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Indiana 31, Missouri 27: When a Good Defense Shows Up, Our Offense Can Do the Rest

After the despair of last week, Indiana stunned 18th-ranked Missouri on the road yesterday, winning 31-27. Let's break it down to see how it happened.

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Still can't believe this actually happened. Oh wait I totally can.
Still can't believe this actually happened. Oh wait I totally can.
Ed Zurga

Many of us thought that Indiana would be 2-1 after its first three games this season. We just didn’t think it would happen in this order.

D’Angelo Roberts punched in the game-winning touchdown with 22 seconds to go, giving the Hoosiers a 31-27 lead after a hard-fought contest all day at Faurot Field. The Tigers had one last chance to capitalize, and even got an untimed down after a 15-yard pass interference penalty for roughing the passer. But when Mizzou’s last attempt at a desperation lateral fell flat, the Hoosiers emerged with an upset on the road against a ranked SEC team. In fact, this was the first road victory for the Hoosiers since Illinois in 2012, and the first victory over any ranked opponent for IU since Coach Hep and company defeated Iowa back in 2006.

Before getting to this moment, however, this was a back-and-forth game that produced multiple lead changes. After both teams showed their ability to move the ball downfield early, it was all tied at 17 going into the third quarter. At this point, the Hoosier defense, which had let up two long touchdown plays in the first half, tightened up. Mizzou QB Maty Mauk, who finished 28-47 with 326 yards, two TDs, and a pick, threw his only interception of the day seven seconds into the third. However, the Hoosiers couldn’t capitalize on the good field position, and the game turned into a surprising defensive stalemate for most of the quarter. With 1:17 to go in the third, however, the Hoosiers struck quickly, scoring a touchdown after a long Tevin Coleman run led to a J-Shun Harris touchdown reception from Nate Sudfeld. The Hoosiers led 24-17 at the end of the third quarter.

After another Mizzou touchdown to start the fourth quarter, neither team could get anything going, and the Hoosiers punted from midfield with about seven minutes left. This was really when the nerves really started to kick in for me. Naturally, the Tigers methodically drove the ball downfield for the next five minutes, but Brian Knorr’s IU defense came up big here, forcing Andrew Baggett to kick his second field goal of the game to put the Tigers up 27-24.

Now, if I were confident in one thing about this Hoosiers team before yesterday, it would have been their ability to score quickly. And the final two-minute offense gave them the perfect opportunity to demonstrate this skill. But it almost didn’t happen. On fourth down and deep in IU territory, Sudfeld looked to have thrown an incomplete pass. Game over, Mizzou wins. But hold up - a penalty flag gave the Hoosiers another chance at glory, and the rest, as they say, was history.

KickSewly wrote earlier today about what this victory means for IU as a football program. As Big Ten play starts next week, we can feel a lot more confident about this team going forward into this season, and hopefully years to come. It’s too early to say if this win will be like the Northwestern victory over Notre Dame that propelled the Wildcats to the Rose Bowl (and legitimacy as a program) in 1995, but hey, at least we’re thinking about it.

The Pivotal Play

Coleman caught a short pass with less than two minutes to go, and all of the sudden he was off to the races. He scampered downfield 44 yards to about the Mizzou 15, and after a facemask penalty, the Hoosiers were set up to get the game-winner from Roberts.

The Game Ball Goes To...

Two game balls this week! On offense, it’s Coleman. He missed over a quarter of action due to an apparent knee injury, but still had 132 yards and a score on 19 carries. He now has a touchdown in each of his last 12 games, which according to IU, ties the all-time school record set by Anthony Thompson in the late 1980s.

On the defensive side of the ball, I’ll give it to Tegray Scales, who made the game’s final tackle with no time remaining, and recorded one of IU’s two sacks on the game.

