Whop Philyor

Indiana's Whop Philyor battles Nebraska's Mohamed Barry. “It was chaos, straight chaos,” Philyor said. “It’s a big win for us, we’re all happy."

LINCOLN — Neither Indiana nor Nebraska has been to a bowl game since 2016.

The Hoosiers did something about that Saturday with a 38-31 victory over the Huskers. It was Indiana’s first win in Lincoln since 1959.

With less than two minutes remaining in the game, the Hoosiers were practicing their air bowling poses on the west sideline of Memorial Stadium. They’re 6-2 before Halloween. Of course they’re going to enjoy the moment.

It doesn’t matter that Indiana hasn’t won a bowl game since 1991 and that the Hoosiers have played in just four bowls since that Copper Bowl victory.

Indiana players and coaches know they have a chance to end that drought this year after accomplishing something no Hoosier team had done since 1993 — win three straight Big Ten games. Indiana has an excellent chance to run that streak to four on Nov. 2, when it hosts Northwestern.

How the Hoosiers became bowl eligible, and how they kept Nebraska two wins shy of that, is best summed up by one word that wide receiver Whop Philyor used to describe IU’s locker room after the game.

“It was chaos, straight chaos,” Philyor said. “It’s a big win for us. We’re all happy. You should have seen us in the locker room going crazy, going berserk.”

That scene brought tears to IU coach Tom Allen’s eyes as he wrapped up his postgame comments with an impassioned plea for Hoosier fans to show up for the Northwestern game and support this team. Allen pounded the podium three times. That passion helped drive his team on the field in a hostile environment.

Indiana created chaos for Nebraska’s pass defense, shredding the secondary for 351 yards and two of its five touchdowns.

Philyor didn’t score, but he had a pair of career highs with 14 receptions for 178 yards. Eight of his catches for 155 yards resulted in first downs. Two of those receptions came on fourth down, two on third down and three were first-down plays that went for 21, 20 and 24 yards. After two of his catches, the Hoosiers scored on the ensuing play.

Being the set-up guy was fine with the 5-foot-11, 178-pound junior from Tampa, Florida.

“We knew they were going to come out and play man against us all day,” Philyor said. “So we just wanted to execute the plays we had for this week.”

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Philyor was amped for the game. Allen said that was welcomed, but had to be tempered a bit.

On Indiana’s opening drive of the second half, Philyor was flagged for a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty after he bailed Indiana out of a third-and-12 with a 23-yard reception.

“Sometimes the very thing that makes you special is the very thing that hurts you,” Allen said. “He’s not a very big guy. He plays with a ton of energy and a ton of swagger. Sometimes I wish I had a muzzle. He needs a muzzle sometimes.

“But that energy is what causes him to make plays. So you have to teach him. When he had that penalty, I was with him and I kept holding him. I was not going to let him get away until I got eye-to-eye, ‘Yes, sir’ with the response. I knew I could do that.”

Philyor tried to plead his case to Allen, but the third-year coach wasn’t interested in excuses.

“He was hot,” Allen said. “‘But they’re doing this and they’re saying this.’ I don’t care what they call you, I don’t care about that. But that’s what makes him special. You should have heard him before the game.”

When asked about the chat with Allen, which was caught on BTN, Philyor had some fun. “What chat?” he responded, which brought laughs from the dozen or so reporters surrounding him.

“I just have to be more disciplined,” Philyor said. “I let my emotions get the best of me. We’re playing football, so everybody’s emotions just come from bleeding out (of) our jerseys. I just have to be more disciplined.”

At the end, Indiana’s running game ran out the clock on the Huskers’ rally.

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