Sep 18, 2021; Bloomington, Indiana, USA; Indiana Hoosiers wide receiver D.J. Matthews Jr. (7) runs the ball into the end zone for a touchdown against Cincinnati Bearcats cornerback Arquon Bush (9) during the second half at Memorial Stadium. Bearcats won 38-24. Mandatory Credit: Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports

Desmond Ridder helps No. 8 Cincinnati topple Indiana

Demond Ridder connected with Alec Pierce on a 19-yard touchdown pass early in the fourth quarter to fuel No. 8 Cincinnati to a 38-24 win over Indiana on Saturday in Bloomington, Ind.

Ridder completed 20 of 36 passes for 210 yards and Jerome Ford added 66 yards rushing and two touchdowns for the Bearcats (3-0), who have won 12 of their last 13 games.

Ridder’s 7-yard touchdown run with 2:37 left sealed the win.

The Hoosiers (1-2) were done in by turnovers. Indiana turned it over four times, including twice in the red zone, with a fumble by running back Tim Baldwin Jr. at Cincinnati’s 2-yard line negating a potential go-ahead score midway through the fourth quarter.

Wide receiver D.J. Matthews sparked Indiana’s offense with five catches for 120 yards.

Indiana was dominant on defense early, cashing in on two Cincinnati turnovers to build an early 14-0 lead.

After Hoosiers defensive back Marcelino Ball intercepted a Ridder pass at midfield, Indiana scored on a 16-yard touchdown pass from Michael Penix to tight end Peyton Hendershot to take an early 7-0 lead.

Defensive end Ryder Anderson forced the Hoosiers’ second turnover of the second half, a strip sack recovered at the Cincinnati 7-yard line. Two plays later, Penix found Stephen Carr for a 5-yard touchdown pass.

Indiana had two more chances to score in the red zone in the first half, but Penix was stuffed on a fourth-and-1 from the Cincinnati 10-yard line. Penix also had a pass attempt in the end zone intercepted by defensive back Bryan Cook.

But Cincinnati regained momentum late in the first half when Indiana preseason All-American linebacker was ejected late in the second quarter for targeting.

The Bearcats put together a nine-play, 75-yard drive, cutting Indiana’s lead to 14-7 on 6-yard touchdown run by Jerome Ford with 1:33 left in the second half.

After Arquon Bush intercepted a Penix pass with 27 seconds left in the half, Cincinnati was able to drive into field goal range. Cole Smith connected on a 32-yard field goal with 3 seconds left in the first half, cutting Indiana’s lead to 14-10 at halftime.

Cincinnati took its first lead of the game, 17-14, on a 3-yard touchdown run by Ford. The Hoosiers answered with a five-play, 75-yard drive, with a Matthews 14-yard touchdown run on a reverse putting the Hoosiers back up 21-17.

Cincinnati’s Tre Tucker returned the ensuing kickoff 99 yards for a TD, but the Bearcats missed the extra point. Charles Campbell put Indiana back up 24-23 with a 49-yard field with 41 seconds left in the third quarter.

–Field Level Media

Sep 11, 2021; Cincinnati, Ohio, USA; Cincinnati Bearcats quarterback Desmond Ridder (9) throws a pass against the Murray State Racers in the first half at Nippert Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports

No. 8 Cincinnati to face Indiana after “some adversity”

Indiana expects another shot at a ranked opponent will yield better results and get its season back on track.

The Hoosiers (1-1) host No. 8 Cincinnati (2-0) on Saturday at Memorial Stadium, where Indiana has gone 8-2 since the start of the 2019 season.

Indiana faces its highest-ranked non-conference opponent since playing at home against No. 2 USC on Sept. 19, 1981.

After losing at No. 5 Iowa 34-6 to start the season, Indiana bounced back with a 56-14 victory in its home opener against Idaho. The Hoosiers scored two of their eight touchdowns on special teams — a blocked punt and 81-yard punt return for a touchdown by D.J. Matthews.

“You have an opportunity Week 1 (against Iowa), and we’re going to have many opportunities as you see the polls come out as the season unfolds to be able to play against top teams in the country,” Indiana football coach Tom Allen said. “And our schedule is full of them. And this is the next one.”

