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After comeback win, Indiana faces scrappy Idaho

Sportsnaut
Indiana's Connor Bazelak (9) throws a pass during the Indiana versus Illinois football game at Memorial Stadium on Friday, Sept. 2, 2022.Iu Il 1h Bazelak 3
Credit: Rich Janzaruk/Herald-Times / USA TODAY NETWORK

One week after Indiana quarterback Connor Bazelak piloted the Hoosiers to a game-winning touchdown against Illinois in his program debut, the Missouri transfer leads his team against visiting Idaho in Saturday.

Bazelak endured a rough beginning against the Illini in last week’s season opener, but he recovered to finish 28-for-52 for 330 yards with one touchdown and one interception as Indiana prevailed 23-20.

He was poised on the deciding drive, leading Indiana on a 75-yard march that culminated in Shaun Shivers’ go-ahead, 1-yard scoring run with 23 seconds to play.

“Once you get in a rhythm in this offense and even just personally, once I get a completion on first down of the drive, that really gets me going,” Bazelak said.

“Just my tempo. My accuracy. It’s tough on me, I feel, when I have two incompletions (in a row). I feel like my rhythm is off. So I’ve just got to focus on taking check-downs if nothing is open deep and just get in a rhythm.”

That may be a tougher proposition for Indiana (1-0) than some might think.

Idaho (0-1), in its fifth season since leaving the Football Bowl Subdivision for the Football Championship Subdivision, gave host Washington State a scare in last week’s season opener.

The Vandals jumped to a 10-0 lead after one quarter and forced three Cougars fumbles before losing 24-17.

It was the first time Idaho remained within one score of a Power 5 opponent since a 21-20 overtime loss at Virginia in 2011. Between that contest and Saturday, the Vandals had lost 11 straight Power 5 games by an average of 48.2 points.

“I give these players a ton of credit for buying in and believing they could win, come in here and have a chance to win the game in the fourth quarter,” Idaho coach Jason Eck said.

Indiana, which thumped visiting Idaho 56-14 last season in the first meeting between the schools, will be without right tackle Matthew Bedford for the remainder of the season, as he sustained a torn ACL against Illinois.

“It’s a tough blow for Matt,” Hoosiers coach Tom Allen said. “I feel for him. He is an amazing young man. But he has got an unbelievable attitude about it. And in talking with him, he’s going to have a great recovery and come back and play his final season a year from now.

“But reality is that it’s part of this game. You hate it for him and for our team. But next man up. And that’s what happens.”

Parker Hanna, a junior college transfer who played 44 snaps against the Illini, is set to take over the starting spot, Allen said.

“Whoever is in there at right tackle, the standard is set high,” Bazelak said. “They’ll work their butts off to meet that expectation.”

Idaho’s Jermaine Jackson had six receptions for a career-best 113 yards against Washington State.

The Hoosiers allowed Illinois to gain 448 yards, including 199 by Chase Brown on the ground.

–Field Level Media