WHAT HAPPENED: Indiana quarterback Nate Sudfeld threw for 335 yards and two touchdowns and also rushed for another and the Indiana defense held Bowling Green without an offensive touchdown in a 42-10 win over the Falcons in front of 41,869 at Memorial Stadium on Saturday, allowing the Hoosiers to improve to 2-1.
WHO MADE IT HAPPEN: Sudfeld was brilliant again in his first start, completing 17 of 26 passes for his second straight 300-yard game. He’s already thrown for 917 yards and 10 scores in his sophomore season, more than he had all year last year as a sophomore. Bowling Green took away the middle of the field, but he attacked the Falcons cornerbacks, who were in one-on-one coverage on receivers Cody Latimer and Kofi Hughes.
Latimer caught six passes for a career-high 137 yards and a touchdown after grabbing just five passes in the first two games of the season. It was an emotional game for Latimer, whose father Colby had played at Bowling Green. Colby Latimer died of colon cancer when his son was 12 years old.
Indiana tailbacks Tevin Coleman and Stephen Houston both went over 100 yards in the game. It was the first time two Indiana ball carriers did that in a game since Houston and quarterback Tre Roberson did it in 2011 against Northwestern. It was the first time two running backs did it since 2003 when BenJarvis Green-Ellis and Brian Lewis did it, also against Northwestern. Houston rushed for 155 yards on just 13 carries and Coleman rushed for 129 and two scores, including a 43-yard touchdown sprint that gave the Hoosiers the lead for good.
Senior wide receiver Kofi Huhges had four catches for 34 yards and a touchdown, a one-handed grab on an 8-yard fade route. Junior receiver Shane Wynn had three catches for 81 yards, including a 48-yard reception that set up Coleman’s first touchdown run. Junior wide receiver Nick Stoner had two catches for 40 yards, but both were third down receptions with the Hoosiers needing 10 yards or more. His 20-yard catch on 3rd and 17 set up Coleman for his 43-yard run. Quarterback Tre Roberson stepped in and had a 3-yard touchdown run.
The Hoosiers got several critical defensive performances to hold Bowling Green without a score. Cornerbacks Tim Bennett and Michael Hunter both stepped up with a combined seven pass break-ups. Defensive end Nick Mangieri had a sack and an interception off a pass broken up by Bennett. Defensive end Ryan Phillis also had a sack and defensive tackle Bobby Richardson had 1.5 tackles for loss.
WHY DID IT HAPPEN: The Indiana defense was thrilled to get back to being itself. Playing against Navy restricted them to the assignment football that defending the triple option requires, and the Hoosiers didn’t adjust well to that. But against Bowling Green, they were less concerned about making mistakes and more aggressive and came up with critical plays to make stops.
The Falcons managed 409 yards of offense and nine of their drives reached Indiana territory, but the Hoosiers forced two punts, turnovers on an interception and a fumble, two missed field goals and four turnovers on downs. All four times Bowling Green got in the red zone, they were turned back. Had it not been for a blocked punt by linebacker Paul Senn, they would have never scored a touchdown.
The Hoosiers had five tackles for loss in the game and also got a pair of sacks and made Matt Johnson’s life difficult, eventually taking him out of the game with a knee injury. They got outstanding cornerback play, and they held Bowing Green to just 136 yards on the ground, more than 300 fewer than Navy had a week ago.
The defense’s performance allowed the offense to overcome two failed attempts to score at 4th-and-goal at the 1 in the first half, and the Hoosiers eventually scored touchdowns on five consecutive possessions. With Bowling Green clogging up the middle of the field and using press coverage on the wide receivers, the Hoosiers attacked the perimeter and Bowling Green’s man-to-man coverage with Latimer and Hughes simply beating their men down the field. When Houston and Coleman got past the line of scrimmage, they broke massive runs down the sidelines and the Bowling Green defense simply didn’t catch up.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN: Because of the loss to Navy, the Hoosiers are still in a position of needing at least one game that would be considered an upset to get the six wins to become bowl eligible. The Hoosiers could be favorites or close to it in November games against Illinois, Minnesota and Purdue, but winning all three of them only gets them to five wins. Getting six means beating Missouri, Penn State, Michigan State, Michigan, Wisconsin or Ohio State.
But beating Bowling Green first means that the Hoosiers only have to win one of those games if they hold serve at home against the Illini, Golden Gophers and Boilermakers instead of two or more. It also means that they have some momentum going into the more winnable stretch, which starts against Missouri next week. In addition, it also allows them to write off the Navy game as something freakish caused by playing against the unique triple-option offense. Defensive players talked at length after the game about what it meant to get back to their base defense and fly around and make plays without having to be as concerned about being in an exact spot on every play. The Navy loss still puts them in a hole, but this win allowed the Hoosiers to shrink it considerably.
WHO SAID WHAT:
IU coach Kevin Wilson
On Cornerbacks: “I thought Mike (Hunter) and Timmy (Bennett) competed. Made some plays. That’s a developing position, though. Mike misses his last year with a hernia. Timmy’s played safety, so those guys are kind of learning in the fire, but they’re doing good. …. They’re going to be challenged and pressed even more with what we’ll see next week with that crowd coming in and what we’ll see in Big Ten play.”
On defense: “It was good, I think we had 10 stops, three-and-outs, third down stops there. They were actually 8-of-20 on third down and 2-of-6 on fourth down. I think another thing was they were 0-for-3 in the red zone. They worked us down there pretty good. … Our guys, they did bend a little, but we got them on third down, got them third-and-long, got some pressure on the quarterback a little bit. Sometimes they worked us and converted, but it was a good, it was nice to see the defensive players. I thought our guys did a nice job in practice, our coaches gave them a good plan. It was nice to come out and play well.
“It’s good, because last week they were the worst defense that ever played in the history of the universe if you listen. But now, they’re going to be the greatest thing ever. Nah, they just are what they are. They’re young. They’re getting better. Got some freshman linebackers. There’s not a senior on the defensive line. You’ve got two corners you’re talking about, it’s their third game. You’re learning under fire. Last week, we never got that team on schedule. Ever. When we did, we got to those 3rd-and-8s, we almost got the stop or the 2nd and 20 or the PI call last week. At least today, we had some negative plays that got them a little bit.”
IU safety Greg Heban
“It was great for the defense. Coaches talked all week about responding, how are we going to respond. We can respond positively or negatively. I think the defense responded positively. “
“The main thing was just coming back to our normal scheme. We were able to kind of cut loose and fly around. I think the defense had a lot more fun today flying around. Kind of like how we did in the first game. You could tell in the first game we were flying around having fun. Last week, we were too focused on where we needed to be.”
IU wide receiver Kofi Hughes
“They played a lot of man. As a receiver, that’s what we love. I don’t know about other teams, but that’s one-on-one’s for us. That’s practice every single day. We just said, ‘Hey, throw the one-on-one matchups all day.’ … If you try to man us up, we’re gonna go ahead and throw it on you.”