BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Under the lights for the first time this season, Indiana’s performance matched the hype in a 34-3 victory over Northwestern on Saturday. For the first time since 2007, Indiana has won seven games in a season. With the win, IU head coach Tom Allen evens his coaching record at Indiana to 17-17. No Indiana coach has finished with a .500 record since Bo McMillin, who held the job from 1934-1947. Below, see our biggest takeaways from IU’s comfortable win.
Michael Penix’s Durability is a Problem
Only in 2019 can Indiana football have a 7-2 record, but still have a damper placed on the overall feeling of the game. QB Michael Penix exited action late in the second quarter with an undisclosed injury.
In the second quarter, he took some hard shots, as he tried to get himself involved in the running game. Penix impressed again in his near-full half of football, completing 10 of 15 passes for 162 yards and a rushing touchdown. His electrifying play keeps Indiana fans wanting more and more.
Allen did not confirm when the injury occurred. In six starts, Penix has left with an injury four times. There is no update on his availability for IU’s next matchup, at Penn State in two weeks.
Stevie Scott Needs the Ball Inside the Ten
Time and time again, when Indiana drove down the field, the Hoosiers relied on Stevie Scott to finish the job. IU had six red zone trips on Saturday night. On four of those drives, Scott touched the ball inside the ten-yard line (including his 20-yard receiving TD). IU scored a touchdown on all four possessions. When Scott didn’t get the ball inside the 10, the Hoosiers had to settle for field goals.
Even if Scott doesn’t reel off explosive plays, his shorter carries still wear down the defense, open up the passing game, and create running room for the quarterbacks. Scott keeps getting better as the year goes on, and Indiana will need to continue feeding him as the weather gets colder and the opponents get tougher.
Takeaways, Takeaways, Takeaways
On Northwestern’s first play of the game, QB Aidan Smith took off for a 22-yard gain. Just when IU fans were saying, “Uh oh,” freshman CB Tiawan Mullen skillfully pried the ball out of Smith’s hands. Junior DE Michael Ziemba recovered the fumble, and IU’s offense capitalized by scoring a touchdown to take a 10-0 lead.
On the night, Indiana literally took the ball away three times from the Wildcats. LB Cam Jones stripped RB Drake Anderson of the football, then DL Alfred Bryant stole a lateral that would make Victor Oladipo proud. IU forced just four turnovers through the first six games of the season; they have created seven takeaways in the last three contests, including three on Saturday.
Northwestern Couldn’t Stop IU’s Receivers
In an article released earlier this week, Pro Football Focus rated Indiana’s wide receiver group as 16th-best in the country, ahead of powerhouse teams like Ohio State, Texas, Penn State, and Michigan. On Saturday night, Northwestern’s secondary could not match the firepower that IU’s pass catchers brought to Memorial Stadium.
The Wildcats couldn’t guard the Hoosier wideouts, so they held and tackled them. Northwestern picked up four pass interference penalties, all of which came in the first half. Junior WR Ty Fryfogle drew two of the infractions, while junior WR Whop Philyor and senior WR Nick Westbrook claimed one each. Fryfogle also had his jersey pulled on a deep ball from Penix that went uncalled.
On the night, IU’s receivers brought in 13 of the team’s 17 completions for 225 yards. If IU wants to knock off Penn State or Michigan in the weeks to come, the receiving corps will have to continue this dominant play.