When Indiana beat Missouri Saturday in Columbia, 31-27, it was the Hoosiers first defeat of a ranked opponent since 2006. The bigger picture for the Hoosiers after knocking off the defending SEC East champion and nation’s No. 18 team is the new milestone they’ve reached under head coach Kevin Wilson.
Before the 2011 campaign, Wilson’s first season at Indiana following a successful tenure as Oklahoma’s offensive coordinator, he made an appearance on the short-lived Fox Sports Radio show “Zakk and Jack.”
Co-host and former Illinois quarterback Jack Trudeau took a few needless jabs at Indiana football before Wilson’s segment began, which prompted a predictably salty reaction from the coach.
Although Wilson was justified taking offense to the host’s unprovoked insults, he could only change the commonplace perception of Hoosiers football with wins. In 2011, his team won just once.
In the seasons since, the Hoosiers have made strides. But it’s not enough to spare the program shots from the media.
— Tyler Waddell (@Tyler_Waddell) September 20, 2014
Each season since Wilson’s first, IU has shown glimpses of offensive firepower Wilson’s Oklahoma units featured. That explosiveness was on display at times Saturday when Indiana beat Missouri, particularly in running back Tevin Coleman averaging nearly seven yards per carry for 132 on the day–none bigger than these 44 to set up the game-winning score.
Tevin Coleman huge 44 yard run https://t.co/mZvU2zUyl8
— gifdsports(@gifdsports) September 20, 2014
Coleman remains the nation’s leading rusher.
Quarterback Nate Sudfeld winged a 33-yard scoring strike to J-Shun Harris in the third quarter after a long Coleman run, the perfect left hook to follow up the straight jab.
Yet, scoring points hasn’t been a problem for Indiana since Wilson’s arrival; preventing them, on the other hand?
Defensive ineptitude kept Indiana out of its first bowl game since 2007 last year, and last week’s Hoosiers loss to Bowling Green was a case of deja vu. They surrendered 45 points to the Falcons and were powerless to stop the clinching, 88-yard drive.
Against a typically dangerous Gary Pinkel offense Saturday in Columbia, Indiana seemingly turned over a new leaf. Mizzou got its yardage–quarterback Maty Mauk passed for more than 300 yards and running back Russell Hansbrough averaged more than 10 yards per carry–but Indiana won in a class demonstration of “bend but don’t break.”
The Hoosiers held the Tigers two touchdowns below their season average of 41.7 points per game and their much-maligned defensive line won several key battles up front. Mauk was sacked three times on the day.
Indiana scored a major victory for the oft-criticized Big Ten, planting the conference’s flag in SEC Country against a reigning divisional champion. But more importantly for Kevin Wilson and his program, it has a cornerstone victory on which to build to the next level.
This is the second truly milestone win for Indiana in the last two seasons: In 2013, it beat Penn State for the first time. The Hoosiers are making undeniable progress, but it’s paramount they build from it.
The next two weeks are crucial to Indiana’s bowl aspirations. Next week, Indiana hosts Maryland, which scored its own impressive nonconference win on the road Saturday.
In Week 6, North Texas comes to Bloomington. The Mean Green beat Indiana in Wilson’s first season, arguably the low point of the coach’s initial campaign.
A pair of wins in the next two homes games would have Indiana halfway to bowl eligibility with two-thirds of its schedule remaining. And if the Indiana that beat Missouri shows up for the remainder of the Hoosiers’ schedule, there could be plenty more milestones ahead this season.