Indiana football took home its fourth win of the season on the road in a face-off against Michigan State in a snow flurry-filled double overtime affair.
After falling behind by 17 points in the first half, the Hoosiers chipped away at the Spartans’ lead to tie the game late in the second half. In sophomore quarterback Dexter Williams II’s first start of the year, a run-heavy gameplan helped the Hoosiers get the win 39-31.
“They knew it was my first start, and I couldn’t have done this without them,” Williams said.
In a season that started with three straight wins and has since slumped heading into the winter, it was a meaningful victory for the program.
“I was really proud of our players and the fight they showed today — unbelievable,” head coach Tom Allen said.
It was a totally flipped script for the Hoosiers as they entered the game passing more than most teams in the nation. But against the Spartans, Williams threw the ball just seven times in the game.
In the running back room, all three contributors made big plays alongside Williams’ rushing efforts. Indiana finished with 261 total rushing yards compared to just 31 passing yards, but when it mattered most in the second overtime, Williams hit junior tight end AJ Barner in the red zone to set up the winning score.
In a season where the Hoosiers have been inconsistent on both sides of the ball with barely any rushing attack, they found a way to dominate on the ground in East Lansing, Michigan.
While the decision to start Williams came briefly before game day, it paid off with an efficient offensive performance. Williams finished the game with 31 yards through the air but carried the team with his rushing game, running it 16 times for 86 yards and a touchdown.
His stable of running backs had its best game of the season as well. Senior Shaun Shivers toted the rock 13 times for 115 yards and two touchdowns, including the game winner. Fellow senior Josh Henderson did the dirty work, totaling 11 carries for 36 yards and a touchdown of his own.
When it came to Shivers, Allen was beyond pleased with the performance.
“He saved his best for a really important game for us,” Allen said.
Freshman tailback Jaylin Lucas got his production in the return game, getting his second kick return for a touchdown this season and setting Indiana up with great field position throughout.
While the offense had a great game, the defense stepped up in big moments. An interception with the game still up for grabs allowed Indiana to close the gap in the second half, and the key stop in the second overtime sealed the victory.
Both sides were hampered by special teams. Michigan State missed the kick to end regulation and then had its first field goal of overtime blocked by Indiana. When Indiana had the ball in the first overtime, Michigan State returned the favor blocking the Hoosier’s kick.
The Hoosiers improved to 4-7 on the season and won its second Big Ten game of the year. As Indiana prepares for the duel with Purdue next Saturday, this win might have just provided a much-needed jolt of momentum.