Wed, 25 Nov 2020

No. 17 Indiana and Rutgers hope to build on monster wins

Field Level Media
28 Oct 2020, 08:05 GMT+10

No. 17 Indiana is coming off one of the most thrilling victories in its history.

Rutgers also posted a victory last Saturday -- and any triumph is pretty exhilarating for a program that had gone nearly three calendar years without a conference win.

Two of the best storylines from the Big Ten's first weekend of action collide on Saturday when the Hoosiers hit the road to take on the Greg Schiano-led Scarlet Knights in Piscataway, N.J.

Indiana (1-0, 1-0 Big Ten) jumped into the AP poll and has its highest ranking since 1993 after it stunned then-No. 8 Penn State in overtime. Quarterback Michael Penix Jr. contorted and stretched the ball to the pylon for a two-point conversion and the dramatic 36-35 triumph.

Coach Tom Allen's Hoosiers won eight games last season, so it's not a surprise that Indiana can win games, but Saturday's win was special: Indiana hadn't beaten a team ranked as high as Penn State since toppling No. 3 Purdue in 1967.

"It has been crazy, I can confirm that, but a good kind of crazy," Allen said of the glow from the Penn State game. "It has been hard to sleep, for good reasons. My mind was just racing; my phone was blowing up with a lot of people reaching out congratulating us.

"But you have to come down and you have to get back to work. ... We have to be very focused. We have to be very laser-like in our intentions."

Indiana overcame a huge deficit in total yards (488-211) with the help of three turnovers, but that pales in comparison to what the Rutgers' defense did in a 38-27 win at Michigan State in its opener.

Rutgers (1-0, 1-0) took the ball away seven times, their most in a game since 2000. The Scarlet Knights recovered five fumbles, two by linebacker Olakunle Fatukasi, who also forced a fumble and made 10 tackles en route to Big Ten Co-Defensive Player of the Week honors.

Rutgers ended a 21-game Big Ten losing streak in Schiano's debut in his second stint as head coach. He was 68-67 while guiding the program from 2001 to 2011.

His message early this week was the same as Allen's: Focus on what is ahead.

"It's all eyes on Indiana," Schiano said. "As I tell them, the world will lie to you both in the good times and the bad, and you need to just stay on the process."

Led by Penix, Indiana returns most of its key skill players on offense from last season, including running back Stevie Scott III and wide receiver Whop Philyor. Penix was 19 of 36 for 170 yards in the opener, also rushing for the game-tying TD and two-point conversion with 22 seconds left in regulation.

Schiano revamped his roster with 10 transfers, several of whom made immediate impacts, including Nebraska grad transfer quarterback Noah Vedral. He was 18 of 29 for 169 yards, with one touchdown and one interception against Michigan State, also rushing for a touchdown. He is likely to eclipse the 1 yard passing Rutgers managed in last season's 35-0 loss to Indiana.

The Scarlet Knights' defensive line is filled with transfers, including former Michigan Wolverines defensive tackle Michael Dwumfour, who made six tackles, including 1.5 for loss, in his Rutgers debut.

Rutgers will be looking for an even bigger victory this week; the Scarlet Knights have lost 28 consecutive games to AP Top 25 teams, dating to 2009.

--Field Level Media

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