This season started with so much hope and optimism. Mercifully, after demoralizing loss after demoralizing loss, it’s all over.
At Ross-Ade Stadium on Saturday, Indiana (2-10, 0-9 B1G) fell to Purdue (8-4, 6-3 B1G) 44-7. The Boilermakers regained control of the Bucket for the first time since 2018. Purdue is now 61-32-3 in the all-time trophy series. Tom Allen’s record at IU now reads 26-32, 15-28 in B1G play, and 1-3 against Purdue.
The teams exchanged touchdowns in an entertaining start to the game. IU won the toss and deferred, and Purdue’s offense, led by the Big Ten’s second-most efficient passer, Aidan O’Connell, moved methodically down the field. O’Connell went 6-7 for 55 yards, and after Jaylin Williams committed pass interference on a Zander Horvath 4th down halfback pass into the end zone, Horvath found the end zone. It was his 8th career score.
Walk-on Grant Gremel (Zionsville HS) got his first career start at QB for Indiana, and like we’ve seen previously with OC Nick Sheridan and the IU offense, the opening drive looked encouraging. Gremel distributed the ball to five different receivers. Ty Fryfogle, Davion Ervin-Poindexter, Miles Marshall, AJ Barner, and Peyton Hendershot all grabbed receptions as IU moved inside the Purdue 5. On first-and-goal from the 2, Donaven McCulley powered into the end zone to tie things up.
A critical moment came early in the second. Williams looked like he made one of his patented big plays, reading an O’Connell throw and seemingly taking it over 60 yards to the house. However, the interception was nullified because of a Raheem Layne pass interference. On the next play, O’Connell connected with a backup tight end, and Purdue gained a lead they would never relinquish.
As Hoosier fans have seen far too much this season, IU’s offense never regained the production it displayed on its first drive. Purdue sacked Gremel three times before intermission, including one from future NFLer George Karlaftis. IU punted twice to start the second, and Purdue tacked on a field goal.
Gremel and the IU offense found some traction on a drive at the end of the first half. He completed a 21-yard pass to Hendershot on 3rd-and-17, a play in which Hendershot did most of the work to move the chains. Fryfogle drew a pass interference to put IU in field goal range, but then 2021 Indiana Football reared its ugly head.
An errant snap forced Gremel to scramble all the way back to midfield, thwarting any chance of an IU touchdown. Gremel found Miles Marshall to get the Hoosiers into field goal range. The stage was set for Charles Campbell, but his kick hooked wide left and IU got nothing out of a positive drive.
If there was any hope that IU would find some second half magic, those ideas were vanquished quickly.
After an IU three-and-out, O’Connell spread the ball to his stars, Milton Wright, Horvath, and David Bell, before unleashing a gorgeous throw to Jackson Anthrop for a 21-yard TD. 24-7 isn’t an insurmountable lead in college football in 2021, but against this year’s Hoosiers, that was enough.
Bell and Dylan Downing found the end zone in the fourth quarter to seal the deal. David Holloman, Charlie Spegal, and Chris Childers were among the seldom-used Hoosiers that saw some extra playing time today out of the backfield. Stephen Carr did not dress; his last carry of the season, and possibly his career, came at Michigan. Spegal, a walk-on from New Palestine, led IU with nine carries on the day.
First, AD Scott Dolson and Allen will discuss improvements to Indiana’s staff, as well as dipping into the transfer portal to add pieces that can make an immediate impact. Certainly, some players will enter the NFL Draft, and others, like Jacolby Hewitt, CJ Person, and DK Bonhomme already have, will put their name into the portal.
Incoming freshmen will make a difference as well. Led by LB Dasan McCullough, DB Trevell Mullen, RB Gi’Bran Payne, WR Omar Cooper Jr., OL Demon Moore, and others, Indiana’s 2022 recruiting class rates 27th in the country and 6th in the Big Ten.
Lastly, the 2022 football schedule has a much easier start than the 2021 edition. The Hoosiers have three home games to get the ball rolling, all of which they will likely be favored. By Saturday night, September 17, 2022, IU may already have surpassed their win total from 2021.
Photo by Purdue Athletics