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B1G 2021, Indiana Potluck #2: From Brains to Penix

We head down I-69 and marvel at how football is a game of inches.

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Indiana v Michigan State Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images

Hey! You! It’s Indiana Week!

While Candystripes has let you know what happened in 2020 and who’s new in Bloomington this fall—and we’ve asked if we’re buying the whole Tom Allen Experience thing—it’d probably be good to take a look at the actual players on the field, huh?

I dropped the ball yesterday on the Potluck—sorry, but South Dakota waits for no man—so hopefully we’ll bring the Hoosier content hot and fast over the next couple days.

Today [/puts on straight face] we’re traveling down I-69 to hang some brain and talk about our Penix.

Hey, wait, come back...

The Food: BRAINS

While they may not often be found in Washington, D.C.—though rest assured they’re popular in Cantonese cuisine—apparently this is A Thing in Evansville?

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, East St. Louis, Illinois, was a meatpacking juggernaut. And while cows may not seem like they have much going on upstairs, each animal that went to slaughter had a brain—and each brain made for cheap sandwich filling.

To make the concept more palatable, diner cooks across the river in St. Louis, Missouri, breaded and fried the brains, then swaddled them in a bun or some toasted marble rye. They further obscured any offal flavor and appearance with mustard, pickles, and onions. [...]

Although the local slaughterhouses have disappeared and offal is now an uncommon delicacy, a few restaurants in St. Louis and Evansville, Indiana, still serve brains. However, the first diagnosis of Mad Cow Disease in 1986 motivated the switch from bovine to porcine gray matter. According to food journalist Alton Brown, the modern pork version resembles a fritter on a bun.

The Hilltop Inn in Evansville remains an enduring brain sandwich-maker, and health experts suggest eating brains can even be good for children! But...I mean...

  1. Writers: Would you? Have you? WHY?
  2. Your thoughts on Evansville or Southern Indiana in general? (Go Screamin’ Eagles!)
  3. Grossest food you’ve ever eaten or that is a regional delicacy. Go.

MNW: Yeah, I’d eat damn near anything once. Maybe no mustard but some onions and a little vinegar and oil on there for me.

Go Purple Aces.

I don’t necessary think I’d call any of them gross—Rocky Mountain oysters, lutefisk, Malort—I’m more squeamish when it comes to the “eating bugs” kind of stuff. Or the old 1970s shit where apparently people encased peas and cut-up hot dogs and misbehaving children in Jell-O.

BRT: I guess I’d try it. I’ll try most foods at least once. I do not expect I’d like it, however. It sounds... chewy?

I don’t know what Evansville or Southern Indiana is famous for, or why either is notable. Is Mike Pence from there? Apparently, Pawnee, IN is located in south-central Indiana, and I suspect that is the best thing about southern Indiana - too bad it is fictional.

The grossest food I’ve ever eaten is morcilla, aka blood sausage. I actually liked it, but it doesn’t do to dwell on what it is while you’re eating it. The grossest thing I’ve ever encountered and didn’t eat was “stinky tofu” while in China. I’m usually game for trying anything once, but I’ve smelled pig pens (Nebraska is adjacent to Iowa, remember) and I just couldn’t get past the odor similarities.

Kind of...: (1) Anything once. And I suspect I would be fine eating if more than once. I consider beef tongue to be chewy and I would expect brain to be a bit more, I dunno, slippery? A little more oyster-ish?

(2) I don’t think of southern Indiana all that much, or with much intensity. For others, I guess it depends on how your Larry Bird/Bruce Pearl cost-benefit analysis plays out.

(3) Mountain oysters? Check. Pig intestine/chitlins? Yep. Sea urchin? Sure. Ground up crickets in a candy bar type thing? Indeed. It’s all in the preparation.


  1. Uh, no, I don’t think I could do that. I mean, breaded and fried, on a sandwich and don’t tell me and I think it’d be alright, but I’d definitely have a mental block being able to eat that knowing it’s brains.
  2. I know of Southern Indiana by driving to Kentucky for various reasons. It’s indistinguishable from Kentucky, and that should make Indiana feel bad.
  3. Lutefisk is gross, gross, gross.