To seize that opportunity, Indiana will need a big game from quarterback Michael Penix Jr., who got back on track somewhat after throwing three interceptions in the Iowa loss. Penix completed 11-of-16 passes for 68 yards with two TDs passing and one TD rushing against Idaho before being pulled in the third quarter with the Hoosiers comfortably ahead.

“As far as progress from Week 1 to Week 2, I feel like we just executed better, executed at a (higher) level,” Penix said. “We just continued to play the full 60 minutes. We made sure that we didn’t let up.”

Cincinnati (2-0) is coming off a 42-7 win over Murray State. The Bearcats got off to a slow start offensively, with the game tied 7-all at halftime, before pulling away with 35 unanswered points in the second half.

“For us I think there’s nothing greater than having to handle some adversity,” Cincinnati coach Luke Fickell said. “In Week 1, we really didn’t have to handle any adversity, kind of came out and played the way we wanted to play, and the only way to grow up is to have some adversity.”

Quarterback Desmond Ridder has picked up where he left off last season, passing for 538 yards with six TDs and one interception in his first two games. Running back Jerome Ford has added 238 yards and four TDs on 7.8 yards per carry.

Speculation is swirling this week surrounding the status of Fickell, who has led Cincinnati to a 37-14 record and three straight bowl appearances entering his fifth season. Southern California coach Clay Helton was fired on Monday, and Mike Bohn, USC’s athletic director, hired Fickell when he was the athletic director at Cincinnati.

“I barely talk to my own family during the season,” Fickell said. “So I would never talk about it, nor would I even answer a phone call or anything like that. I know nothing, nor does it make me have any interest. It’s not a big deal. It’s nothing but distractions if people allow it to be, and for us, it can’t be.”

–Field Level Media

Sep 11, 2021; Bloomington, Indiana, USA; Indiana Hoosiers wide receiver D.J. Matthews Jr. (7) runs the ball to the end zone on a kickoff against the Idaho Vandals during the second quarter at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports

Indiana’s big-play defense overwhelms visiting Vandals

Stephen Carr rushed for 118 yards and 2 TDs and quarterback Michael Penix Jr. added two TD passes and one TD rushing, lifting Indiana to a 56-14 win over Idaho on Saturday night at Memorial Stadium.

The Hoosiers (1-1, 0-1 Big Ten) bounced back from a season-opening loss at Iowa by scoring six touchdowns on offense and two more on special teams. Carr, a transfer from USC, rushed for more than 100 yards for just the second time in his career and first time with the Hoosiers.

Penix completed 11 of 16 passes for just 68 yards before being pulled late in the third quarter with the Hoosiers up by 28 points. Backup quarterback Jack Tuttle entered in relief of Penix and threw a 76-yard TD pass to tight end A.J. Barner in the fourth quarter.

Indiana generated sustained drives on offense and made big plays on defense and special teams to build a 35-7 halftime lead. The Hoosiers scored their first TD of the game on an 18-play, 75-yard drive, capped by a 2-yard TD run from Carr.

Then, Indiana preseason All-American linebacker Micah McFadden recorded a strip sack that defensive tackle Weston Kramer recovered at Idaho’s 13-yard line. Two plays later, Penix connected with receiver Javon Swinton on a 9-yard TD pass, putting the Hoosiers up 14-0.

Indiana extended its lead to 21-0 before the end of the first quarter on a blocked punt by Noah Pierre that Swinton returned for a TD. It was Indiana’s first blocked punt for a TD since Sept. 27, 2003 against Michigan.

Penix connected on a 9-yard TD pass with receiver Ty Fryfogle to put Indiana up 28-0 with 3:39 left in the second quarter. Then, Indiana receiver D.J. Matthews recorded the second special teams TD of the game, returning a punt 81 yards for a TD to extend Indiana’s lead to 35-0 with 1:49 left in the half.

It marked the first time since Sept, 20, 1969 against Kentucky that Indiana scored two special teams touchdowns in a game.

Idaho (1-1) cut Indiana’s lead to 35-7 lead with a drive at the end of the first half, capped by a 16-yard TD pass from quarterback Mike Beaudry to receiver Hayden Hatten.

