Indiana Football – Road to Glory


Pike Temple, Reporter

Especially this year, CFB fans were grateful for the opportunity to watch their favorite teams lace m’ up. While most believed that 2020 would go by without college football, the coaches and programs around the country have handled the Covid-19 situation fairly well; allowing the heads of the various conferences to decide to have a season after all. A shortened camp was a setback for most teams through the first few games of the season and matchups ended in unnaturally high scores as a result of poor tackling. However, most teams, only having a few weeks left in the season, have at this point, returned to the high-quality football the fans from the big-name programs are used to. 

But, of course, there were a few surprises this year, one of which being IU. Indiana University, now ranked 12th in the country, their highest ranking since 1987, is led by Coach Tom Allen, an Indiana native. After Allen claimed the head coaching position in December of 2016, IU Football has been on an upward trend. Coach Allen’s 18 wins over his first three seasons are the most of any prior IU coach over that span. Allen was also a semifinalist for the George Munger College Coach of the Year Award in 2019. This year, the Hoosiers are riding a never-saw-it-coming 5-1 season, with wins over Penn State, Rutgers, Michigan, Michigan State, and Maryland. Even though IU lost to Ohio State, the Hoosiers made it a tightly contested game, scoring a respectable 35 points to the Buckeyes’ 42. IU’s offensive and defensive ranks on the year are as follows: Avg. passing yards per game – 279.3 (28th), Avg rushing yards per game – 102.3 (118th), Avg. points scored per game – 32.8 (43rd), and Avg. points scored against – 21.7 (106th). While these rankings might not be as impressive as their national seed, the Hoosiers undoubtedly have playmakers on both sides of the football. 

Leading IU’s offense is sophomore QB Michael Penix Jr., a lefty out of Tampa, Florida. Some of Michael Penix Jr.’s more eye-catching stats on the year are his 14:4 TD to interception ratio and average QBR (Quarterback Rating) of 136.5. Although it was announced this past week that the gunslinging sophomore will not play the rest of the season due to an ACL tear, passing the baton to fellow sophomore Jack Tuttle, Penix Jr. has shown that he has what it takes to be CFB starting quarterback and has made a name for himself as one of the top QB prospects of the future. Some other popular names on the IU offense are running back Stevie Scott II (junior), leading the team in rushing yards, 405, with 8 rushing touchdowns, and star receiver Ty Fryfogle (senior). Fryfogle has also made a name for himself this season. Fryfogle leads the team in receiving yards, 652, and in yards per reception with an impressive 19.8 average. Boasting a stat line of 142 yards against Michigan, 200 against Michigan State, and 218 against Ohio State, Fryfogle has emerged as one of the best receivers in the BIG 10. Although the air raid offense gets a lot of attention, the defense cannot be overlooked. Micah McFadden (junior) leads the team in tackles, 43, and defensive backs Taiwan Mullen (sophomore), Jamar Johnson (junior), and Jaylin Williams (junior) lead the team in takeaways with 3 interceptions apiece. Some of the names mentioned above, as well as others not mentioned, have won BIG 10 offensive/defensive player(s) of the week this season, a few multiple times. The IU special teams have been recognized for these awards as well. 

Even though the Hoosiers leading passer, Michael Penix Jr., will be out the rest of the season, Indiana still has a chance to make a BIG 10 Championship appearance. Undoubtedly, The IU Football program is on the rise. The team is young, and a team led by Penix Jr. as well as Coach Allen has a promising future. On November 16, at a press conference during the week before the Ohio State game, Coach Allen stated, “I love this place, I love these kids, … We’re going to fight.” Coach Allen continued, saying, “I don’t care what anybody says about this stinkin’ game. We’re going to continue to compete, we’re going to fight because we’re going to find a way to keep proving everybody wrong.” Sure enough, that is what Indiana did against Ohio State, giving the No. 4 ranked team in the country a run for their money, claiming a spot as a BIG 10 Championship contender for the first time since 1967. Coach Allen has put everything into the football program and will continue to do so. Is this just the beginning? Is IU football back for good? Hoosier fans sure hope so. Saturday’s game against 16th ranked Wisconsin will be another decisive test towards determining the program’s legitimacy.