Indiana football junior quarterback Jack Tuttle dialed up a long pass early in the second quarter. Hit as he threw, the ball instead found the hands of Rutgers freshman defensive back Max Melton. Tuttle was injured, and Indiana had only gained 86 yards of offense with 0 points.
In response, many members of Indiana’s student section began to head for the exits. Freshman quarterback Donaven McCulley, who had been out since early in the first quarter, entered the game. Indiana’s offense only gained 14 yards in his first two drives of the second quarter.
One group took it upon themselves to give the Hoosiers energy and inject spirit into a largely empty Memorial Stadium. It started as a trickle, a few fans heading up the steps of the limestone bowl and into the previously empty section 19.
Shirts off, bare chests exposed to Bloomington’s crisp autumn air, they began to swing their discarded shirts above their heads and chant. Jumbotron cameras, looking for something other than Indiana’s on-field product, zeroed in on the group in the stands to cheers from the crowd.
As section 19 pelted Indiana’s home field with a “Seven Nation Army” chant, its offense started a new drive. McCulley targeted senior wide receiver Ty Fryfogle on second down for an incompletion.
Then, as section 19 looked on, McCulley completed a pass to Fryfogle. The section erupted, a swaying sea of shirts waving above bobbing heads as Fryfogle weaved through the defense and into the Scarlet Knights’ territory.
Junior kicker Charles Campbell scored Indiana’s first points of the day with a field goal. Afterward, shirts went back onto torsos and the section once again became an empty row of beige bleachers. Save for a few shirted coat-wearing fans, the section was empty at the beginning of the second half.
As section 19 left, so too did Indiana’s offensive production. Indiana only gained 101 yards in the second half, scoring no points in the process to lose 38-3.
“Really nothing positive to say,” head coach Tom Allen said in a postgame press conference. “Disappointing, frustrating bad performance by our team. Very upset about it.”
Of Indiana’s 14 offensive plays on third-down, only one ended in a conversion. Indiana opted for a single fourth-down attempt, an incomplete pass from sophomore quarterback Grant Gremel to end the team’s penultimate drive.
Indiana has been outscored 237-73 against Big Ten competition this season. It has now been outclassed by a team which, just two years ago, managed but a single passing yard in Memorial Stadium. At 2-8 and without a conference win, it's firmly in the basement of the Big Ten East.
When asked if he would consider making any moves with his coaching staff before the end of the season, Allen said there would be evaluation following the end of Indiana’s season.
“I understand this is hard,” Allen said. “But you have to also take a strong, hard look at yourself and how you want to be known and remembered and identified by how you play the game.”