Final score: Indiana 41 Rutgers 0
It started with a botched punt by Rutgers return specialist Hunter Hayek and it ended with Indiana touchdown by Cole Gest with over eight minutes remaining in the game. Everything in between was dominated by the Hoosiers, as well.
A little momentum and some wet weather were suppose to favor Rutgers in this one. Maybe the Scarlet Knights wouldn’t leave Bloomington with a win, but this should’ve been a competitive contest. Instead, the Hoosiers pummeled Rutgers from the start, and were relentless until the scoreboard read zeros.
Tom Allen’s defense held Rutgers to less than 200 total yards, forced two turnovers and only allowed two conversions on 13 third down attempts. Offensively, the Hoosiers racked up 503 yards, with 267 coming on the ground.
This was the way Indiana was expected to play from the start of the season, but injuries and some bad luck hindered its success. But bowl hopes are still alive in Bloomington after improving to 5-6 after the victory.
Key play: Indiana recovering Hayek’s fumbled punt
The fumble gave the Hoosiers possession at their own six-yard line on their first drive of the game. Morgan Ellison punched it in on the first play, giving IU and 7-0 advantage quickly. And it spiraled out of control from their.
Nothing went according to plan for Chris Ash and the Scarlet Knights on either side of the ball. Maybe that fumble — as well as the pressure of fighting for bowl eligibility — was a shot to Rutgers’ confidence. Clearly it was the turning point, because Indiana just ran away with this one.
Stat of the game: Third down efficiency
You could point to several statistics in this one, but those most telling was Indiana’s success on third down, and Rutgers’ failure.
The Hoosiers converted on 10-of-17 third down attempts while Rutgers converted on just 2-of-13. The Scarlet Knights’ inability to move the chains and keep drives moving really derailed their chances of getting a win at Memorial Stadium
What it means
Bowl eligibility is still within reach for Allen and the Hoosiers. Who would’ve thought that was a possibility a few weeks ago when the team sat at 3-6 on the season without a single B1G win?
Indiana has rallied nicely in the last two weeks and has an opportunity to get to a third consecutive postseason — quite an accomplishment for this program. The only challenge remaining? Beating Purdue for a fifth-straight year in Ross-Ade Stadium next Saturday.
For Rutgers, bowl hopes are dashed and it’s back to the drawing board. This was a particularly disappointing loss because this team had played so well recently. This really should’ve been a more competitive contest.