Final: Indiana 48, Southern Illinois 47

Telling stat: 75 yards in 40 seconds

That’s how many yards the Southern Illinois offense went to get a potentially game-tying touchdown against the porous Indiana defense. Win or not, that cannot happen. If not for a dropped pass on the goal line, Indiana would’ve finished the day with arguably the worst loss in college football. But it got lucky one time.

Key play: 57-yard TD pass to Ricky Jones

Indiana could not afford a potential three-and-out on the first series of the second half. That would’ve been a disastrous way to start the third. Instead, Nate Sudfeld played like the leader he is and connected with one of IU’s emerging skill players. That finally got some momentum back for the Hoosiers after Mark Ionnotti ran in a one-yard score at the end of the half to make it an 11-point game. That was huge for Sudfeld to get some early confidence for the IU passing game.


-Jordan Howard does work

Man, does this kid look impressive or what? How about 145 yards and three touchdowns for a debut. The UAB transfer showed why he can and will be one of the best backs in the Big Ten. He even capped off his day with the go-ahead score. I understand that SIU is not Ohio State, but it was hard not to be impressed with the mix of speed and physicality Howard displayed. It’ll be fun to watch him against the bigger, better backs in the conference.

-So does Devine Redding

And it’s almost unfair to call Redding Howard’s understudy. Kevin Wilson stuck to his word and gave the sophomore plenty of work. His 16 carries turned into 68 yards and a pair of Indiana scores, including the first of the game on a nice little 13-yard scamper. I’ve been high on the aerial attack Indiana will likely utilize this season, but it’s clear that the Hoosiers have a couple capable backs.

-But Iannotti was most impressive

The Southern Illinois quarterback accounted for 517 yards and five touchdowns. Wow. I said coming into Saturday that he was the player to watch for the Salukis and he certainly didn’t disappoint. IU couldn’t tackle him or get a pass rush on him. If that’s a sign of things to come for the Hoosier defense, six wins will be awfully tough to come by.

What it means: Kevin Wilson avoids disaster 

A middle-of-the-pack Missouri Valley team should never come into a Big Ten stadium and have a shot to win. There’s a reason they don’t make spreads for games against FCS opponents. They’re supposed to be lopsided. Indiana should’ve rolled to a 30-point laugher. Instead, it has defensive issues galore to address.

What’s next: vs. Florida International

And what did Indiana’s next opponent do? It just embarrassed a solid Central Florida team. Sure they only scored 15 points, but there’s not much the Hoosier defense could’ve stopped Saturday. Time for an inexperienced team to buck up.