A week ago, Indiana running back Tevin Coleman begrudgingly spoke to the media after his late gaffe cost the Hoosiers in a loss to Minnesota.
On Saturday, he atoned by spearheading a record performance in the Hoosiers’ 52-35 win over Illinois.
Coleman ran for a career-high 215 yards as the Hoosiers set a Memorial Stadium record with 650 yards of total offense. Stephen Houston added 151 yards on the ground as the Hoosiers ran for 371 as a team.
The total yardage mark tied IU’s school record, set at Kentucky in 1994.
Coleman didn’t get a chance to bask in the spotlight, though, as an ankle sprain sent him to the bench midway through the fourth quarter. He still had IU’s first 200-yard rushing game since BenJarvus Green-Ellis in 2003.
“I was going into the fourth quarter thinking I have to make good decisions and I handed it off every single time, so that was pretty nice,” said IU quarterback Nate Sudfeld, whose hurried toss to Coleman on an attempted swing pass ended in a fumble last week in a loss to Minnesota. “Him and Steve are big time. They’re such good teammates too, it’s fun to play with them.”
The Hoosiers (4-5, 2-3 Big Ten) threw just one pass in the fourth quarter but still had a big day in the passing game. Cody Latimer set career highs in receptions (11) and yards (189) and tied a career-high with three touchdown catches.
“They were trying to man us up on the outside, so we lined up and took some deep shots,” Latimer said.
“Defensively, we gave up too many big plays, of course,” said Illinois coach Tim Beckman. “It got down to a scoring battle. We just fell short in that scoring battle.”
Indeed, the Illini (3-6, 0-5) matched the Hoosiers score for score into the fourth quarter. Illinois tied the game at 35-35 when offensive lineman Corey Lewis recovered a fumble by running back Josh Ferguson in the end zone.
But after the ensuing kickoff, a touchback, Coleman took a handoff from Sudfeld and sprinted 75 yards for the go-ahead score. The Illini attempted a fake punt at their own 37 on the next drive, but Justin DuVernois’ pass bounced short of his intended receiver.
Two Houston runs later, the Hoosiers were ahead 49-35 and ultimately sent Illinois to its 19th straight conference loss.
“It’s something we worked on and heck, if it would’ve worked we would all be smiling now,” Beckman said of the fake punt. “You just have to make those plays, and of course, I’ll take the fault for it.”
Indiana’s offensive outburst came despite a reshuffled offensive line. With Collin Rahrig bothered by a back injury, Wes Rogers made his first career start at center.
“Our line has improved even though we are working with a lot of injuries,” Indiana coach Kevin Wilson said. “I think that says a lot about our depth. … That’s where we’re lacking on defense.”
Indiana’s defense allowed 612 yards to the Illini, including a career-high 450 yards passing from Nathan Scheelhaase.
“We show flashes of nice stops and good plays, but we need to get more consistent [on defense],” Wilson said.