The IU football team has had some frustrating games this year. Against Michigan and Michigan State the defense was good but the offense was stagnant. Against Maryland the offense was good but the defense fell apart. Against Ohio State and Wisconsin the Hoosiers competed for nearly 3 full quarters before falling apart. Penn State was pretty ugly, but even that game, once Indiana survived the initial onslaught they hung in pretty well. The final scores don’t always reflect it, but Indiana competed in all six of its losses this year. The one common denominator was the inability to “put it all together”. Of course another common denominator is that those are 6 really good teams, with the exception of Maryland. The Hoosiers let that one get away — but that’s life on the road in the B1G.
Enter Rutgers. As we stated in our preview, Rutgers was a team playing above expectations and generally keeping games close. So it was difficult to imagine 41-0, both from an IU and a Rutgers perspective. Statistically, it is abundantly clear that Indiana put together a complete and dominant game:
Indiana – 503
Rutgers – 190
Indiana – 23
Rutgers – 11
Third Down Conversions
Indiana – 1
Rutgers – 6
For just about any statistic you can come up with, Indiana was dominant. Quarterback Richard Lagow had his second straight solid performance, going 17-28, for 236 yards and two touchdowns. Indiana ran for 267 yards and averaged 5.6 yards a carry. The offensive line was dominant both in the running and passing games, as Lagow was not sacked and rarely faced pressure. The defense got its second shutout of the year, something it hadn’t accomplished since 1993. This might not be an elite defense, but it is very good. Even the special teams was clean, and it recovered a fumble to set up the Hoosiers’ first score.
But when you are 5-6, there is little time to celebrate your accomplishments. It is win or go home time, and your arch rival stands in your way. An arch rival that you have to play on the road. An arch rival that is angry about losing 4 in a row in the series. An arch rival that just pulled off a pretty impressive upset at Iowa today (yes, the same Iowa that blew out Ohio State two weeks ago).
When we previewed the final two games of the regular season last week, we suggested that Purdue was likely to struggle after the loss of QB David Blough. Well, perhaps that wasn’t fair to Elijah Sindelar. All he did today was go 22-37 for 229 yards and 3 TDs, giving Purdue its first B1G road win of the season. Purdue’s defense was also solid against the Hawkeyes, recording 6 sacks and limiting Iowa to 7 points until the last minute of the game. So this Bucket Game is going to a big challenge for Indiana. We’ll have more coverage of the game as the week progresses. Can Indiana win it? Of course they can. They compete with everyone.