  1. I think I’ll need to pass on this one. It’s pretty impressive that we actually found something I wouldn’t want to eat.
  2. Is Southern Indiana the klan-y part, or is that actually all of Indiana and I just don’t care?
  3. I’ve tried lutefisk once. Never again.


Brain sandwich?

This poll is closed

  • 13%
    (12 votes)
  • 28%
    I’ll try anything once.
    (25 votes)
  • 3%
    ...and I never will again.
    (3 votes)
  • 55%
    (49 votes)
89 votes total Vote Now

The Football: Experience, Transfers, and Penix

You might be familiar with Michael Penix Jr.’s greatest hit...

Hero Sports

...but the redshirt junior also put up gaudy numbers in 2020, throwing 14 TDs to just 4 INTs and averaging 7.5 YPA when dropping back to pass before another injury—this one a blown ACL—knocked him out for the year. Penix’s throwing motion does little to inspire me personally (and a 56% completion rate is...low), but his ability to bide time in the pocket and find open receivers doesn’t have me yearning for the days of Ben Chappell or anything.

WR Ty Fryfogle rightfully gets the non-Penix headlines in the Hoosier offense, but the question in 2021—outside of “Can Penix stay healthy?” of course—might just be whether the Hoosiers can wrangle a second contributor on offense now that Whop Philyor has moved onto the trainwreck that is the Minnesota Vikings and RB Stevie Scott is a New Orleans Saint. OC Nick Sheridan (who is, depressingly, just two years older than me) has risen through the ranks with the Hoosiers, and now it’s up to him to find a few new weapons.

TE Peyton Hendershot is, as far as I can tell, back (and “remorseful” for a 2020 domestic battery arrest), but the better question might be asked of the running back room: redshirt(-ish) frosh Tim Baldwin, Jr., had a decent 2020 (6.4 ypc on 22 rushes), while Sampson James saw a decent number of carries (but only racked up 3.0 ypc), and their contributions will be bolstered by former 5* USC running back Stephen Carr—though Carr is listed third in the Big Ten Media Days depth chart.

The place to look, though, will be at the additional wide receiver contributions. Miles Marshall is getting summer praise as a big body threat, while Penix will also have Florida State transfer D.J. Matthews able to stretch the field and perhaps serve as a multi-tool threat in some motions and more creative looks.

Speaking of transfers, the Hoosiers’ offensive line got a boost from OL transfer Dylan Powell (from Stanford) sticking around for a sixth year and Michigan redshirt sophomore Zach Carpenter. The latter joins an offensive line not hurting for experience but that, while finishing high in all the sack-related metrics (since it turns out you give up fewer when Penix can elude the rush), was 72nd in power success rate and 112th in the number of carriers that went for 4+ yards (per Football Outsiders).

OK, writers:

  1. Give us your impressions of the Indiana offense. Should we be concerned about the transfers gelling and the continued issues running the ball, or is there enough there for Indiana to put it together offensively?
  2. Michael Penix. Am I off-base in being skeptical of Penix as a QB—not because of his injury-proneness—or does Indiana have cause for concern?
  3. Tell us about the game of inches where your team either came up a winner or loser: What’s the Big Ten call that’s going to be Zapruder filmed to death in your circles?

MNW: Kain Colter got the first down. Good day.

Kind of...: Please read BRT’s contribution below carefully (and/or again).

(1) I’m skeptical of Indiana’s offense and

(2) skeptical of Penix.

Indiana was 59th in scoring offense last year. I would bet they’re lower this year. With or without Penix, I think the other losses will be felt. Adding Iowa and Cincinnati is not the way to beef up your offensive numbers, and most of the teams they played last year seem likely to be improved on the defensive side of the ball.