Indiana receiver Jacolby Hewitt returned the second half kickoff 72 yards down to the Idaho 28-yard line. Carr then rushed for 26 yards down to the Idaho two, setting up a 1-yard TD run by Penix that put Indiana up 42-7.

Beaudry connected with Hatten again on a 26-yard TD pass in the third quarter, cutting Indiana’s lead to 42-14. Hatten finished with 10 catches for 94 yards and 2 TDs

Iowa junior quarterback Spencer Petras dives into the end zone for a Hawkeyes touchdown in the second quarter against Indiana at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City on Saturday, Sept. 4, 2021.

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Riley Moss returns two INTs for scores as No. 18 Iowa routs No. 17 Indiana

Cornerback Riley Moss returned two interceptions for touchdowns and Tyler Goodson rushed for 99 yards and one score, lifting No. 18 Iowa to a 34-6 win over No. 17 Indiana on Saturday in Big Ten play at Iowa City.

The Hawkeyes (1-0, 1-0 Big Ten) jumped to a 31-3 halftime and rode their defense and run game the rest of the way. Iowa extended its streak of holding a team under 25 points to 23 straight games.

It was a rough season debut for Indiana quarterback Michael Penix Jr., who was flustered and pressured throughout the game.

Penix, coming off offseason surgery to repair a torn ACL suffered Nov. 28, 2020 against Maryland, completed 14 of 29 passes for 156 yards and threw three interceptions for Indiana (0-1, 0-1) before being replaced early in the fourth quarter.

Iowa starting quarterback Spencer Petras finished 13 of 27 for 145 yards and added a rushing touchdown.

Goodson gave Iowa a quick 7-0 lead, rushing 56 yards down the left sideline on Iowa’s opening offensive series. Then, on Indiana’s first offensive series, Penix threw behind wide receiver D.J. Matthews.
The ball caromed off Matthews’ hands and into the hands of Moss, who raced 30 yards for a touchdown, putting the Hawkeyes up 14-0.

Indiana cut Iowa’s lead to 14-3 late in the first quarter on a 36-yard field goal by Charles Campbell late in the first quarter. But Iowa was able to put together an eight-play, 48-yard scoring drive in the second quarter, converting on a fourth-and-2 play and going up 21-3 on a 9-yard touchdown run by Petras.

Two more Penix interceptions led to 10 more Iowa points before the end of the half.

Moss jumped a route on an out pattern from Penix that he returned 55 yards for a touchdown, putting Iowa up 28-3 with 1:41 left in the second quarter.

Then, Iowa safety Dane Belton intercepted a Penix pass at the Iowa 34-yard with 1:12 remaining. That set up Caleb Shudak’s 41-yard field goal, which put the Hawkeyes up 31-3 at halftime.

–Field Level Media

Jul 23, 2021; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; Indiana Hoosiers quarterback Michael Penix Jr. speaks to the media during Big 10 media days at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Goddin-USA TODAY Sports

No. 17 Indiana faces No. 18 Iowa in rare meeting as ranked teams

Two teams with Big Ten title aspirations will meet in a critical season opener when No. 17 Indiana plays at No. 18 Iowa on Saturday afternoon in Iowa City.

The Hawkeyes and Hoosiers each won six conference games during a shortened 2020 season. Iowa won its final six games of the 2020 season for its longest win streak in Big Ten play since 2015.

“I don’t know how good we’ll be this year, but I can say I really like our football team,” Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said. “I like the people on it. I like the way they have trained, the way they have worked going back to January, and the attitude that they have displayed on a really consistent basis.”

It’s just the second meeting between the two schools as AP Top 25 teams. The only other time both schools met while ranked, No. 10 Iowa beat No. 25 Indiana 38-21 at Kinnick Stadium during the 1991 season.

Offensively, the Hawkeyes are led by preseason first-team All-American center Tyler Linderbaum, running back Tyler Goodson and quarterback Spencer Petras. Goodson finished third in the Big Ten in rushing with 762 yards last season, while Petras, entering his second year as a starter, posted a touchdown-to-interception ratio of 8-2 during Iowa’s six-game win streak to close the 2020 season.

