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Rutgers delivers spirited effort in 38-3 rout of Indiana

The Scarlet Knights improve to 5-5 on the season and bowl eligibility in sight.

NCAA Football: Rutgers at Indiana Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports

Rutgers went to Bloomington, a place they lost a combined 76-0 in their last two games against Indiana, and handed the Hoosiers their seventh straight loss in Big Ten play. The Scarlet Knights profited off of six Indiana turnovers and didn’t commit any of their own. It resulted in a resounding 38-3 victory that puts Rutgers at 5-5 on the season and 2-5 in Big Ten play.

Entering this game averaging just 11.5 points in six Big Ten contests, Rutgers came out of the gates strong and held a 14-0 lead with over three minutes still remaining in the first quarter. Establishing the run has been a struggle at times this season, but the offense did a tremendous job getting the ground game going on Saturday.

Indiana fumbled on the first play from scrimmage and Rutgers took advantage.

Isaih Pacheco was running hard and the offensive line was effective. Pacheco ran for both touchdowns and had 55 yards on 9 carries in the opening frame.

Noah Vedral also was sharp in completing his all four passes on the two scoring drives.

After Valentino Ambrosio kicked a 38 yard field goal resulting from an interception from Indiana, Rutgers led 17-0 less than a minute into the second quarter.

Rutgers then got conservative offensively and despite four turnovers in the first half by Indiana, they only scored 10 points off of them. The Hoosiers kicked a 47 yard field goal to cut the lead to 17-3 at halftime. It was a strange half as Indiana had 161-138 edge in total yards and zero penalties. However, Rutgers was clearly in control after its strong start and to their credit, limiting mistakes.

The Scarlet Knights went three and out on its first possession to start the second half. However, the story of the game was turnovers by Indiana as they fumbled the punt. Rutgers took advantage immediately as Aaron Young ran it in from 10 yards out. With a 24-3 lead less than three minutes into the second half, RU was in complete control once again.

The Rutgers defense continued to hold up strong against the Indiana offense throughout the third quarter. The offense rewarded them with its fourth touchdown of the day as Noah Vedral found Raiqwon O’Neal for a 7 yard touchdown. It was reviewed by was clearly a legal play as the left tackle scores the second touchdown of his career.

Noah Vedral played with his usual toughness and ran in a 8 yard touchdown late in the game to make the final score was 38-3.

Rutgers rushed for 212 yards on 4.4 yards per carry and held IU to just 85 yards on only 2.7 yards per carry. They also held Indiana to just 1 of 14 on third down conversions.

Pacheco led the way with 79 yards rushing on 21 carries and Bo Melton led all receivers with 5 catches for 50 yards.

It was an impressive and inspiring defensive performance. Playing without all three starting linebackers, Olakunle Fatukasi, Tyshon Fogg and Tyreek Maddox-Williams all missed the game due to injury, and playing as well as they did was very encouraging. Yes, Indiana struggled mightily and turned it over six times. However, the defense stepped up and had a big part in that happening. They played with great energy and held the Hoosiers at bay the entire game. It was the first Big Ten game that Rutgers didn’t allow a touchdown by an opponent and the fewest points allowed as well. Incredible effort especially considering all of the injuries.

Credit the offense for taking advantage of opportunities and playing mistake free football.

This team delivered a huge performance in the face of adversity and are now one game away from being bowl eligible for the first time since 2014. It’s been an up and down season, but being in this position with two games to go is true progress.

The coaching staff deserves a ton of credit for having this team ready to play today. This game was for the taking against winless Indiana in conference play and they took it. The Scarlet Knights have now won 2 of 3 since the bye week and picked themselves up off the ground after last week’s embarrassing loss to Wisconsin. The character development of this team is a positive sign that head coach Greg Schiano is building a winning culture within the program.

Rutgers will head to Happy Valley to play Penn State next Saturday at noon with a chance to earn a season defining victory.