[***Re-reads intro describing new additions to IU offense. Hmm....***]

(3) It wasn’t quite inches, but the failed 2pt conversion vs. TCU at the end of the 2011 Rose Bowl will haunt me the rest of my life. UW was able to avoid OT vs. Iowa in 2019 thanks to a few inches, a much happier moment. There are probably 10 games I can think of that turned on a weird moment, but the Zapruder game is probably just watching Pac 12 officials amble about at the end of the 2013 ASU/UW game as if they had just had a huge lunch.


1) I’m sure the offense will be just fine as long as Indiana can get their Penix up. There’s plenty of tools around him. Just get something that resembles a running game and they’re towards the top of the B1G. Also: stop abusing women and giving 2nd chances to those who do so.

2) He’s perfectly fine when he’s healthy. He just never stays healthy and won’t again this year.

3) The 2015 Michigan game. Drew Wolitarsky was initially given a TD with 19 seconds left after a 22 yard catch from Mitch Leidner, but the review saw that he was down just before the pylon. The Gophers lined up as the clock wound down, fucked around, and threw an incompletion to TE Brandon Lingen. The Gophers called a TO and drew up a QB sneak, Harbaugh raced down the sideline screaming at the refs for a timeout of his own, and watched as his defense got a stop because Tracy Claeys was a putz.


  1. The WRs seem good, but overall this is definitely NOT the Indiana offense from Wilson. The running seems like it should be better. Honestly, it reminds a bit of the Iowa offense, and that is definitely NOT a compliment.
  2. He’s a top half of the conference QB. But that is a very, very low bar. His heroics are impressive, but overshadow his overall play which is very, very meh.
  3. Seems like almost every game Iowa plays is designed to be a game of inches. Iowa’s come out on top a few times (Michigan 1985, Michigan 2016, Penn State 2008) and lost a few. I think the one that makes Iowa fans the maddest is the Outback bowl in 2006 where a phantom offsides call cost Iowa a chance to win. It was also one of the last bowl games without instant replay.

BRT: The thing that impresses me the most about the Indiana offense is, of course, the greatness of the names. It’s hilarious to me that such a vanilla state boasts a team filled with Penixes and Fryfogels and Whop Philyors.

I’m not skeptical of Penix as a QB for any reason other than his injury-proneness, which, to be fair, is not nothing.

Nebraska has a number of instances where they’ve come up as both the loser and the winner as a result of inches, most of which involve Penn State. There was also that notable 2015 moment with Michigan State. They’ve also been on the wrong side of a second against Texas. (This remains my most painful football memory, btw.)

Ok, but you know what’s not impressive? Peyton Hendershot being “remorseful” about intimate partner violence. “It’s crazy how life can hit you, and I saw my life and my career and my future flash in front of me. And I never wanted to be in that position again,” he said. Oh, is it crazy, Peyton? I bet your ex-girlfriend thought it was pretty “crazy” to have a 6’4” D1 player break into her apartment and slam her into a wall while on a jealous spree. I bet she saw something flash in front of her too, only it was her actual life. STOP GIVING MEN FUCKING FREE PASSES FOR HURTING WOMEN. Politics, Olympics (don’t miss a male fencer accused by three women of sexual assault getting to go to the Olympics, while women are being fined for not wearing tiny enough bikini bottoms), Stanford swimming teams - there’s no place that is free of this absolute bullshit. There’s nowhere where a well-timed “apology” for “lack of judgment” doesn’t erase what a guy did in favor of concern over his “future.” Fuck that shit. You know what might start changing this behavior? Consequences for the guy. Don’t want to lose your scholarship and starting position? Don’t beat women. It’s actually pretty easy to go through the day not punching, shoving, or otherwise assaulting people. Millions do it every day. It should be a minimal standard, not something dismissed with “When things happen off the field, either they are a pattern of things that have happened previously or it’s a one-time deal” or blaming “the party culture and risk-taking behavior” or that “it was only 20 minutes of action.”

Anyway, rant over. Peyton Hendershot is not the only guy getting another shot, Indiana is not the only team giving free passes to guys with extraordinary athletic ability, and the fact that there are so few places, sports or otherwise, free of this bullshit is truly damnable.