LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — It is officially Fill-In-the-Blank-Week for the Indiana University football team. The Hoosiers’ thunderous 24-0 win at Michigan State on Saturday made the question legit:
Indiana’s game at No. 3 Ohio State next Saturday in Columbus, Ohio, will be the sexiest game the Hoosiers (4-0) have played since (fill in the blank)?
The 1987 game Indiana lost to No. 13 Michigan State and Lorenzo White that likely cost the Hoosiers a trip to the Rose Bowl.
The 1967 victory over No. 3 Purdue that did put them against O.J. Simpson and USC in the Rose Bowl?
The 1945 win over No. 18 Purdue that completed a perfect 9-0 season?
Use your imagination. Do your research. You’ve got seven days to figure it out. The FoxSports Pregame Show that features Urban Meyer will be there to preview the matchup of unbeatens.
Indiana's Tom Allen kept himself in consideration for coach of the year, and the Hoosiers put themselves in position to win the Big Ten East Saturday by winning in East Lansing, Michigan, for the first time since 2001. In a season of firsts, mark it down as the first time IU has beaten Michigan, Michigan State and Penn State in the same season.
"It's just one of those great opportunities that coach Allen preaches about," said IU cornerback Tiawan Mullen, who intercepted two passes.
"It doesn't matter what anybody says about us," added IU receiver Ty Fryfogle, who had 11 catches for 200 yards. "We've got to do us."
The floor officially opened for this discussion after IU, ranked No. 10, jumped ahead the Spartans 10-0 in the first quarter and then survived three quarters of uneven play to beat Michigan State for only the third time in 15 tries.
The Hoosiers did it while playing one very good half and one OK half. This was not Indiana’s best football. The Hoosiers failed to score in the second half, struggling to gain 108 yards and seven first downs. But the IU defense was punishing, limiting Michigan State to 191 yards and no possessions inside the IU 38.
"I thought it was ugly," Allen said. "But getting a shutout in this conference is hard to do."
Quarterback Michael Penix Jr. threw an interception on IU’s first possession and threw another in the end zone in the second quarter.
Before Saturday, Indiana had scored all 16 times they had advanced to the red zone. They failed in the red zone four times in seven tries against the Spartans.
"We played a great game defensively but offensively I felt like we left a lot of points on the field," Penix said.
The running game stalled at times, generating 113 yards. But the Hoosiers played without their starters on the left side — tackle Caleb Jones and guard Michael Katic.
IU lost second-team linebacker Thomas Allen, Tom Allen's son, to a leg injury in the first half. He exited on a golf cart and was on crutches after the game. Linebacker Cam Jones also did not finish the game. Allen said that his son's injury was likely serious but he sounded as if Jones could return against Ohio State.
This game will be remembered for the shutout as well as the Ty Fryfogle Game. Fryfogle, a senior, put himself in position to be named Big Ten receiver of the week.
He had nine catches for 178 yards and two touchdowns — in the first half. Not bad for a guy who was rated the No 245 receiver and No. 42 prospect in the state of Mississippi in 2017 as a senior at George County High School in Lucedale.
"He's a big, strong guy," Allen said. "He's a tough kid. He just makes plays, tough, contested catches. To me that's an awesome thing."
"It's not really new to us," Penix said. "He comes out and competes each time the ball is in the air."
Penix was solid but not spectacular. He finished 25 of 38 for 320 yards. His two touchdowns were balanced against the two interceptions.
But the defense delivered its first Big Ten shutout since Rutgers last season as well as the first time the Hoosiers have blanked the Spartans since 1993. IU intercepted three passes and recovered a fumble.
"Getting a shutout in the Big Ten is really hard," Penix said.
Ohio State will be ready for Fryfogle, Penix and the rest of Tom Allen’s team. The Buckeyes have won 24 straight against Indiana. It is the longest active single series winning streak in college football. Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields is the frontrunner for the Heisman Trophy. He has completed nearly 87 percent of his throws with 11 touchdowns and no interceptions.
"That's what a lot of us have come here to do is to play teams like that and try to beat them," Fryfogle said.
The game is booked for noon on Nov. 21 at the Horseshoe — Ohio Stadium. It will air nationally on Fox Sports and locally on WDRB.
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