Rapid Reaction: Indiana defense helps Tuttle topple Wisconsin
The Indiana Hoosiers were without start quarterback Michael Penix for Saturday’s game at Wisconsin, and that was a blow to IU’s offense.
But that didn’t help the Badgers against the Hoosiers defense.
Indiana held on in a tight, defensive game without their biggest engine on offense because the defense was excellent, holding Wisconsin to two field goals in a 14-6 victory. Backup quarterback Jack Tuttle threw for two touchdowns in Penix’s place and IU denied Grahan Mertz and the Wisconsin offense at the most crucial times. The Hoosiers didn’t do a lot on offense either, gaining just 220 yards before late kneeldowns, but took advantage of their two best drives with TDs.
Wisconsin took over on its 7-yard line with 4:48 remaining in the game after an IU punt. The Badgers drove deep into IU territory but the Hoosiers denied the hosts on fourth down from the IU 21 and killed off the clock.
It looked like Tuttle might have to leave the game in the fourth quarter after taking a hit. But before freshman Dexter Williams could take over, Tuttle ran back from the locker room just in time.
Indiana (6-1) drove right down the field on its first possession of the second half to take a 14-3 lead, with Tuttle hitting Whop Philyor on third and goal for a 7-yard touchdown with 11:03 left in the third quarter.
Then Jamar Johnson nabbed his fourth interception of the season, when Mertz’s pass went behind his intended receiver and the junior defensive back pounced. The Hoosiers gave the ball back when Tuttle ran a quarterback sneak and fumbled, with Wisconsin recovering.
But the Hoosiers defense held its ground again. Wisconsin (2-2) drove to the IU 11 but settled for Collin Larsh’s 28-yard field goal.
No. 12 IU led 7-3 at halftime as Wisconsin’s best drive ended in a field goal.
Wisconsin drove to the IU 39-yard line near the end of the first half but Mertz fumbled when he was sacked and the Hoosiers recovered the ball.
IU drove 12 plays on its ensuing possession, capped when Tuttle hit tight end Peyton Hendershot for a 2-yard TD and a 7-0 lead with 11:03 left in the second quarter.
No. 16 Wisconsin then drove 81 yards in 12 plays for a 29-yard field goal by Larsh to draw within 7-3.
Indiana saw Tuttle start for the first time in his career in place of Penix, who tore his ACL last week against Maryland and is out for the season.
Wisconsin had defeated Indiana in the previous 10 meetings between the teams.