LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — Getting to four wins has not been the issue for the Indiana football program. Getting to five victories has been a bit more daunting but hardly mission impossible.
But picking six victories from the schedule?
That’s been the issue — November after November.
On Saturday afternoon against bedraggled Rutgers in Memorial Stadium, Indiana got to four victories for the seventh consecutive season, silencing the Scarlet Knights in a 35-0 victory.
IU moved to 4-2 overall and 1-2 in the Big Ten. It was the Hoosiers' second shutout this season. Honk if you can remember the last time Indiana out-gained a conference opponent 557 yards to 75.
Rutgers which fired its coach less than two weeks ago and might be the worst Power Five team in the nation, finished with one yard passing
Rutgers quarterback Johnny Langan finishes the game 5/13 for 1 yard passing. This is the most completions for fewest yards since 2000. The next lowest total yardage for 5 completions was 46 yards.— RedditCFB (@RedditCFB) October 12, 2019
And that was on five pass completions in 13 attempts.
Now, can the Hoosiers get to six for the first time in coach Tom Allen’s three seasons as the man in charge?
Stay tuned. Not getting to six would be a super-sized letdown.
But make note of this: According to the Sagarin ratings, the highest ranked team Indiana has defeated this season has been Ball State, which is No. 117. Rutgers is ranked No. 139, UConn No. 175 and Eastern Illinois No. 229.
Indiana will start the second half of the season next Saturday at Maryland, which was drubbed by Purdue on Saturday. The Hoosiers will also play at Nebraska and Penn State as well at Purdue on the final weekend of the season. So that's four road games -- and Indiana has lost five of its last six Big Ten road games.
The final two home games? Northwestern and Michigan.
All six of those teams are ranked in Sagarin's Top 65 -- and IU has beaten Michigan once since 1967. Believe it or not, IU has lost five straight to Northwestern.
ESPN’s Football Power Index currently projects that Indiana will be favored against Northwestern and Purdue. It also gives IU a reasonable win probability against Maryland (37.7 percent) and Nebraska (40.6 percent).
Heck, the FPI formula projects 6.4 wins for IU this season.
To get to six, Indiana will have to play the way the Hoosiers played in the first seven minutes against Rutgers, not the way they played over the final 53.
This game was over after 10 seconds.
Indiana kicked off. On the game’s opening play, the Hoosiers DeMarcus Elliott sacked Rutgers quarterback Johnny Langan. IU linebacker Reakwon Jones scooped up the football and rolled 17 yards for the touchdown. It was the fastest defensive touchdown the Hoosiers ever scored at Memorial Stadium.
This is what Indiana did on its first two offensive possessions: Michael Penix Jr. threw a 14-yard touchdown pass to tight end Peyton Hendershot. Then he threw 19-yard scoring pass to receiver Nick Westbrook.
After half the third quarter, IU was on pace to win 168-0.
That was not the final score.
The Hoosiers fiddled through the second quarter, failing to score. They did hang 14 points in the third quarter before Allen started shuffling in the second and third team. Indiana left at least one touchdown, maybe two on the field.
But the final numbers were impressive. Halfback Stevie Scott Jr. ran a dozen times for 164 yards. Receiver Whop Philyor had 10 catches for 182 yards.
Penix was not as sharp as he looked at Michigan State two weeks ago, but he finished 20 of 29 for 282 yards and three touchdowns. He did throw an interception.
And remember: Rutgers passed for one yard and averaged 2.2 yards per rushing attempt.
But there isn't another Rutgers on the schedule.
Indiana has shown it can win the games it is supposed to win. Now the Hoosiers must prove they can do more than that.
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