COLLEGE PARK, MD – Indiana couldn’t have scripted a more tumultuous start than the opening 10 minutes of its 47-28 win against Maryland on Saturday. But that doesn’t mean the Hoosiers weren’t prepared for it.
Hours before kickoff in the team hotel, head coach Kevin Wilson reminded his team whether they were up 28-3 or down 21-3 like they were not even 10 minutes into Saturday’s win, the Hoosiers needed to keep playing. They couldn’t afford to get complacent or rattled.
“I would have preferred the other choice of being 28-3,” Wilson deadpanned. “I guess they took the other advice.”
Wilson could joke postgame, but Maryland’s early domination wasn’t drawing any laughs on the sidelines. The Terrapins (2-9, 0-7) jumped out to a 21-3 advantage in the game’s first 9:28 before the Hoosiers (5-6, 1-6) closed the reminder of the game on a 44-7 run.
“It was nice to weather the storm because it could have went south,” Wilson said. “I think this still shows we’ve got a great group of guys that believe.”
Indiana’s 18-point comeback began with a 77-yard touchdown drive, capped by a 19-yard touchdown pass from senior quarterback Nate Sudfeld to redshirt junior receiver Mitchell Paige. After forcing a Maryland punt, the Hoosiers needed just three plays on their next possession for Sudfeld to find senior receiver Andre Booker for a 59-yard score to pull within four points.
Wilson then elected to gamble with an onside kick that neither Maryland nor some of IU’s own players expected. After the Hoosiers recovered, they drove 51 yards and scored on Sudfeld’s 1-yard quarterback sneak.
In a matter of only six minutes of gameplay, Indiana went from down 18 to leading 24-21.
“I actually had no idea (the onside kick) was coming,” Paige said. “We had just scored, so I was over there talking and we were discussing what we were going to do on the next drive.'”
Paige’s opening touchdown was the first of Indiana’s seven scores on eight possessions to take a 44-28 lead, with the lone non-scoring drive coming when the Hoosiers elected to take a knee and run out the clock to end the first half.
While the offense found its rhythm, the defense pieced together one of its best stretches of the season, holding Maryland to just seven points over the final 50:32 after allowing three quick touchdowns in the game’s opening minutes.
“What happened in three quarters was the best team football we’ve played all year,” Wilson said.
Sudfeld completed 23-of-35 passing for 385 yards and four touchdowns in what was one of his most efficient games of the season.
Sophomore running back Devine Redding filled in nicely for normal starter Jordan Howard, who was limited to just three carries with a knee injury. Five different IU running backs combined for 176 yards on 40 carries.
“It was just like normal,” Redding said. “As coach always says, the next guy has to step up. Our defense was pretty tough, and we knew we were going to pound the ball on offense. It was just about being the next guy up.”
The road win was Indiana’s first since against a Big Ten opponent since defeating Illinois in Champaign in 2012. It’s also the second time the Hoosiers have won two road games in a single season since 2012 and the first time those two road wins have been over Power Five conference schools since 2001.
Asked if the win was a relief given its magnitude, Wilson said it wasn’t. He’s already more concerned about whether or not his team can repeat its performance next weekend against Purdue in the annual Old Oaken Bucket game.
“It’s just nice for the kids to get a victory,” Wilson said. “Win, lose or draw, you’ve got to go do it again.”