Indiana continued its incredible 2020 season with a 14-6 win over Wisconsin in Madison on Saturday afternoon.
The Hoosiers moved to 6-1 on a season that now includes wins over Penn State, Michigan, Michigan State and now the No. 18/19 Badgers.
Quarterback Jack Tuttle made his first career start for IU. The redshirt sophomore completed 13-of-22 passes for 130 yards and 2 touchdowns.
But it was a game that it didn’t look like Tuttle would finish at one point.
And it was the Hoosier defense that once again led the way.
Indiana’s defense generated two more takeaways and kept Wisconsin out of the end zone despite allowing 342 yards.
It was the IU defense that got things started.
Cornerback Tiawan Mullen sacked Wisconsin quarterback Graham Mertz late in the first quarter, causing a fumble that was recovered by linebacker James Miller at the Indiana 47.
Head coach Tom Allen was thrilled with the defensive effort that would end up with two takeaways and 3 sacks.
“It is a testament to these players and (defensive coordinator) Coach Wommack and his leadership on defense,” Allen said after the game. “He’s done a phenomenal job. He’s just extended our culture with the sacks and tackles for a loss. The takeaways have always been a huge priority, but it has been taken to another level this year.”
Indiana now has 20 takeaways on the season.
The Hoosier offense responded to the first Badger turnover with a 12-play, 53 yard drive that ended with a Tuttle 1-yard TD pass to tight end Peyton Hendershot.
Wisconsin kicked a field goal to cap off the first half scoring as the Hoosiers took a 7-3 edge into the halftime of a game that had an old school Big Ten feel.
Indiana extended their lead to 14-3 when Tuttle finished a 7 play, 75 yard drive with a 7-yard TD pass to Whop Philyor with 11:03 left in the third quarter. Tuttle threw the ball while backpedaling, as he dropped a perfectly lobbed pass to the corner for Philyor to run under.
After safety Jamar Johnson’s 4th interception of the season, Indiana appeared on its way for another score. But Tuttle was stripped of the football on a quarterback sneak at the Wisconsin 38 yard line with 7:10 left in the third quarter.
A Badger field goal closed out the third quarter scoring, and Indiana looked like they had put Wisconsin away on the second play of the 4th quarter.
Receiver Miles Marshall was all alone deep in Badger territory but dropped a Tuttle pass that would have resulted in an easy IU touchdown.
Things got even more precarious for IU as Tuttle was briefly knocked out of the game later in the fourth quarter after taking a shoulder to his helmet.
Tuttle went first to the sideline tent and then to the locker room before emerging just in time to lead IU on an 8-play, 27 yard drive that consumed an important 4 minutes off the clock and leaving only enough time for one more Wisconsin drive.
“I’m so proud of Jack,” Allen said. “He got an opportunity and he made the most of it. He played extremely well. Very proud of him. He had another 60 yard touchdown pass the we dropped, but he just made a lot of good throws. He’s tough as nails. He took some shots. He’s just going to keep getting better and better.”
Punter Haydon Whitehead pinned the Badgers inside their own 10 yard line, and with with 4:48 remaining, Wisconsin needed to go 92 yards for the game tying score.
But as they did throughout the game, IU’s defense bent but didn’t break.
The Badgers marched 71 yards on 14 plays, but cornerback Reese Taylor broke up a Mertz 4th down pass in the end zone with :46 seconds remaining to give IU their first win over Wisconsin since 2002.
“We’re a good football team,” Allen said. “People can deny us or count us out or whatever they want to do, but they can’t deny that we just keep on winning.”
NOTES AND NUMBERS:
Stevie Scott and the offensive line were able to do enough with the running game to keep Wisconsin honest. Scott had 18 carries for 57 yards. David Ellis added 5 carries for 22 yards.
Philyor led the way for the IU receivers with 4 catches for 47 yards.
Micah McFadden led the defense with 9 tackles and 2 sacks.
Mullen now has 3.5 sacks, 3 forced fumbles, 3 interceptions and 2 fumble recoveries for his career.
UP NEXT: The Hoosiers will finish out the regular season against Purdue in Bloomington next Saturday. The time and television details for the game have not been released.
At this point no one should doubt that Indiana will be ready for the Old Oaken Bucket game.
“We’re going to enjoy this win, but we’re going to have the best week of practice we’ve ever had,” Allen said of the preparation for the Boilermakers.
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