COLUMBIA, Mo. — Before they filtered off the field, before they climbed onto a plane and flew home to a better tomorrow, Indiana players met in a cluster near the edge of the field and celebrated the program’s biggest win in recent history with the IU fans who watched them do it.
The 31-27 victory over No. 18 Missouri stands as the hallmark moment of the Kevin Wilson era, a moment that has the potential to define a season should the Hoosiers move forward and build off the momentum they found in Columbia.
It was a coming out party for a defense that looked, for most of the afternoon, like a unit that was sick of derision. It was an Indiana defense that appeared to take last week’s message to heart. There were 11 tackles for loss, marking the first time IU has reached double digit TFLs since picking up 12 at Illinois in 2012. The Hoosiers held Missouri nearly 15 points below its season average, while breaking the Tigers’ streak of 47 consecutive games with a turnover forced.
Now they get to try to back it up next week in the Big Ten opener against Maryland.
“It’s this one, but we’re sitting there waiting for next week to go back to like we were,” Wilson said. “That’s what everyone’s gonna say. That’s the way it is at our place, all the negativity. We talked about we just play hard. You can’t wait for it to happen, you gotta make it happen with aggressiveness and attitude. You don’t wait and look around.”
Read the rest of this post »
COLUMBIA, Mo — It all became real inside the arms of Indiana linebacker Tegray Scales on a game-ending tackle that turned the Hoosiers from punchline to punchers.
Scales wrapped up Missouri receiver Marcus Murphy near midfield to seal the win, as his teammates spilled from the sideline to celebrate Indiana’s 31-27 upset victory over the No. 18 Tigers. As he stood up, Scales waved his arms from side to side, signaling that it was over. Then he ran to a small pocket of Hoosier fans in the corner of the stands at Faurot Field, tore off his helmet and looked up toward the section of crimson-clad supporters.
There, he spotted his parents and made sure he could share an unforgettable moment with them both.
“I was pointing up to them, showing them love for making the seven-hour drive,” Scales said.
Anyone who made the drive to Columbia on Saturday, anyone who watched on television, witnessed one of the most important upsets in program history. The victory is the Hoosiers’ biggest win over a ranked opponent on the road since toppling No. 9 Ohio State in 1987. Saturday marked Indiana’s first win over a ranked opponent since beating No. 15 Iowa in 2006. The win also snapped a streak of seven straight road losses.
“Guys played hard,” IU coach Kevin Wilson said. “We made good plays at the end. Good win, good team. Our team’s got a lot to grow and gain on it. It’s nice to finally play hard and get on the ride side.”
Read the rest of this post »
Withstand the Tigers’ pressure up front: Missouri boasts a pair of NFL-caliber rush ends in Shane Ray and Markus Golden. The duo will deal a sizable test to Indiana’s offensive line, which didn’t jump out to a great start through the first quarter and a half of last week’s game at Bowling Green. Ray and Golden have scouts at the next level salivating with their impact potential, of which the Hoosiers could feel the brunt of this afternoon. The two linemen have combined for 14 tackles for loss, on top of nine sacks. When Nate Sudfeld gets into an early rhythm it’s hard to take him out of it. Having Sudfeld settled in and running back Tevin Coleman established early will go a long way toward helping the Hoosiers when the pressure starts coming.
Win the turnover margin: Until the Indiana defense proves it can make necessary and critical stops, the Hoosiers will need a little help from the opposition. Think back to IU’s upset win at No. 24 Oregon a decade ago this month, when the Hoosiers took advantage of seven Ducks turnovers to claim the improbable victory. Indiana very likely requires similar assistance to pull off a win in Columbia. In last year’s meeting, Sudfeld was intercepted three times by the Tigers, digging a deeper hole for an IU squad that could hardly afford a sizable deficit. Indiana will need all the help it can get against Missouri, and a big advantage in the turnover margin is probably the Hoosiers’ best hope of staging an upset.
Contain Mauk: The trouble with a quarterback like Maty Mauk is that he can beat teams in myriad ways. He takes a gunslinger’s mentality into games and isn’t afraid to throw it deep. Mauk posted his fifth-career multi-touchdown game last week against Central Florida and has multiple touchdown passes in all three games this season. He has a trio of fine receivers to target in Bud Sasser, Jimmie Hunt and Darius White, but doesn’t need to rely solely on an aerial game. Mauk also has the ability to turn something out of nothing with his feet. The Hoosiers want to keep him locked into the pocket and take their chances with him through the air. The goal is not necessarily to stop him, but contain him.
4. Short-term memory: Last week’s loss at Bowling Green was a blow to a program that can hardly afford to let winnable games slip away. Beating No. 18 Missouri on the road is understandably a tough task for a Hoosiers squad coming off a defeat in a Mid-American Conference stadium seven days ago. But Indiana can’t allow that loss to linger. The focus has to be centered on moving forward. Even if things go the wrong way early, even if the rematch of last year’s blowout goes in much the same direction, the Hoosiers need to maintain focus and composure.