Three years ago, Indiana traveled to North Texas in Kevin Wilson's first season as head coach. Despite a fourth-quarter rally, the Hoosiers lost that game, 24-21. Yesterday's blowout 49-24 victory in Memorial Stadium showed how far the Hoosiers have come in the past four seasons under coach Wilson. However, the win also showed that there still is room for improvement this year as the Hoosiers enter the meat of their Big Ten schedule. The Hoosiers finish the nonconference part of their schedule with a 3-1 record, and are now 3-2 on the season.
Last week's game against Maryland exposed many of the Hoosiers' offensive woes. Other than Tevin Coleman, not much was working against the Terrapins. Indiana needed an opponent on whom they could work out these offensive issues. They found this relief in North Texas, a team that came into the day ranked 117th (out of 128) in FBS in combined F/+, and 118th in Defensive S&P+ rankings. The offense stepped their game up, including 21 points in both the first and the third quarters, for a grand total of 593 yards on the day, including 363 rushing yards and a 23-for-29 line from Nate Sudfeld. Tevin Coleman, of course, rushed with his standard efficiency, going for 150 yards on 17 carries with a touchdown.
On the other side of the ball, North Texas could not get much going for most of the day against an IU defense that also was wishing to redeem itself after letting two different Maryland quarterbacks torch them last week. The Hoosiers made a stand immediately, intercepting the Mean Green on their third play from scrimmage. And until the final drive of the first half, Indiana held North Texas scoreless and unable to pass the Hoosier 34 yard-line. Unfortunately, the defense let up two garbage-time touchdowns that made the score closer than the game actually was.
The Hoosiers did not want to struggle in this game, and they were effective in getting points on the board. Offensive consistency and special-teams miscues are still concerns, as well as making sure the defense doesn't give up big plays in the final frame. Despite these, the Hoosiers controlled this game and make UNT play at their pace. If they can make B1G teams do the same, then they have a chance to be dangerous in their upcoming games.
The Pivotal Play
Up 7-0 in the first quarter, Wilson showed trust in his special teams and called for the onside kick, which Griffin Oakes executed perfectly. From there, the Hoosiers executed a nine-play, 51-yard drive that ended in a Sudfeld touchdown pass to Jordan Fuchs, and thus the score already was 14-0 midway through the first quarter.
The Game Ball Goes To...
Offense: Shane Wynn. When the Hoosiers lost Cody Latimer, Ted Bolser, and Kofi Hughes after last season, many of us pointed to Shane Wynn as one of the guys who could pick up the pace for these receivers. Wynn has been playing decently most of the season, but he broke out yesterday, with five catches for 127 yards and two long touchdowns where he was wide open.
Defense: Tegray Scales. Scales intercepted North Texas quarterback Dajon Williams on the Mean Green's first drive of the game, and had four tackles. The freshman is quickly becoming a known playmaker on this team.
Important Statistic of the Week
On third downs, UNT was 6-for-15, and IU was 8-for-15. There's not much difference in this; however, the Hoosiers had much more chances from short or middle yard situations than the Mean Green. Of the 15 third-down attempts for North Texas, 10 of them came from five yards or more, where as IU only had six of these situations. The Hoosiers also had six tries on third down with 1-2 yards to go, whereas the Mean Green only had two.
Offense: A. Gaining almost 600 yards of offense with seven touchdowns and no turnovers will get you an A grade, even against the lowly-rated defense of the Mean Green.
Defense: B+. The defense gave up less than 400 total yards, came up with two interceptions, and kept the North Texas offense at bay for most of the game. However, the fourth-quarter defensive breakdowns are not going to fly once Big Ten play resumes next week.
Special Teams: A-. That onside kick was pretty cool, and caught everyone off guard that early in the game. Erich Toth's punting was good all day too, and a couple times he pinned the Mean Green very deep in their own territory. That kickoff return fumble late in the game was unfortunate though, and led immediately to a North Texas touchdown.
Overall: A-. The Hoosiers needed an easy win here, and they got it. However, there are no easy games from here on out - not even Purdue, if their convincing road win over Illinois was for real.
Song For This Game
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At three wins, we're halfway there to a bowl game. More games like this one and we won't need to live on any bowl game prayers. With three wins needed in the next seven games, we gotta hold on, ready or not.
At Iowa. The Hoosiers take on the Hawkeyes in their Homecoming game at Kinnick Stadium. Iowa is a consistent team, but isn't exactly known for getting points up on the board. In fact, in the season prediction preview, everyone on the TCQ staff predicted that Iowa would score exactly 24 points in this game. Guess how many points the Hawkeyes have scored in both of their past two games?
Quick Thoughts, Game Links, and Other Miscellany
- IU wore their traditional helmets with the logo in pink in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. If you recall last year, they defeated Penn State in Bloomington when wearing these helmets.
- On last week's Shutdown Fullcast, the EDSBS guys answered a question of mine: <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p><a href="https://twitter.com/edsbs">@edsbs</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/celebrityhottub">@celebrityhottub</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/JasonKirkSBN">@JasonKirkSBN</a> better final record this year: florida or indiana?</p>— Ben R. (@VT_Ben) <a href="https://twitter.com/VT_Ben/status/517112694785474560">October 1, 2014</a></blockquote><script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>
Guess what: They all answered IU! After this week, IU and Florida both have three wins. We'll be updating this important count for the rest of the season. (Side note: Tough loss for Tennessee against Florida, and I'm sure it was a tough one to cover for former IU athletics beat writer Dustin Dopirak, who's now in Knoxville).
- Box Score
- Kevin Wilson presser (courtesy as always of the H-T)
- Highlight Reel from IU Athletics