2016 season review: A lot to celebrate for bowl-bound Indiana

2016 season review: A lot to celebrate for bowl-bound Indiana

Indiana took a big step forward as a program in 2016, as it’s headed to a bowl for a second season in a row. That hasn’t happened in Bloomington since 1990-91, when Bill Mallory was leading Indiana.

But the Hoosiers suffered a jolt when Kevin Wilson abruptly resigned at the end of the season over a difference in philosophies with the administration. A.D. Fred Glass wasted no time in appointing defensive coordinator Tom Allen the full-time head coach. He did a great job in his first season at IU, giving the defense some teeth. But he’s never been a head coach.

Still, there is a lot to celebrate this season in Bloomington, as Indiana has the Old Brass Spittoon from Michigan State and the Old Oaken Bucket from Purdue, which it has beaten the last four seasons. The Hoosiers haven’t toppled the Boilermakers four years in succession since 1944-47. The last time IU had the Spittoon and Bucket at the same time? It was 2001.

***

Record: 6-6 overall; 4-5 Big Ten/4th Big Ten East
Bowl: Foster Farms vs. Utah

High point: Coming off a tough home loss to Wake Forest, Indiana rebounded with a 24-21 OT win vs. No. 17 Michigan State on Oct. 1. After MSU’s Michael Geiger missed a 49-yard field goal—a long attempt set up by two Hoosier sacks–in its OT possession, IU’s Griffin Oakes botched his attempt, too, his third miss of the game. But he got a reprieve when MSU was whistled for a leaping penalty. This time, Oakes didn’t miss, nailing a 20-yarder to win it. It was just the Hoosiers’ second win in their last 26 games vs. a ranked foe. And it gave Indiana possession of the Old Brass Spittoon for the first time since 2006.

Low point: Indiana got off to 2-0 start, dumping Florida International and Ball State. But the Hoosiers wouldn’t reach 3-0, as they lost at home to Wake Forest, 33-28, on Sept. 24. IU QB Richard Lagow tossed five interceptions and the Hoosiers had a field goal blocked. It was all too much to overcome vs. a Demon Deacons squad that would go on to finish 6-6.

Offensive MVP: OL Dan Feeney. The Indiana offense wasn’t as lethal as it had been in previous seasons with Nate Sudfeld under center, but it was still a strong unit despite breaking in a new QB, Richard Lagow, who tossed 16 interceptions. Feeney was the star of the offense, to the point he earned AP All-America first-team honors for the second consecutive season, just the third Hoosier to do so in program history. Also need to mention WRs Mitchell Paige and Nick Westbrook and RB Devine Redding.

Defensive MVP: LB Tegray Scales. A second-team All-Big Ten pick by the media, Scales leads a reinvigorated IU defense that also stars CB Rashard Fant, S Marcelino Ball, LB Marcus Oliver and T Ralph Green. The 6-0, 230-pound junior paces the Big Ten in tackles, averaging 9.7 with 116 on the season. Scales also leads the league in TFLs with 20.5.

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Tom Dienhart, BTN.com Senior Writer

About Tom Dienhart: BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart is a veteran sports journalist who covers Big Ten football and men's basketball for BTN.com and BTN TV. Find him on Twitter and Facebook, and send him questions to his weekly mailbag.

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