BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Reakwon Jones raced 17 yards with a Rutgers fumble to score 10 seconds into the game and Indiana set a one-sided tone in an embarrassingly easy 35-0 Big Ten Homecoming romp over the hapless Scarlet Knights on Saturday.
The touchdown was the fastest in Memorial Stadium’s 60-year history.
The Hoosiers scored three touchdowns in the opening 6:52, starting on the first play of the game. Indiana’s Demarcus Elliott drilled Rutgers quarterback Johnny Langan to force the fumble, which Jones scooped for the go-ahead score. It was the first of four Indiana sacks in the first half.
After a Rutgers three-and-out, Indiana (4-2, 1-2 Big Ten) needed just 47 seconds and two plays to cover 70 yards as Michael Penix Jr. completed a 56-yard pass to Whop Philyor and then a 14-yard TD pass to Peyton Hendershot.
After another Rutgers three-and-out, Indiana took a bit more time, needing five plays to cover 59 yards in 2:43 with Nick Westbrook scoring on a 19-yard Penix pass.
Rutgers (1-5, 0-4) has been outscored 165-7 in conference play, including 117-0 on the road this season and now has lost 16 straight Big 10 Conference games. .
No Big Ten team has been shut out more since 2000 than Rutgers (10), and the Scarlet Knights didn’t join the conference until 2014.
Langan had only 1 yard passing. Convinced they couldn’t pass, the visitors repeatedly called running plays in third-and-long situations. It’s the ninth time since 2016 that a Rutgers quarterback has passed for less than 50 yards in a game.
Rutgers fired head coach Chris Ash on Sept. 29 after an 8-32 mark that ended with a 52-0 loss at Michigan. This was the second game in charge for acting head coach Nunzio Campanile, previously the tight ends coach.
Indiana was inspired after having two weeks to dwell on a 40-31 loss at Michigan State in which the underdog Hoosiers had tied the game with 2 minutes remaining. The victory snapped a four-game conference losing streak.
Penix completed 20 of 29 passes for 282 yards and three TDs with one interception. Indiana sophomore running back Stevie Scott III, a former Rutgers recruit who backed out of the commitment, ran for 164 yards on just 12 carries, an average of 13.7 yards per carry.
The Hoosiers had a 557-75 advantage in total yards.
Rutgers: Five consecutive lopsided losses make it difficult to accentuate any positives. If the Scarlet Knights are going to be competitive again, or have a chance at another win, it will likely have to come in the next three games (Minnesota, Liberty, at Illinois) because they finish against three of the Big Ten’s strongest teams (Ohio State, Michigan State, at Penn State).
Indiana: A program that hasn’t been to a bowl game since 2016 and just 11 in 120 years is now two wins away from becoming bowl eligible with six games remaining. Head coach Tom Allen’s first game as an interim coach taking over for the fired Kevin Wilson in 2016 was a 26-24 loss to Utah in the Foster Farms Bowl.
Philyor caught 10 passes for a career-high 182 yards to become the first Indiana receiver with back-to-back 100-yard receiving games since Ricky Jones in 2016. The junior had 14 receptions for 142 yards and two scores against the Spartans.
He should have scored a second-quarter touchdown as Rutgers botched coverage and allowed him to run uncovered down the middle of the field. But Penix’s pass was poorly underthrown and Philyor had to dive back for a 31-yard gain. The play was initially ruled incomplete, but upon review, the receiver was able to get his hands under the football for the grab.
Rutgers: At home next Saturday versus Minnesota.
Indiana: Visits Maryland next Saturday.