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Rutgers overcomes 25-point deficit, hits game-winning FG as time expires

Robert Martin rushed for 124 yards and three touchdowns in Rutgers' comeback win over Indiana. AP Photo/Doug McSchooler

Rutgers coach Kyle Flood -- who returned to the sideline after a three-game suspension -- couldn’t have asked for a more exciting welcome back.

The Scarlet Knights overcame a 25-point, third-quarter deficit to shock the Indiana Hoosiers after kicker Kyle Federico nailed a 26-yard field goal as time expired. Rutgers won 55-52, after scoring 28 unanswered points.

“It’s not easy to describe right now,” Flood told the Big Ten Network right after the game. “I’m so proud of our team.”

Indiana’s Nate Sudfeld carved up Rutgers' secondary to the tune of a career-high 464 yards and four touchdowns. But it was his play in the fourth quarter that might end up being most remembered.

After Rutgers scooped up a botched snap on a punt and returned it for a TD, Sudfeld seemed to press, throwing two interceptions in the final quarter.

Rutgers made Sudfeld pay, as it converted both turnovers into touchdowns.

With the win, Rutgers improves to 3-3, 1-2 (Big Ten) while the Hoosiers drop to 4-3, 0-3.

What the win means for Rutgers: Not only does this keep Rutgers’ bowl hopes alive -- at least for now -- but this game provides an absolutely huge confidence boost to a team sorely in need of one. The Scarlet Knights have a tough schedule ahead (Ohio State, Wisconsin, Michigan and Nebraska) so they needed a win, seeing as their best victory to this point has been against historically awful Kansas. This was an incredible comeback for the Knights, and it might end up going down as Rutgers’ highlight of the season.

What the loss means for Indiana: So much for its best start in 25 years. Indiana started 4-0 on the season for the first time since 1990, but it’s lost its past three games -- and it’ll be big underdogs in its next three against Michigan State, Iowa and Michigan. Because of that, Indiana needed this win to have some breathing room and qualify for a bowl. As it is, the most likely path to the postseason now is beating both Maryland and Purdue. That doesn’t leave a lot of room for error.

Players of the game: Leonte Carroo & Robert Martin. It’s impossible to choose one over the other. Carroo played in only three quarters, but he accounted for every Rutgers passing TD. He finished with seven catches for 157 yards and three TDs. Martin was just as good, as he rushed for 124 yards and three TDs. Rutgers couldn’t have won without either of these two.

Unsung hero: Chris Laviano. Carroo was the star, but Laviano was still solid. He finished 28-of-42 for 386 passing yards, three TDs and one interception.

The game turned when …: On the first play of the fourth quarter, Indiana snapped the ball over its punter’s head -- and Rutgers’ Kemoko Turay scooped up the ball and returned it for a 26-yard TD. That cut RU’s deficit to 52-39 and forced Indiana to press a bit more than it would’ve otherwise. Sudfeld threw two interceptions afterward, and the momentum shifted entirely over to Rutgers.

Stat of the game: 1,223. That’s the total number of offensive yards in this game, as Indiana finished with 627 (464 passing, 163 rushing), and Rutgers had 596 (386 passing, 210 rushing). Both defenses clearly struggled, but the offenses made for what will likely turn out to be one of the B1G’s highest-scoring games of the season.

Uh, what?: Rutgers continued its odd running back rotation Saturday -- at least for a little while. Martin had the hot hand in the first half, as he carried the ball four times for 70 yards and two TDs at that point. So who opened the second half? Another running back, Josh Hicks, who proceeded to rush twice for minus-3 yards to begin the first drive. Rutgers boasts a talented stable of running backs but, sometimes, it sure seems as if it would benefit by sticking with one. Rutgers did eventually stick with Martin -- but it took some time. Interestingly enough, Rutgers also faced a similar issue last weekend.