Fresh off last week’s disappointment on the road, the Indiana Hoosiers bounced back with a big victory in search of their second consecutive bowl game.
The Hoosiers had a host of quarterbacks in the game take snaps today, ranging from Richard Lagow to Tyler Natee to Zander Diamont and even Devine Redding. The result was the revitalization of the run game as the Hoosiers had two 100-yard rushers for the first time since 2014 even before Diamont’s late run to seal the deal.
Indiana finished with 650 yards of offense, the most yards on the season, including 414 yards on the ground, an unlikely mark given the lack of success the team has had on the ground.
Did Zander Diamont and Tyler Natee really just revive the offense?
Entering the day, the Hoosiers were 125th in the country in finishing drives once crossing the 40-yard line.
Kevin Wilson was fully aware of this as the Hoosiers turned to the unlikely duo of Natee and Diamont seemingly every time the Hoosiers crossed the 40 (though we did predict possibly more Zander in the game preview). Against Maryland’s horrendous run defense, Natee and Diamont were more than the Terrapins could handle (or were prepared for).
Natee ran 16 times for 102 yards and a touchdown while Diamont had 11 carries for 104 yards and two touchdowns. Mitchell Paige even added a rushing touchdown out of the package on a reverse.
The run game as a whole looked better even when Lagow was in as Devine Redding ran for 130 yards and a touchdown himself.
Can the Hoosiers sustain the success of the Zander Bacon package when not playing one of Division I’s worst run defenses? Who knows. But for today, it was a great solution to a problem that was crippling IU’s offense.
Despite off day for Hoosier defense, big plays still bailed them out
Entering as one of the top rush defenses in the country, IU was blown up on the ground, giving up 269 yards on the ground, 243 yards in the air and their second-highest point total of the season behind only the Ohio State game.
However, for as bad as the tackling was at times, the Hoosiers made some big plays on the defensive end. Marcelino Ball finished with an interception and a fumble recovery, the latter coming on a huge strip sack by Marcus Oliver that set up a touchdown that gave Indiana breathing room in the fourth.
While Indiana was gashed at times on the ground, Tom Allen’s defense still did enough in the takeaway department to have a positive impact on the game.
The Hoosiers are still on track to be bowl eligible
If Indiana wanted to make their second-straight bowl game, they had to win today’s game. The victory moves Indiana to 4-4 with a match-up on the road at Rutgers next week and a season finale against Purdue remaining.
While there is still little wiggle room with games against Penn State and at Michigan remaining, the Hoosiers need to just win half of their final four games to go back to a bowl game, which would be huge for the program.
Dan Feeney appears fully back and healthy, the offense just had it’s biggest output of the season and the team gets a chance at its third non-conference victory of the season next week.