“Spencer wasn’t afforded the luxury of going through a spring practice as our starter or our normal preseason practice in the month of August,” Ferentz said. “So I thought he did remarkably well considering the obstacles that he had to overcome.”

On defense, Iowa returns its entire starting secondary on a defense that ranked third in the conference in interceptions last season with 11.

Indiana is coming off a breakthrough 2020 season under fifth-year coach Tom Allen, finishing 6-2 with its most Big Ten wins since 1987. The Hoosiers are ranked in the preseason Top 25 for the first time since 1969.

“The thing you learn is the full value of staying through the process, and how to get your team to perform,” Allen said. “It’s all about consistent performance and how you get that, whether it’s through high expectations, low expectations or everything in between.”

On offense, Indiana returns eight starters, including junior All-Big Ten quarterback Michael Penix Jr., who is back to 100 percent after rehabbing a torn ACL suffered on Nov. 28 against Maryland. Penix staying healthy will be one of the keys to the Hoosiers achieving greater heights this season. Indiana is 10-2 the last two seasons when Penix starts at quarterback and 4-5 when other QBs start under center.

“As far as the trust level, I trust my knee, I trust that everything is OK,” Penix said. “The trainers have been doing a great job getting me back on the field, and I’m 100 percent confident that I’m going to have a great season this year.”

On defense, Indiana will bring back eight starters as well, including a pair of preseason second-team All-Americans, linebacker Micah McFadden and cornerback Tiawan Mullen. The Hoosiers led the Big Ten in interceptions (17) and sacks (25) last year. IU’s defense will be playing under a new coordinator this year, former Georgia defensive backs coach Charlton Warren, after former defensive coordinator Kane Wommack left to take over the head coaching job at South Alabama.

“Our DNA on defense, it starts with takeaways,” Warren said. “Coach Allen has preached that when he was a coordinator here, and that’s something we focus on every single day in practice.”

–Field Level Media

Dec 5, 2020; Madison, Wisconsin, USA;  Indiana Hoosiers quarterback Jack Tuttle (14) is tackled with the football during the second quarter against the Wisconsin Badgers at Camp Randall Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Tuttle, defense lift No. 12 Indiana past No. 16 Wisconsin

Jack Tuttle passed for two touchdowns in his first career start, and No. 12 Indiana’s defense made a late stand to hold on for a 14-6 win over the No. 16 Wisconsin on Saturday.

The Hoosiers (6-1) snapped a 10-game losing streak to Wisconsin, dating back to Oct. 12, 2002. Indiana also improved to 3-1 on the season against ranked teams.

Wisconsin (2-2) drove to Indiana’s 17-yard line with under two minutes remaining, but Micah McFadden came up with a sack on second down. The Hoosiers forced Wisconsin quarterback Graham Metz to throw incompletions on third and fourth down, with Indiana defensive back Reese Taylor coming up with a pass defense in the end zone on fourth down to close out the game.

Metz completed 20 of 34 passes for 202 yards with one interception for the Badgers, while Jalen Berger finished with 87 yards rushing. Wisconsin outgained Indiana 342-217, but came away with just six points in three trips to the red zone.

With Indiana starting quarterback Michael Penix Jr. out for the season with a torn ACL, Tuttle was called upon to lead the offense on the road against a ranked opponent. He played composed throughout the game, with his lone mistake coming when he lost a fumble on a quarterback sneak.

Tuttle led Indiana on a 12-play, 81-yard touchdown drive to start the second half. The series included a 35-yard connection to Ty Fryfogle and a 7-yard touchdown pass to Whop Philyor, putting Indiana up 14-3 in the third quarter.

Indiana cashed in on an early turnover after Tiawan Mullen forced a fumble that James Miller recovered at the Hoosiers’ 47-yard line. Tuttle led Indiana on a 12-play, 53-yard drive that was capped by his first career TD pass, a 1-yard pass to tight end Peyton Hendershot to put the Hoosiers up 7-0.

Wisconsin answered with a 12-play, 81-yard drive that ended with a Collin Larsh 29-yard field goal to cut Indiana’s lead to 7-3 with 4:04 remaining in the second quarter.

Indiana’s defense limited Wisconsin to 136 yards in the first half on 4.4 yards per play.

–Field Level Media