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Indiana 38, Western Kentucky 21: Hoosiers rebound from tough start and dominate Hilltoppers.

After a very dicey first quarter, after which Western Kentucky led 7-0, the Hoosiers began to hold WKU running back Bobby Rainey in check and scored 31 unanswered points during the second and third quarters, and what began painfully turned into a comfortable win.  Here's the box score.  While IU began the game with a strong kickoff return by Tandon Doss to the WKU, Darius Willis fumbled on the second play from scrimmage and the Hilltoppers drove 91 yards for what turned out to be their only pre-garbage time points.  After IU missed a field goal on its next possession, however, visions of the worst loss in school history began to dance in our heads.  Fortunately, after the first quarter, IU found a way to contain Rainey, who entered the game as the country's #4 rusher, and WKU's passing game could not fill the void.  Rainey's numbers are superficially impressive--21 rushes for 110 yards--but 62 of those yards game in the first WKU drive.  He had 24 yards in the fourth quarter after IU had taken a 31-7 lead.  That left him with 11 carries for 24 yards in the time between the Hilltoppers' first drive and garbage time.  Run defense, after looking horrid early, ultimately was fairly good. 

The biggest concern from this game isn't about the defense at all.  It's about the rushing offense, which produced only 100 yards and 3.2 yards per carry.  IU's offense was very efficient.  The Hoosiers converted 10 of 12 first downs, and the passing game was excellent.  Still, to have any success in the Big Ten IU cannot rely on a one-dimensional offense.  As good as IU's receivers are, they won't present the overwhelming mismatch that they were for Western Kentucky. 

Individual performances:

  • Ben Chappell was outstanding, completing over 75 percent of his passes for 366 yards and three touchdowns.  He still hasn't thrown an interception this season. 
  • Damarlo Belcher had 10 catches for 135 yards and a touchdown.  Unsurprisingly, WKU had no answer for a receiver with his size and speed. 
  • Tandon Doss caught 5 balls for 62 yards in his first appearance of the season, and added 8 yards rushing and an excellent kickoff return.
  • Ted Bolser caught his second touchdown of the season. 
  • Darius Willis struggled to run the ball consistently, gaining 30 yards on 13 rushes.  He did, however, have 36 receiving yards on three catches. 
  • Duwyce Wilson caught 4 balls for 53 yards. 
  • Antonio Banks, the only true freshman who is seeing meaningful playing time, carried the ball 4 times for 19 yards.  Nick Turner had 33 yards on 2 carries and Trea Burgess had 19 yards on 6 carries.  Clearly, the staff is looking for the answer in the backfield. 
  • Tyler Replogle had 9 tackles and 1.5 for losses.

In sum, after a rough start, perhaps attributable to the 16-day layoff, the Hoosiers did exactly what should have been expected of them and pushed around a team that now has lost 23 games in a row.  IU certainly has been stronger in the first two weeks than they were last year, when they needed timely turnovers to beat Eastern Kentucky and Western Michigan.  Now, IU must prepare for a horrid Akron team that is led by a first-year coach.  The main downside to the schedule is that if Akron goes as expected, IU will be playing Michigan without having been tested.  Still, the Hoosiers are halfway to the non-negotiable requirement of a 4-0 nonconference record.