Indiana expects another shot on a ranked opponent to perform better and get their season back on track.
The Hoosiers (1-1) host the No. 8 Cincinnati (2-0) on Saturday at Memorial Stadium, where Indiana has gone 8-2 since the start of the 2019 season.
Indiana faces its highest-ranked non-conference opponent since playing at home against No. 2 USC on September 19, 1981.
After losing to No. 5 Iowa 34-6 to start the season, Indiana rebounded with a 56-14 victory in their home opener against Idaho. The Hoosiers have scored two of their eight special team touchdowns – a blocked punt and an 81-yard punt return for a DJ Matthews touchdown.
“You have an opportunity in Week 1 (against Iowa), and we’ll have plenty of opportunities as you see the polls come out as the season unfolds so we can play against the best teams in the country,” Indiana football coach Tom Allen. noted. “And our schedule is full of them. And this is the next one.”
To seize this opportunity, Indiana will need a big game from quarterback Michael Penix Jr., who has gotten somewhat back on track after throwing three interceptions in the loss to Iowa. Penix completed 11 of 16 passes for 68 yards with two touchdowns and a TD rushed against Idaho before being shot in the third quarter with the Hoosiers comfortably in the lead.
“In terms of progress from week 1 to week 2, I feel like we just performed better, performed at a (higher) level,” said Penix. “We just kept playing the full 60 minutes. We made sure we didn’t give up.”
Cincinnati (2-0) comes off a 42-7 victory over Murray State. The Bearcats got off to a slow offensive start, with a game tied at 7 at halftime, before moving away with 35 unanswered points in the second half.
“For us, I think there is nothing better than having to deal with adversity,” said Cincinnati coach Luke Fickell. “In week 1 we really didn’t have to deal with adversity, we kind of went out and played the way we wanted to, and the only way to grow is to have adversity. “
Quarterback Desmond Ridder picked up where he left off last season, passing for 538 yards with six touchdowns and one interception in his first two games. Running back Jerome Ford added 238 yards and four touchdowns on 7.8 yards per carry.
Speculation swirls this week around Fickell’s status, which has led Cincinnati to a 37-14 record and three consecutive appearances in the Bowl entering its fifth season. Southern California coach Clay Helton was fired on Monday and USC athletic director Mike Bohn hired Fickell while he was athletic director at Cincinnati.
“I hardly speak to my own family during the season,” Fickell said. “So I would never talk about it, I wouldn’t even answer a phone call or something. I don’t know anything, and I don’t care about that either. It’s okay. only distractions if people allow it to be, and for us it can’t be. “
– Field level media