Rapid Reaction: Indiana's hot start to the season continues with romp over Rutgers
Final Score: Indiana 37, Rutgers 21
Brief Recap: This was probably the most unlikely matchup of 1-0 Big Ten teams this week. Both came off exciting wins that caught the eyes of the college football world. But in the battle of who would continue that momentum into Week 2, Indiana most certainly won that battle. It didn’t look like that was going to happen at first as Rutgers carried a lead well into the second quarter. Then, two late first-half touchdowns gave the Hoosiers a 20-7 lead. In the second half, Indiana’s offensive surge continued as quarterback Michael Penix Jr. powered the Hoosier offense with three passing touchdowns and another one on the ground. Rutgers fell behind by double digits but made a late push. That included what could’ve been a wild scoring play as the Scarlet Knights threw eight laterals en route to a touchdown pass, but the play was called back because of one lateral being an illegal forward pass.
Key Player: Indiana quarterback Michael Penix Jr. became the center piece of the Hoosiers’ overtime win against Penn State. Once again, Penix made his impact on the game known early and often. He did it through the air, throwing for 238 yards and three touchdowns. He also was a big part of the Indiana ground game as he rushed for 20 yards and a score.
Key Moment: In the second quarter, Rutgers continued to lead No. 18 Indiana 7-6. But then, some costly mistakes from Scarlet Knights quarterback Noah Vedral started to loom large. At their own 19-yard line. Vedral threw an interception. With Indiana taking over at the six-yard line, Penix finished off the short drive and gave Indiana a 13-7 lead. Following a Hoosier kick off, Vedral threw an interception on the next play. Once again, Indiana had it deep in Rutgers territory and converted to make it 20-7 heading into halftime. The Scarlet Knights never recovered.
Key Stat: Three, regarding the number of interceptions Rutgers quarterback Noah Vedral threw in Saturday’s loss. Two of them proved costly as they directly set up Indiana scoring drives. After those two Hoosier touchdowns, Rutgers spent the rest of the game playing catchup.
What it means for Indiana: The Hoosiers have to be smiling with glee as they’ve earned two wins against division foes. They also get to watch their fellow east members drop games left and right. If Indiana can just stay the course, the Hoosiers will have a major say in who wins the east division. That run to win the division crown hits a major moment next week when Indiana takes on Michigan.
What it means for Rutgers: The Scarlet Knights have plenty of encouraging things to talk about at 1-1. They broke their long Big Ten losing streak and pushed a solid Indiana squad. The biggest struggle in this game for Rutgers was the interceptions by Vedral. The offense has shown itself to be capable, and the defense has shown bright spots. The biggest thing is just limiting mistakes. That margin of error grows much larger next week as the Scarlet Knights head to Columbus to take on Ohio State.