CRAWFORD | At the horn: Indiana revamps its running game, sprints past Maryland 42-36
Indiana found its running game, and found its way back into the win column by beating Maryland 42-36 to end a three-game losing streak and keep its bowl hopes alive.
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (WDRB) — This wasn’t your father’s typical Big Ten Conference pound-it-out rushing matchup.
First off, Indiana vs. Maryland? Your father would tell you to stop smoking the funny stuff if you tried to tell him Maryland was a Big Ten team, but that’s beside the point.
These two made the running game exciting. It was shades of Branch McCracken and Lefty Driesell. Three-yards-and-a-cloud of dust? How about 10 yards and a FieldTurf skid mark?
Maryland, we expected. The Terrapins came into the game rushing for a shade under 250 yards per game, 16th in the nation. But Indiana? The Hoosiers hadn’t broken 100 yards on the ground since Oct .1, and were averaging just 2.7 yards per carry over the past three games.
On Saturday, the Indiana rushing game woke up. The Hoosiers ran for 414 yards and had three 100-yard rushers. Maryland carried for 269. But with their path to bowl eligibility on the line the Hoosiers got a boost from their opportunistic defense in the fourth quarter to prevail 42-36.
The victory improves Indiana to 4-4 on the season and keeps that path to a second straight bowl game intact, with a visit to Rutgers next week and season-finale at home against Purdue sandwiching games against No. 24 Penn State and No. 2 Michigan
1). GOT THE JOB DONE: Running back Devine Redding notched his seventh career game of rushing for more than 100 yards and fourth this year. He carried 17 times for 130 yards and a touchdown. Tyler Natee added 111 yards and a touchdown on his 18 carries. And Zander Diamont, with the help of a 52-yard TD run on IU's final play from scrimmage, finished with 104 yards on 11 carries and two touchdowns. And anytime you run for 300 or more, your offensive line is doing something right, so give helmet stickers to all those guys.
Defensively, the Hoosiers struggled to contain Maryland early, but it did get one first-half takeaway to keep IU close, and had a couple of huge plays in the second half to change momentum. The biggest coming on a forced fumble by Marcus Oliver early in the fourth quarter to set the Hoosiers up inside the Maryland 10. IU scored two plays later to get some breathing room.
2). DIDN’T GET IT DONE: Better execution in kicking situations would’ve saved the Hoosiers a bit of drama. They missed the game’s first extra point on a bad snap, then started chasing points, coming up short on a two-point conversion in the first half, then going for two, a bit inexplicably, when up 35-24 in the fourth quarter, and failing. IU also had Griffin Oakes’ 38-yard field goal try bounce off the left upright with 9:35 left in the game.
3). TURNING POINT: Maryland had a chance to regain momentum down 29-94 after that Oakes field goal miss in the fourth quarter. Instead, on their third play of the ensuing drive, quarterback Perry Hills was dropped for a loss by Oliver and Marcellino Ball recovered to set Indiana up at the Maryland nine.
Two Natee runs later and the Hoosiers led by 11.
4). SURPRISE, SURPRISE: The spark showed by the Hoosiers’ running game bodes well for a team that has improved dramatically on defense in the past month.
5). PLAYERS OF THE GAME: Redding and Natee were outstanding for Indiana, as were Oliver (8 tackles, 2 sacks and 2 forced fumbles) and Tegray Scales (12 tackles, 10 solo).
6). STAT OF THE DAY! Oliver’s 11 career forced fumbles now are a school record, as are the Hoosiers’ 11 forced fumbles this season.
7). WHAT WE LEARNED: The Indiana is at its best when it builds around the running game, which got solid offensive line play today to eat up large chunks of yardage (x.x yards per run) and clock.
8). WHAT’S NEXT? Indiana visits Rutgers, which has had a week off to prepare, but which also has been outscored 208-46 in its five Big Ten losses, the bulk of its points coming in a 34-32 loss at Minnesota on Oct. 22.
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