Rutgers went to Bloomington in hopes of spoiling Indiana’s Homecoming, but instead were the toast of the party. After fumbling the first play from scrimmage, leading to the Hoosiers recovering it and waltzing in for a touchdown, it was clear another long day within a lost season was upon us. Soon after, Indiana scored a touchdown on their first two drives of the day after Rutgers punts and the score was 21-0 less than seven minutes into the game.
While the Scarlet Knights didn’t quit, as they didn’t surrender any more points until the first Hoosier drive of the second half, the reality this program is so far behind a team that is likely to finish no better than fifth in their own division. It’s a sobering fact that should rightfully have Rutgers fans on edge.
Indiana (4-2; 1-2) did commit two turnovers in the first half, but the offense was futile once again, failing to capitalize and ultimately shutout for the tenth time since 2016.
I won’t torture you with details of the game, but looking at the stats will give you all the nightmares any fan can bear. Indiana had 25 first downs and 557 yards of total offense, including a 6.8 yards per carry average. On the other hand, Rutgers gained just 75 yards of total offense, including just 1 passing yard on 5 completions. They rushed for the rest, but averaged only 2.2 yards per carry. RU was 0-11 on third down conversions.
The positives? Well, Rutgers didn’t commit any turnovers after that first play from scrimmage and held a +1 turnover margin on the day. They also had a season low 4 penalties, committing three less than Indiana. The defense did stop Indiana on both of their fourth down conversion attempts. In regard to personnel, true freshman Aaron Young ran for 29 yards on 5 carries for 5.8 yards per attempt. Also, Rutgers lost by a wider margin the last time they visited Indiana with Chris Ash’s best team, so there is that.
Since you are probably wondering, Isaih Pacheco had just 44 yards on 14 carries for 3.1 yards per attempt, but had little room to run through most of the game. He did have a 28 yard gain, but did little else. Johnny Langan had a rushing gain of 32 yards on one play, but finished with just 3 yards on 13 carries.
As bad as the Rutgers offense has been, it still boggles my mind how bad the defense has performed this season. They certainly have been placed in some tough spots, but surrendering almost 600 yards of offense to anyone, let alone Indiana, is abysmal and inexcusable. Andy Buh has been awful as defensive coordinator and despite his absence, how Chris Ash built this unit so poorly is truly amazing.
With the season only halfway complete and Rutgers (1-5; 0-4) without it’s two best offensive players in QB Artur Sitkowski and running back Raheem Blackshear, who decided to redshirt, it seems unlikely the offense will make any progress or have any hope of scoring enough to win a game the rest of the season. Perhaps facing Liberty in two weeks gives them an opportunity to produce enough points to win, but it’s fair to be pessimistic even in that game.
The fact is interim head coach Nunzio Campanile has been put in an impossible situation and the season is lost and devoid of hope. You have to feel for the players too, who continue to battle, but clearly don’t have enough to compete even against the lower echelon teams in the Big Ten.
We knew the rest of the season would be focused on the future of this program and the search for the next head coach, but athletic director Pat Hobbs has a major problem on his hands. Weekly drubbings make the situation difficult to take for a suffering fan base and while he did us a solid dispatching head coach Chris Ash before things truly became unruly, it’s fair to place blame on his shoulders for this disaster of a season as well. It’s his job to fix this mess and whoever he hires, it’s certainly going to be a difficult task to rebuild this program quickly. But that’s where we are now and hopefully Hobbs can right this ship that is rudderless at the moment. As for the six Saturday’s remaining this season, it’s going to be difficult to find anything to cheer about.