Indiana wins Oaken Bucket, clinches first bowl berth in eight years
Final: Indiana 54, Purdue 36
Key play: 72-yard touchdown pass to Andre Booker
Booker only had one catch, but it was a big one. Nate Sudfeld connected with him when the Hoosiers were holding on to a one-possession lead at the start of the fourth quarter. Booker was wide open on the right sideline and Sudfeld delivered a perfect strike to give IU some needed breathing room. Given the way IU had played in the fourth quarter this year, that was a massive play to bust things open for good.
Telling stat: IU racks up 8.2 yards per play
No matter what IU did, Purdue didn’t have an answer. It didn’t even feel like the Hoosiers had 14 third-down attempts because of the fact that they had scoring drive after scoring drive. You could tell that the Purdue defense was gassed by the fourth quarter, especially going against IU’s pass protection. The offensive line deserves a ton of credit for the versatility it showed on Saturday. There aren’t too many teams in all of college football that can rack up 300-plus yards running and passing in the same game. Say what you want about IU’s struggles this year, but that offense shined when it needed to most.
-Jordan Howard sits, Devin Redding stars
Once again, Howard was a game-time decision with a knee injury, but he couldn’t give it a go. In his absence, Redding stepped up with exactly the performance Indiana needed. He showed power, acceleration and even some hops in a feature role. It was a carry-over performance from what he did against Maryland last week. With IU in must-win scenarios in each of the last two weeks, Redding delivered back-to-back career highs. That’s next-man-up at its finest.
-Markell Jones sets Purdue freshman RB record
If there’s one big positive for Purdue moving forward, it’s Jones. Once again, the true freshman shined in a record-breaking performance. Jones ripped off 96 yards and a score, but couldn’t get more looks with Purdue trailing for the entire day. The Boilers will return Jones and a veteran offensive line. It’s clear that will be the foundation for this team moving forward.
–Nate Sudfeld becomes IU’s all-time passing leader
The IU quarterback also made some history on Saturday. He became the program’s all-time leading passer with another monster game. He racked up 350 yards and tossed four touchdowns for the second straight week. The IU signal-caller leads the B1G in passing, and Saturday was a perfect example why. It doesn’t matter that the Hoosiers don’t have any household names out wide receiver. Sudfeld delivers to guys like Mitchell Paige and Simmie Cobbs, and he operates behind one of the country’s more underrated offensive lines. Finally for IU, that’s a winning combination.
What it means: Indiana is bowling…finally
The drought is over. For the first time in eight years, Indiana celebrated a bowl berth. For a team that lost six games to start B1G play, that’s somewhat amazing. Even more amazing is the fact that Hoosiers got their two B1G wins without Howard. He’ll have a month to get healthy before IU plays in a bowl game. For some programs, six wins might not mean a whole lot. But Kevin Wilson got over the hump he needed to earn some long-term stability in Bloomington. Saturday’s win could’ve earned him an extension, as well as a place in IU football lore. Really.