Indiana vs. Northwestern Recap

Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports /

The Indiana Hoosiers were embarrassed against the Northwestern Wildcats over the weekend at Ryan Field in Evanston, Illinois, losing 24-14. The game slipped out of the hands of IU in the second quarter as Northwestern took a commanding 21-3 lead. The Wildcat offense was on point for the third week in a row, firing on all cylinders for the majority of the game.

Indiana continues to get off to these slow starts, forcing them to rally from a deficit in the second half. The same trends also continued from previous weeks, too many field goals and the inability to run the ball.

With the return on All-American, Dan Feeney, the Hoosiers appeared to be poised to finally get the run game back to normal. Think again, as a team IU rushed for a total of 84 yards. The bulk of those carries came from Devine Redding, 16 rushes for 42 yards, an average of 2.6 yards per clip.

While Feeney’s return was plagued with limited snaps, another star offensive lineman has only played two games this season, Dimitric Camiel. With these injuries, the run game has suffered and its forced Kevin Wilson to rely on his quarterback to throw 59 times.

Indiana’s inability to score touchdowns in the opposing territory has been a story all season and its another reason why IU lost this game. Multiple times during the game, IU found themselves deep in Northwestern territory and the offense stalled. The defense tightened and all of a sudden it was 4th and long and IU was forced to kick a field goal.

This cannot continue to happen if IU wants to win football games because, while the defense has improved drastically, they’re not good enough to hold Big Ten teams to single digits. Simply put, 14 points isn’t going to be enough to win games in, arguably, the best conference in the country.

Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports /

Credit the Northwestern offense for coming out and attacking the IU defense early and often. They built a solid 14-0 lead just seven minutes into the game and didn’t hold back. The Thorson-Carr connection was efficient once again. Completing seven passes for 125 yards along with a 36-yard stumbling touchdown for Austin Carr, the Big Ten’s leading receiver.

While the passing game flourished against Indiana’s corners, the running game was also another positive aspect for the Wildcats. Justin Jackson the ball carrier, rushed for just under 100 yards (94) on 28 attempts. While those numbers don’t stand out, Northwestern rush yards were tapered in the second half due to running the clock out to waste time.

These numbers are pedestrian for Jackson as the past two games, he rushed for 171 yards and 188 yards, respectively. As surprising as it may be, Northwestern holds the conference leaders in receiving (Austin Carr) and rushing (Justin Jackson).

Indiana’s defense was the victim of these star players as they tortured the defense throughout the game. IU’s defense was also unable to force any takeaways for just the second time this season.

Indiana’s defense struggled, although the highest scoring offense in the Big Ten last season should be able to muster more than 14 points. Richard Lagow was inept, consistently missing throws to receivers down the field.

In particular, this throw needed to be thrown in the middle of the field and Luke Timian would’ve ran it in for a touchdown. Instead Lagow places the throw towards the sideline, forcing Timian to readjust and allowing the corner to catch up and make the play.

For a highly touted Junior College quarterback transfer, these mistakes cannot continue to happen if he wants to keep his job. IU fans everywhere have already been calling for Zander Diamont to replace Lagow permanently as the stater. If these mistakes continue to happen, Diamont might just get his chance.

Mandatory Credit: Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports /

This was a game that Indiana needed to win, it was against a middle of the pack Big Ten team that could be beat. This loss now forces the Hoosiers to win 3 of their last 5 games in order to be eligible for the postseason. Indiana’s last five games include, Maryland, at Rutgers, Penn State, at Michigan, and Purdue, respectively.

The good news is that three wins aren’t hard to find in that schedule. Penn State is a winnable game, but due to their resurgence and big win over #2 Ohio State, IU’s chances seem slim. Going on the road to the Big House against Michigan is the biggest test the Hoosiers will face this season and Michigan has been rolling through their schedule.

Therefore, the three wins will most likely come against, Maryland, Rutgers and Purdue. If the Hoosiers fail to win again this weekend at home against Maryland, the road to a bowl game will become that much harder.