Since 2018, the Emmy Awards have seen an unprecedented stretch of four consecutive first-time winners for outstanding comedy.
While season two of “Ted Lasso” threatens to break that streak in 2022, Indiana football’s 38-3 loss to Rutgers should prove to be a worthy challenger.
This game marked the first time Indiana had been favored to win since its week four showdown on the road at Western Kentucky University, making it the perfect opportunity for freshman quarterback Donaven McCulley to sharpen his skills against an inferior team.
He immediately fumbled a handoff on the opening play.
The Scarlet Knights quickly capitalized on the Hoosiers’ blunder and jumped to a 7-0 lead after junior running back Isaih Pacheco scored an 8-yard touchdown.
Minutes later, Indiana junior quarterback Jack Tuttle, who hadn’t played a snap since he sustained a foot injury three weeks ago against Ohio State, jogged onto the field.
Whatever method Indiana uses to determine which quarterback it sends out each drive never ceases to perplex me. It’s like a disenchanted Clue player trying different combinations late in the game, desperately searching for a winning combination.
Is it Colonel Mustard in the conservatory with the candlestick? No? How about, I don’t know, Jack Tuttle with an injured foot in the first quarter?
Tuttle displayed the sort of awareness you can only find in a seasoned leader. Unlike the woefully inexperienced McCulley, he had the veteran presence of mind to scoop up the ball when he also fumbled it on a botched handoff.
Tuttle left the field with an injury, once again, after throwing his second interception midway through the second quarter. He would remain the Hoosiers’ leading rusher with 16 yards.
The rest of the Hoosier offense didn’t fare much better, generating only 262 total yards while committing five turnovers. A muffed punt by the famously sure handed senior wide receiver Ty Fryfogle early in the second half brought the total to an even six.
Rutgers’ offense was far from explosive but didn’t need to be thanks to all the short fields Indiana gave it. Its flashiest play of the day came on a backwards pass to junior offensive lineman Raiqwon O’Neal, who launched his 6-foot-4-inch, 305-pound body into the end zone to put Rutgers up 31-3.
Otherwise, the Scarlet Knights slowly bowled through the Hoosiers’ defense en route to 218 rushing yards from nine different ball carriers.
The comedic geniuses who wrote the script to this game didn’t miss a beat. It felt only natural when walk-on sophomore quarterback Grant Gremel stepped in at quarterback in front of a nearly nonexistent crowd.
Gremel’s six completions for 53 yards earned him the best quarterback rating of any Hoosier passer. He nearly gave Indiana its first and only touchdown, but an open Fryfogle dropped the pass in the end zone.
Head coach Tom Allen said there was nothing positive to say about the afternoon, but he clearly wasn’t paying attention to the bleachers.
Anyone who watched this game knows the biggest highlight occurred late in the second quarter when a small but devoted gathering of Indiana students flocked to the upper northeast corner of Memorial Stadium and began removing its shirts. The pasty cavalcade steadily grew in size, rowdiness and nakedness until the conclusion of the first half, when it reclothed and exited the stadium.
Days from now, a young man will be lying in a hospital bed in the late stages of hypothermia. His weeping mother will caress his pale, clammy face.
She sees him struggling to speak and lowers her head so she can hear her sweet idiot son’s final words.
“Mom,” he faintly whispers in between violent coughs.
“Did I — did I make it on Barstool?”