Important Statistic of the Week

This was an incredibly even game from a statistical standpoint. The Hoosiers had 493 total yards on offense, which the Tigers had 498. Both teams had 27 first downs, and both also converted all of their opportunities in the red zone. IU and Mizzou had two sacks apiece, and even had roughly the same average yards per kickoff and punt. The stats show that even when both offenses are pretty evenly matched, even a decent day from the Hoosier defense will allow us to get victories.

Unit Grades

Offense: A-. The offense featured an incredibly balanced attack of 252 pass yards from Sudfeld and 241 rushing yards between Coleman, Roberts, and Devine Redding. There was even a 16-play, 75-yard, five-minute touchdown drive, which I’d like to see some more of in the future (the Tigers had the ball for 7 minutes more than us). But, we also did not turn the ball over once, and despite going an ugly 1-for-14 on third-down conversions, we nailed both of our fourth-down tries.

Defense: A-. Controlled the game and kept Mauk under wraps in the second half. Missouri’s O-line didn’t seem to have an answer for our front seven, and the defense was actually putting pressure on the QB, unlike what we saw against Bowling Green last weekend. Plus, they kept Mizzou out of the end zone and forced a field goal on their drive late in the fourth quarter. They did give up almost 500 total yards of offense to Mizzou though, and a few early breakdowns, along with that 15-yard penalty with no time remaining, prevent me from giving them full marks. However, there is a lot that the defense can build on from this performance.

Special Teams: B-. Aaron Del Grosso finally hit a field goal, but also missed one when the Hoosiers were set up with great field position after an interception early in the third quarter. I saw more touchbacks and longer punts this week though, so overall the special teams were more acceptable than in weeks past.

Overall: A+. Yeah I know the overall grade doesn’t make sense in the context of the rest of the grades. However, this was a stunning road victory over a nationally ranked team from the self-described best conference in college football, which came after a demoralizing loss last week. Thus, I give this game an A-plus. These Hoosiers are a resilient bunch.

Song For This Game

D'Angelo - Untitled (How Does It Feel) (via aft3rTh0ught)

D’Angelo Roberts scored the game-winner, so it’s only appropriate that I cue up some D’Angelo this week. How does it feel, Hoosier fans?

Next Week

The Hoosiers return to Memorial Stadium for their first Big Ten matchup of the year, as they face off against Maryland. The Terps are a worthy opponent, as they traveled to Syracuse and easily defeated the Orange 34-20 in the Carrier Dome yesterday. The Terps also feature one of the top wideouts in the country in Stefon Diggs, so it could be another shootout in Bloomington. Most of all, the Hoosiers need to avoid a letdown game and channel the energy of what should be an excited crowd at The Rock. We’ve seen the letdown game happen too many times after a huge victory (example: when we lost at home to Northwestern in hoops last season right after we knocked off third-ranked Wisconsin), so let’s hope that the Hoosiers get focused quickly for this one.

Quick Thoughts, Game Links, and Other Miscellany

· List of teams that have beaten Missouri since the start of the 2013 season: South Carolina, Auburn, Indiana. That’s some good company to be in.

· Commenter Sir Sci, a native Hoosier who’s at Missouri State for school, was at the game. Let’s make sure this guy gets to more Hoosier games in the future.

· KickSewly was at a wedding during this game. We need to send him to a wedding every weekend the Hoosiers play now. I am not really a superstitious person but in the case of IU football I believe that anything will help.

· Again, kudos to the Rock M Nation commenters who came around our site this week. Y’all were a fun bunch. I hope you guys win out this season so I can say that IU is better than (insert SEC team here) because TRANSITIVE PROPERTY OF SPORTS.

· Unfortunately, what was up with the Mizzou fans at the stadium booing Nick Mangieri’s last-minute injury late in the game?

· This win was huge. What does it mean?

· David Woods in the Star thinks the victory could be "program-changing"

· Mike Miller of the H-T calls the victory a "coming out party" for the defense

· Box Score

· Highlight Reel

· Kevin Wilson postgame press conference (h/t to the Herald-Times)