Written By Sammy Jacobs (@Hoosiers_Huddle)
Opponent: Rutgers Scarlet Knights
Location: Saturday October 17th /3:37pm/ Memorial Stadium/ (Bloomington, IN)
Why They Played: The Hoosiers and Scarlet Knights will now play every year as part of the Big Ten East Division
What The Game Meant:
This was the most important game of the Kevin Wilson Era. This was a very winnable game for the Hoosiers before heading into a daunting three game stretch. Indiana needed this game to keep fans interested. After their performance yesterday, IU has lost the eyes and dollars of much of Hoosier Nation.
Top Offensive Performers:
Nate Sudfeld, QB, Indiana- In his first game back after an ankle injury the senior quarterback had a career day throwing for 464 yards and four touchdowns. He also added a score on the ground. The Indiana offense was much better with Sudfeld back behind center.
Mike Majette, RB, Indiana- The freshman running back was a breath of fresh air in the running game for the Hoosiers. He accounted for 113 total yards and showed a burst of speed that IU has been missing since Tevin Coleman and D’Angelo Roberts departed.
Leonte Carroo, WR, Rutgers- The one guy IU could not let beat them torched the Hoosiers for seven catches, 157 yards and three touchdowns before being knocked out of the game late in the third quarter.
Robert Martin, RB, Rutgers- Mr. Martin was a Hoosier killer as well on Saturday evening as he carved up the IU defense on the ground with 124 yards and three more touchdowns.
Top Defensive Performers:
Marcus Oliver, LB, Indiana- Oliver once again led the IU defense in tackles with 14. He also had a tackle for loss and an interception.
Steve Longa, LB, Rutgers- Longa was all over the field for the Scarlet Knights recording a game-high 16 tackles, 1.5 TFL’s, and a forced fumble.
Special Team Performance:
Indiana had done a terrific job on special teams all afternoon until an errant snap sailed over punter Erich Toth’s head. IU blocked two extra points, took explosive return man Janarion Grant out of the kicking game, and looked like they showed some life in the return game as Damon Graham averaged 25 yards per attempt.
Rutgers outscored Indiana 22-0 in the fourth quarter in route to a stunning comeback and a 55-52 victory.
With Indiana up 52-33, a “comfortable” 19-point lead, IU was forced to punt and that’s where the wheels fell off the bus. The snap soared over the leaping try (punters are taught to not jump for a high snap) of Erich Toth and was picked up by Kemoko Turay and run into the end zone for a touchdown which made the score 52-39.
I Knew it Was Over When…
I could say that I knew this game was over when the last second field goal sailed through the uprights, but that just wasn’t true. This game was over when Rutgers quarterback Chris Laviano hit Carlton Agudosi for 16 yards on a third and four to get Rutgers down to the IU 14-yard line. The Scarlet Knights were in field goal range and all they had to do was line it up and kick it.
Players of the Game
Nate Sudfeld Indiana- The senior was great for most of three quarters on Saturday accounting for five total touchdowns and throwing for 464 yards. His two late interceptions were critical mistakes and it did cost the Hoosiers the game, but he played well for about 45 minutes.
Leonte Carroo and Robert Martin, Rutgers- This two-headed monster accounted for six touchdowns and 281 yards. Indiana had to make Rutgers one-dimension, but clearly that did not happen. Everytime IU jumped out to a double-digit lead these two players brought Rutgers back.
What I took away from the game
Hoosier fans are in full-on panic mode, if not they just skipped this stage and have moved on to basketball season. And one cannot blame them after the Hoosiers’ #EpicFail Saturday night.
This was an absolute must win for IU heading into a three game stretch featuring top-25 foes in Michigan State, Iowa, and Michigan. The Hoosiers will probably be 4-6 heading into the final two contests of the season.
The fact is that Indiana did some great things on offense with Sudfeld back at quarterback. Three receivers went over 100 yards (Paige 126, Jones 117, Cobbs 109), Mike Majette has emerged as a viable option in the back field, and IU finally found tight end Jordan Fuchs in the red zone for two short touchdown passes. All of this was lost in the fact that the Hoosiers blew a 25-point lead in just over 17 minutes.
There is plenty of blame to go around in a game where an opponent goes on a 28-0 run in the final 17-plus minutes, but this one falls squarely on the shoulders of the guy at the head of the line Kevin Wilson. You can talk about missed tackles, botched snaps, poor throws, and being too cocky until you are blue in the face, but at the end of the day the buck stops with Wilson. This was not just “smiles on the sideline” cost them this game. There is something fundamentally rotten with the program and it manifested in what would be the worst lost since Bill Lynch’s squad got obliterated 83-20 in Madison in 2010.
The administration had to be concerned by more than just the collapse in the last 17 minutes, but also the turn out on an absolutely perfect fall day on homecoming. The listed attendance was 40,567, the actual attendance was probably around 30,000, for a team that was 4-2 and was heading into an extremely winnable game. If that is not going to draw fans I don’t know what will. It is certainly not the Mario Kart races they have, or the t-shirts that they inexplicably shoot into the alumni sections instead of the student section, or the fireworks they shoot off during the William Tell Overture between the third and fourth quarters. Indiana football has a problem and it goes much deeper than the product on the field. When I have die-hard fans text me that they are “done” after driving more than two and a half hours for every home game and many more hours to several road games the entire enterprise needs to be looked at. Saturday was not a setback for the Hoosiers. It was a wake-up call. A wake-up call that something needs to change.