Indiana earns bowl eligibility with 26-24 win over Purdue
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Coach Kevin Wilson tried to temper Indiana's postgame party.
Everybody else in Bloomington wanted to celebrate the milestone win.
After enduring a series of coaching changes along with progressions and regressions over the past 25 years, the Hoosiers finally took a big step forward Saturday with a 26-24 come-from-behind victory over Purdue to claim their fourth consecutive Old Oaken Bucket and their second straight bowl trip.
To Wilson, the feats were only part of what made this one special.
“All we talked about was the simplicity of the game,” he said. “But to give those guys (seniors) one more month, that's really cool because you get to spend more time together. To me, it was more about you just wanted more time with them than the historical deal. I think we're trying to create our own history and trying to grow.”
Indiana (6-6, 4-5) tied the school record for most consecutive wins (four) in a series that dates to 1891. The only other time it happened was from 1944-47.
The Hoosiers also earned their first back-to-back bowl bids since 1990 and 1991 and won four conference games for the first time since 2001.
All it took Saturday was a one-yard touchdown plunge from Devine Redding with 4:59 to go, two forced turnovers in the final 66 seconds and the addition of one more bronze block “I” added to the chain that fits neatly inside the prized trophy.
And in a season full of drama, it was a fitting way for the Hoosiers to snap a two-game losing streak and earn their elusive sixth victory.
The Boilermakers (3-9, 1-8) certainly had some chances to end their losing streak at six.
They scored the first touchdown of the day, would have tied the score at halftime if not for a missed extra point, took a 22-17 lead with a 31-yard TD pass from David Blough to DeAngelo Yancey to open the third quarter before missing the two-point conversion attempt.
Then it all unraveled.
Indiana closed to 22-20 on a 46-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter and retook the lead on Redding's go-ahead score.
Purdue's final possession ended when Jonathan Crawford picked off Blough in the end zone on fourth and 14 from the Hoosiers' 27-yard line.
“There was no doubt in my mind we were going to punch it in,” Blough said. “The last play, I just tried to give him a chance and it didn't go our way.”
Though the Hoosiers failed to run out the clock on the next possession, they took a safety with 1 second left rather than punt, and Crawford hauled in the first lateral on the ensuing free kick to seal it.
Purdue: After missing the postseason for the third straight season, the Boilermakers face some major offseason upheaval. Parker and most or all of the coaching staff are not expected to return. And until a new coach is in place, it's impossible to know what direction Purdue will go.
Indiana: A historic win will give the Hoosiers some extra practice time — and one more game this season.
Redding ran 24 times for 99 yards, becoming the first Indiana player since Vaughn Dunbar to top the 1,000-yard mark in two straight seasons. Redding has 1,050 yards with one to play.
Yancey had six catches for 78 yards and his first career interception in his final college game. Linebacker Markus Bailey picked off two passes. The Boilermakers ran 34 times for 42 yards and got a one-yard TD run from Markell Jones to open the scoring. Blough was 24 of 45 for 225 yards with two TDs and two interceptions.
Indiana and Purdue started the day with a combined turnover margin of minus-24, so a flurry of miscues should have been expected. Purdue picked off four passes, threw two and lost a fumble. Indiana's Crawford and Purdue's Bailey each had interceptions and both kickers missed an extra point.
Purdue: Announcing a new coach. The Boilermakers have had six weeks to search for a new coach, but it's unclear how close new athletic director Mike Bobinski is to naming one.
Indiana: Will eagerly await the official bowl announcements Dec. 4, even though the Hoosiers should have some idea of where they'll be going long before that date.