Rapid Reaction: Dominant effort by Indiana defense sets tone in win over Maryland
Final Score: Maryland 11, No. 12 Indiana 27
Brief Recap: Indiana was not as sharp as it was in the near-upset of Ohio State. In fact, Maryland kept the score at 7-3 heading into halftime and could have been up had it not been for some crucial errors by Taulia Tagovailoa and big plays by Indiana’s defense. The Hoosiers finally took control in the third quarter of the game and were able to roll to the end behind a strong defensive effort. One big thing worth noting is that starting quarterback Michael Penix Jr. did not finish the contest after leaving due to what appeared to be a leg injury in the second half.
Key Player: Indiana’s defense. Trying to limit this to one player Saturday would be nearly impossible. Jerome Johnson had a sack. D.K. Bonhomme recorded a safety. Tiawan Mullen, Micah McFadden, and Jaylin Williams recorded interceptions, marking the fourth game in six games played that the Hoosiers have three interceptions. (Michigan State, Rutgers, and Ohio State are the other such games) If those numbers aren’t dominant enough for you, the Hoosiers held Maryland to 300 total yards of offense and allowed Indiana’s offense to dominate the time of possession.
Key Moment: Coming out of the half, Indiana faced a short fourth down deep in Maryland’s territory. The Terrapins stopped the Hoosiers, getting the ball back on their own four-yard line. It was on the ensuing play when quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa was taken down in the end zone for the safety, putting two points on the board and giving the ball right back to Indiana. Michael Penix Jr. and the offense used that good field position to cover 53 yards on eight plays for a touchdown. That made it 17-3 with Maryland never able to get any closer in the action.
Key Stat: Three, the number of interceptions by Indiana’s defense. It gives the Hoosiers 16 interceptions on the season, the best total in the nation despite playing in fewer games than most of the other teams on the list.
What it means for Maryland: For the Terrapins, it was really just a positive to get the team back on the field after missing two straight weeks due to COVID-19. Now, the goal is still on developing one of the youngest teams in the country and building toward 2021 and beyond. Tagovailoa was nowhere near as sharp as he was in back-to-back wins over Minnesota and Penn State, though the long layoff likely had an impact. Hopefully head coach Mike Locksley can get the team ready and focused for the last two games of the season.
What it means for Indiana: The outlook for the Hoosiers has drastically changed following Friday’s news that Ohio State canceled Saturday’s game against Illinois. That puts the Buckeyes’ season in serious jeopardy as they must return to action next weekend against Michigan State to have a shot to qualify for the B1G Championship. Why is that significant? Because at 5-1, Indiana has now completed six games, the current minimum requirement to play for the conference championship. Should Ohio State be eliminated from the race, that would open the door for the Hoosiers to play for a conference title in Indianapolis. For now, Tom Allen and Indiana will simply look to keep the strong results coming.