five total touchdowns, is looking as good as he ever has.
The Hoosiers can now rest up, get some of the younger guys some practice, and hit the road recruiting with momentum and a bowl bid in their pocket.