That proved to not be the case, as Indiana ran wild, going for 363 yards on 44 attempts, an average of 8.3 yards per carry, as the Hoosiers defeated North Texas, 49-24.
Tevin Coleman led the way for the backfield, racking up 150 yards and one touchdown on 17 carries. Senior tailback D’Angelo Roberts added another 102 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 14 carries.
True freshman Devine Redding joined the rushing party, as his fourth quarter touchdown made him the third Hoosier back to score a touchdown on the Mean Green defense. He finished the game with 39 yards on seven attempts.
With how well North Texas has defended the run this season, the Indiana coaching staff made opening up holes a priority on Saturday.
“The big emphasis all week at practice was that our opponent was great at stopping the run,” Roberts said after the game. “So we wanted to do everything we could to change that.”
The running game was particularly successful in the second half, as the passing game, led by Sudfeld, was able to make a few big plays in the first half to open up some running lanes. Sudfeld found Shane Wynn in the first quarter on a deep post, leading to a 45-yard touchdown and forcing North Texas to drop more defenders back.
“The nature of this team is so run oriented,” IU head coach Kevin Wilson said. “I think as we threw it, it helped the run game. They were going to outnumber you, just put more people than you can block. You always want to get your quarterback a good start, but sometimes its just maybe the nature of the defense as well.”
“I think it goes both ways,” Sudfeld said. “Today, we knew we were going to have to pass to open up some run game, and other games we’re going to have to run to open up some pass game. That’s what game planning is all about, and we did a good job with that and guys executed.”
On the opening drive of the second half, Roberts received an off-tackle hand-off, met a defender a few yards down field, and executed a perfect spin move to break the tackle and take it a career-long 47 yards for a touchdown, giving Indiana a commanding 28-7 lead.
“I sized it up, got hit up top, and just kept going,” Roberts said. “I work on my spin move every day.”
“That was awesome, D-Lo made a phenomenal run,” Sudfeld said. “He doesn’t get as much respect as he should. D’Angelo is a work horse for us and he did a great job today.”
Roberts ran with a purpose all game, which is nothing out of the ordinary. After the game, Wilson had nothing but great things to say about the senior tailback.
“He’s a good teammate,” Wilson said. “We make a big deal about being good teammates, and D-Lo is one of our best teammates. He’s growing as a man, in his own way he’s one of the kids you can be more proud of because he does some neat things and he plays with a lot of passion.
“He understands his role, and he plays his role as hard as anyone. Just watch him on kick cover, he’s a great example of what guys should look like, and that’s better than coaching.”
On the next Indiana possession, it would be Coleman’s turn to make a splash, and he answered the bell. On a dive play up the middle, Coleman burst through the line and found the open field, taking it 74 yards. A North Texas defender caught up to him around the 15-yard line, but Coleman carried him an extra few yards to reach the nine yard line, setting up Roberts for his second touchdown of the game.
“I’ve never been caught from behind, I was kind of surprised myself,” Coleman said with a laugh. “But the guys fast. He won state in the 400-yard-dash in Texas, so he’s a fast guy. I was kind of dead because I had a couple of runs before. I was kind of mad he caught me so I was just trying to carry him in there.”
Coleman recorded his seventh straight 100-yard game, the longest streak in the nation. He also extended his school record touchdown streak to 14 games, also the longest in the nation.
“The kid’s a monster, he’s unreal,” Sudfeld said. “Great teammate as well, he’s not selfish. He’s a lunch pale guy, coming to work and works hard. I think the streak can keep going, but we don’t view it as a streak, he just comes to play and plays hard.”
What made the rushing attack even more impressive for Indiana was that they were missing its starting left tackle, Jason Spriggs. However, Dimitric Camiel, along with a few others, stepped up in his place, and the line didn’t miss a beat.
“They did a good job,” Coleman said. “They came out here and took the place of Jason and them and they worked hard. We just have to step up when someone gets hurt, and they did their thing and did their job, so I’m really proud of that.”