The last play of the Ohio State-Indiana game perfectly encapsulated the theme of the entire game. Indiana battles hard-drives to the five yard line. Something goes awry-bad snap, injuries to Nate Sudfeld and Jordan Howard. Despite that, Indiana continued to battle-backup QB Zander Diamont scrambled away from the pressure and threw a catchable ball. Ultimately though, Ohio State was too much, as Indiana came up just short-Ezekiel Elliot showed why he is a Heisman Favorite, and Eli Apple knocked the pass away at the last second.
Instead of piling the blame on Ohio State as this season’s Florida State, how about some credit to the Hoosiers. With Sudfeld and Howard, this game might have ended up very differently. Howard currently leads the FBS in rushing yards, a testament to not only his talent but the imposing Indiana offensive line. Sudfeld was excellent until he was sidelined with an ankle injury, but props to Zander Diamont for doing a nice job in the biggest moment of his life and using his rushing abilities to keep Indiana in the game. This game signified a cultural shift in Indiana Football. It would have been so sweet to get the victory and to be doted upon by ESPN, but they should be proud of how they battled against the number one team in the country. The secondary was excellent for most of the game, and there was no quit in the Hoosiers. This bodes well for the future, not only in 2015 but beyond. If Indiana can begin to lure some of those stud athletes out of Chicago away from Michigan, Notre Dame, and Michigan State, there might be something brewing in Bloomington on the gridiron. Indiana should find themselves in the tail end of the Top 25 next week.
The Hoosiers are ready to make some noise in the B1G East.
Zander Diamont filled in admirably for Nate Sudfeld at QB.
Up Next: @ Penn State
This game is almost as important as the game against Ohio State. It’s easy to play when there’s no pressure and you’re big underdogs. It’s a different story when people start paying attention. Indiana needs to prove that last week wasn’t a fluke and they’re here to stay. The secondary will be tested by PSU QB Christian Hackenberg, an expected top pick in next year’s draft. That being said, Penn State hasn’t proven themselves to be a powerhouse team this year. Indiana needs to win by at least a touchdown to secure their place among the best teams in college football and a spot in the top 25.
The Return of the Hawkeyes
Iowa’s battle to rejoin college football’s elite teams has been long and arduous, but the fruits of their labor should come in the form of a Top 25 ranking for the first time in five years. It wasn’t their best offensive game, as CJ Beathard struggled but was bailed out by running back Jordan Canzeri’s big day. But the defense stepped up in a big way, with Desmond King providing the big plays as he pulled in two more interceptions. Wisconsin was almost a foregone conclusion as B1G West champion before the season started, but it’s been a different story than expected this year. Both Iowa and Northwestern have jumped out to impressive 5-0 starts. Iowa’s resurgence has been on the back of CJ Beathard’s promising first season as a starter and the leg of kicker Marshall Koehn. If Beathard continues to grow and Iowa dominates in the trenches as they have historically, there could be a lot of good things happening in Iowa City this year. With four spots available in the College Football Playoff and 5 power conferences, the B1G is a virtual lock to have a team end up in the playoff. Why not Your Iowa Hawkeyes?
Reunited and it feels so good. Iowa finally reclaims the Heartland Trophy from Wisconsin.
Cornerback Desmond King has been key for the Hawkeye defense.
Up Next: Illinois
Illinois has been a much downtrodden program due to former coach Tim Beckham verbally abusing his players and forcing them to play while injured. With him gone, it seems as if a dark cloud has been lifted from Fighting Illini football. Illinois went out and scorched Kent State in their first game without Beckham, and then continued to destroy FCS opponents by trampling Western Illinois. Illinois seemed vulnerable in a blowout loss to North Carolina, but they secured a win in B1G action last week, squeaking past Nebraska 14-13. Iowa needs to make sure they don’t fall into a trap game while coasting on the good vibes of being ranked for the first time in too long. Beathard will need to improve from last week, as Illinois’ defense appears to be legit. There are no more gimmie’s on Iowa’s schedule, and even one loss could eliminate them from B1G West title contention as Northwestern continues to cruise.
Other Notes from around the division:
- Northwestern’s victory over Stanford looks better and better as the Cardinal continue to demolish preseason Pac-12 favorites. Stanford is undefeated in Pac-12 play, winning over USC and putting a beatdown on Arizona. Conversely, with Northwestern’s continued success, Stanford’s loss to them suddenly doesn’t look so bad.
- It was a good day for football in Indiana, as Purdue almost came away with the upset at Michigan State. MSU appears more vulnerable than they did at the beginning of the season, as their “statement game” victory over Oregon is now unimpressive after Oregon got absolutely torched by Utah last week. None of the Top 5 teams have appeared dominant in every game they have played. Michigan State needs to kick it into high gear before it gets too late.
- Speaking of Michigan State…This is a perfect time for Rutgers to pull off the upset. While everyone is writing them off due to the Scarlet Knights mediocre start to the season, Purdue has yet to beat an FBS team but almost managed to shock the world last week. Also, Rutgers’ loss to Washington State, a proverbial nail in their coffin of B1G hopes, appears less so now that Wazzu duked it out with Cal (No. 24) for four quarters last week. Rutgers fans were excited for a potential Rettig-Carroo connection this year, but so far all they’ve gotten is Laviano-Opposing Defense. Rutgers is still 0-0 in B1G play. There is still hope.