Connor Bazelak leads winning drive in his IU football debut

Connor Bazelak was named starter for Indiana's Big Ten season-opening win Friday night over Illinois.

Hoosiers coach Tom Allen had named Bazelak as the starter last week, but did not reveal it publicly. Allen said Jack Tuttle and Bazelak had a close competition during training camp. Both are classic drop-back passers.

"It was very close," Allen said on Aug. 23. "It was a very, very long and detailed process we went through. I have to make the final call and the buck stops with me on that. But at the same time, it's a group decision. We feel really good about it. It's a strong consensus by everybody, that's what you want."

Bazelak's opening series was eventful. On the first play, his screen pass to Shaun Shivers was broken up hard by Illinois defensive back Devon Witherspoon, sending Shivers to the sideline. Bazelak got sacked on the second play, and he hit Cam Camper for 40 yards on the third play. The drive resulted in a 39-yard Charles Campbell field goal.

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After the offense struggled throughout the second half, Bazelak led a late 75-yard drive that resulted in a go-ahead touchdown in the final minute of IU's 23-20 victory. He completed 28-of-52 passes for 330 yards, 1 touchdown and 1 interception.

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Tuttle was the incumbent, appearing in six games last season before suffering an injury, completing 51.7% of his passes with 2 touchdowns and 5 interceptions.

Bazelak transferred in from Missouri, where he completed 65.3% of his passes for 2,548 yards, 15 TDs and 11 INTs.

Donaven McCulley, who finished last season as IU's quarterback as a freshman, has moved to wide receiver.

This article originally appeared on Indianapolis Star: Indiana football: Connor Bazelak leads winning drive in debut