Indiana vs. Northwestern
When: 7 p.m. Saturday
Where: Memorial Stadium, Bloomington
Radio: 1250 AM
BLOOMINGTON – Everyone remembers the first time they saw Chucky.
Defensive back Juwan Burgess was walking home with Whop Philyor when Indiana's leading wide receiver whipped out a doll depicting the horror movie character from “Child's Play,” complete with red sneakers, overalls and Chucky's signature flaming red hair.
Philyor carried Chucky in his hands through the bright Bloomington daylight as the pair returned to their neighboring apartments.
Quarterback Peyton Ramsey saw Chucky before boarding Indiana's flight to Nebraska, when Philyor strolled into the locker room with the doll in tow.
Ramsey didn't see Chucky again until just before kickoff Saturday, which is also when running back Stevie Scott realized Philyor brought Chucky with him on the 700-mile trip.
As Indiana ran onto the field in Lincoln, Nebraska, Philyor stood sandwiched between offensive linemen DaVondre Love and Matthew Bedford. Their eyes focused straight ahead, awaiting the task of delivering Indiana its first win over Nebraska since 1959.
All the while Philyor's right hand grasped Chucky by the waist.
“Man, Chucky (is) a bad man so we gotta bring a bad man out 'cause we a bad football team,” Philyor said.
Philyor likes the “Child's Play” film franchise, which features eight slasher films with Chucky as the central character. Halloween is also Philyor's favorite holiday.
So it makes sense that Indiana's most boisterous player took last week as an opportunity to show off some swagger en route to what became the most significant win of his time as a Hoosier.
“I was like 'When'd you get that? I would've gotten one too!'” Burgess said. “I would have gotten like a Freddy (Krueger) glove or something. I like when we all have some type of swagger to us. I love that. I love everything about that.”
Said Scott: “That's just the way to get him hype. It's a good look for him.”
Ramsey loves Philyor's attitude.
“I was really confused, I didn't know what was going on at first,” Ramsey recalled. “I was like, 'This is weird,' but that's just Whop's personality. He's a fun guy to be around, (an) awesome guy to be able to throw the ball to.”
Few players would decide to enter a road environment in the Big Ten with a Chucky doll in hand, and even fewer could back up that bluster.
His 14-catch, 178-yard receiving day made him the only player in the FBS with three games of 10 catches or more this season.
But his contributions as a receiver (57 catches for 737 yards) are surpassed by his value as a teammate.
“He's got great juice on the sideline,” tight end Peyton Hendershot said. “Everybody loves Whop.”
Confidence has come in fits and starts for past Indiana teams.
“We're not the same Indiana everybody's used to,” Burgess said. “We're coming on a mission. Call it what you want, but this is Indiana.”
Philyor faces a dilemma this week.
Indiana's Saturday kickoff against Northwestern is a prime chance for the Hoosiers to reach seven wins for the first time since 2007.
The distinction of playing the first November night game at Memorial Stadium adds to the occasion.
But Saturday is two days after Halloween, and Philyor isn't sure if Chucky will make an appearance again.
If he doesn't, Burgess has an idea of what he might be up to.
“Chucky is laying low right now,” he said. “He's probably in the house running around, 'cause you know he comes alive.