MADISON, Wisc. — The first December football game in a long time for Indiana lived up to the hype.
In an intense, back-and-forth, cold weather Big Ten slobberknocker, No. 10 Indiana (6-1) found a way to knock off No. 18 Wisconsin (2-2), 14-6, for the Hoosiers’ first win in the series since 2002. IU hadn’t won in Camp Randall since the previous season, 2001. The victory snapped a ten-game skid against Wisconsin.
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The game started with both teams figuring each other out on both sides of the ball. IU and Wisconsin had played each other just once in the last seven years, a 45-17 Wisconsin win in Bloomington in 2017. Both teams punted on their first two drives.
The first big play came on a Tiawan Mullen sack of Wisconsin QB Graham Mertz, which jarred the ball loose. LB James Miller recovered to set up IU around midfield. On the ensuing drive, Indiana QB Jack Tuttle, making his first career start due to Michael Penix Jr.’s season-ending ACL injury, pushed the ball steadily down the field, punctuating the possession with a one-yard TD to Peyton Hendershot.
Tuttle had an above average first start as IU’s quarterback. After two incompletions to start the game, he hit on eight of his next ten, including the touchdown to Hendershot. He hung in there under some heavy pressure as well. Wisconsin was credited with a sack and three QB hits on the day, while also picking up a roughing the passer call. There were multiple other close calls where Wisconsin hit Tuttle, but no flags came on the play. He received medical assistance and went to the locker room briefly in the second half after taking a hit to the helmet area while sliding, but dramatically sprinted back onto the field before IU’s drive with 8:58 remaining. He didn’t miss a play. Tuttle finished 13-of-22 for 130 yards passing and two TD. He didn’t throw any interceptions, but he did fumble the ball on a second-half QB sneak.
Neither team could move the ball all that effectively. At halftime, Wisconsin had just 136 yards to IU’s 107. At the break, Mertz was 7-for-12 for just 70 yards, while Tuttle was 8-14 for 71 yards and the TD. The Badgers, who are notorious for their ability to run the ball, were shut down by IU’s run defense to just 66 on the ground in the first half, and 140 overall. Wisconsin had rushed for 220 yards per game before Saturday.
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After the break, while the defenses still dominated, IU tallied a touchdown on the opening drive of the second half. Tuttle hit Whop Philyor for a seven-yard score, capping off a seven-play, 75-yard drive. That gave the Hoosiers a 14-3 lead. Philyor finished the day as IU’s leading receiver, with four catches, 47 yards, and the TD.
Two big moments in the fourth quarter stood out in Indiana’s win. With the score at 14-6, the Hoosiers could have created some real distance between themselves and the Badgers had Miles Marshall brought down a Tuttle deep ball in the opening minutes of the quarter. Marshall did his job early on the play, getting behind the Badgers defense, and Tuttle made the throw, but perhaps being so open spooked Marshall into dropping the pass.
On the final drive of the game, the Hoosiers kept Wisconsin out of the end zone, finishing off the game without giving up a TD all contest. IU has given up just one TD in their last three wins, a desperation heave by Maryland at the end of IU’s 27-11 victory last week. Wisconsin’s drive started at their own eight-yard line, with 4:48 to go, after a wonderful punt from Haydon Whitehead. The Badgers, who had all three timeouts, used up 14 plays to drive the ball down the field. More importantly, they used up almost the entire time remaining. The last-gasp effort for Wisconsin was a 4th-and-10 pass from Mertz to WR Chimere Dike, but junior CB Reese Taylor was on the coverage to force the incompletion.
Up next: No. 10 Indiana returns home to play rival Purdue in the Old Oaken Bucket Game on Dec. 12. The Boilermakers (2-4) are on a four-game losing streak. On Saturday, they fell 37-27 to Nebraska in West Lafayette. Time and TV have not been released yet for next week’s game. Last year, IU beat Purdue 44-41 in 2OT to regain the Bucket.
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