Every Saturday during the Big Ten football season, BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart watches all the action and offers his Snap Reactions. See Dienhart’s immediate thoughts from Northwestern and Indiana’s wins over Iowa and Illinois, respectively, in this post.
Nate Sudfeld came off Indiana’s bench to throw for two touchdowns, and the Hoosiers defense had seven sacks and a pair of key turnovers in a 31-17 win at Illinois on Saturday. The win ended a five-game losing streak for the Hoosiers (3-5, 1-3 Big Ten) that included tight losses to Ohio State, Navy and Michigan State. It also ended an 11-game Big Ten drought that dated to 2010.
Illinois’ Donovonn Young led the offense in the third quarter. He ran for 36 yards and caught one pass for 12 yards, but the margin is still seven, as the Fighting Illini trail 24-17. Indiana added to its advantage when Mitch Ewald drilled a 28-yard field goal, the final play on a four-play, nine-yard drive to give the Hoosiers the lead, 24-14. A fumble recovery by Indiana put the Hoosiers at Illinois’ 20-yard line to open the drive.
Indiana’s Stephen Houston led the offense in the second quarter. He ran for 14 yards and one touchdown and caught a 10-yard touchdown pass, and the Hoosiers now lead 21-14. The two touchdowns give Houston three scores, tying a career-high. Illinois has given up 14 straight points.
Illinois’ Nathan Scheelhaase threw for 51 yards and one touchdown and ran for 31 yards in the quarter, and the two teams are tied 7-7 at the end of the first. Indiana tied things up at seven when an eight-play, 75-yard drive ended after Stephen Houston pounded in a two-yard touchdown run.
Indiana plays at Illinois while Purdue travels to Minnesota and both games air on BTN/BTN2Go this Saturday. Our editors dove into our online archive of football games featuring these same two matchups and found some great old games, including the 2001 game when the Boilermakers and Gophers took it to overtime.
In my preview of this Saturday’s six games, I believe most teams will play with a real sense of urgency. Nebraska and Michigan are two good examples, but Ohio State and Penn State each have something to prove, too. Michigan State and Wisconsin have a history, Iowa leads Northwestern in the standings, and Purdue, Minnesota, Indiana and Illinois each seek their first conference win.