The Spartans led the Hoosiers in the Battle for the Old Brass Spittoon in most categories. Total yards (540 to IU’s 288), Passing yards (298 to IU’s 31), first downs (29 to IU’s 11), and 3rd down efficiency (50% to IU’s 25%). The Spartans by all measure should have dominated this game.
And yet… somehow Indiana ended Saturday with a Big Ten away game win. When all signs, and our prior 7 games point to a Michigan State victory, it could be easy to understand why Hoosier fans felt so deflated entering this one. Thankfully, Tom Allen didn’t allow that to affect the Hoosier locker room. He had these guys ready to play tough and his energy and expression on the sideline spilled onto the field. Tom Allen’s seemed often reserved this season, good to see him get to let loose and show of some of the #LEO energy that was rampant throughout our miraculous COVID season.
The design runs were good to see from Dexter Williams II. Dexter ended his day on the ground with 86 yards on 16 carries. Walt Bell tailored this game plan to Dexter Williams legs throwing the ball a total of 7 times for 2 completions. While you would have liked to see the Hoosiers look to air it out a bit more, Dexter and company were able to deliver enough offense to get the job done, and honestly, you CAN NOT ask for more at this point. Well done by Dexter for giving the Hoosier fans something to watch against the Spartans.
What allowed the Hoosiers to get any progress on the ground was the improved play of the offensive line. The Indiana offensive line has been utterly abysmal for the entirety of this season. Today they were able to provide a level of protection that they have been unable to provide all year. Credit to the coaching staff for not losing the locker room this far into the season. Not many teams can continue to look to develop and grow following a 7 game losing skid. That can often be grounds for throwing the towel in. Tom Allen still has these boys showing up to put the time in. Credit to the big uglies for showing an aggression they’ve kept in the holster prior to facing off with the Spartans.
No person was more grateful of the offensive line’s performance than Shaun Shivers, who ended his day with a huge stat line. Shivers was able to amass 115 yards on 13 carries while racking up 2 Touchdowns. His largest run of the day was this 79 yard monster.
Credit to Shaun Shivers for hitting the holes hard in this one. He consistently looked to commit to a hole quickly and get downfield. The East and west game hasn’t faired to well for the Hoosiers, so it was good to see the Hoosiers give Shivers the initial push necessary to find the best gaps in the defense.
The Indiana defense bent a lot in this one. Allowing 540 yards usually spells doom for a defensive unit. While that is usually the case, this Indiana side was able to step up and not break on enough Michigan State drives to give the offense a chance to win the game. All you can ask of your defense, and they delivered on Saturday. Jonathon Haynes was able to garner a key pick in this game.
The Spartans were down some key defensive linemen thanks to their tunnel antics with the Wolverines a few weeks ago. Not our fault. I’m still going to give the Hoosier offensive line all the credit in the world for delivering an unexpectedly fierce performance.
While this season will ultimately end without the Hoosiers seeing a bowl game. At this point, it’s simply time to ruin Purdue’s day this coming weekend. Purdue is already bowl eligible. So Saturday’s Bucket Game will be played entirely for pride. I will be in attendance with the family occupying two spots in Lot 2. Gotta get up for a rivalry game, no matter what the records are. In a season that has been largely heartbreaking, and following an inspiring victory in East Lansing, the Hoosiers will look to end their season on a season highlight. I don’t ask for much as an Indiana Football fan… just beat the Boilermakers.
While the team doesn’t have much still to play for, for us fans this game is often everything. If we aren’t going to play a season of great football, just deliver a win over Purdue and I can cuddle up for winter far happier.
Thanks for taking the time to read these thoughts of an Indiana fanboy. Enjoy this win this week. But let’s go get this last one.
Down with the Boilermakers!
LUX ET VERITAS!