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Penn State post-mortem.

Honest, I haven't been pouting. I've been busy, although I'm sure I would have found the time to say something before now if IU had managed to win Saturday. First, let me say that Penn State won because the Nittany Lions are the better team. Not vastly better, but good enough to beat IU six or seven times if they played ten. Still, the Hoosiers dropped to 0-11 all-time against PSU and, in all likelihood, blew their last best chance to get a win against JoePa. The story of the game, as anyone who watched it or read any of the coverage knows, was the failure of Kellen Lewis and Tracy Porter, IU's offensive and defensive leaders, respectively, to hold on to the ball. Porter played well defensively, and the IU defense as a whole was good in the second half. He did, however, botch three punts. The first, a behind-the-head catch of a punt, he got away with. Unfortunately, he fumbled on a similar play later in the game, and on IU's last possession of the game, inexplicably declined to field a punt that he could have caught on about the 30. Instead, it rolled to the five yard line, putting IU, then down five, in a nearly impossible position. Kellen Lewis, ordinarily reliable, fumbled three times. In fairness to the opposition, the fumbles were a direct result of Penn State's success in reaching Lewis and containing his running ability (at least until the fourth quarter). Still, this was not a game in which the Hoosiers looked overmatched. They did in some respects, of course, but so did the Penn State secondary in its effort to contain James Hardy, who increased his season reception total by 45 percent, adding 14 catches to the 31 he had before the game.
Statistics? Here's the box. According to the IU box, Penn State outgained IU by a yard and they averaged 4.9 yards per play. Penn State largely stymied the rushing game all day (Kellen Lewis's TD run accounted for nearly all of IU's net rushing yards). Neither Bryan Payton nor Marcus Thigpen did much up the middle, but Thigpen did manage 58 receiving yards out of the backfield, definitely a positive development. The story of this game is pretty simple. It was fairly even statistically. IU lost four fumbles in Penn State territory, and each of those fumbles resulted in a four play "drive" resulting in a field goal. Had the defense not stood firm on those possessions, Penn State would have run away with it. If IU had held onto the ball, IU would have won.
Now, with four games, left, IU has two should-wins (Ball State, Northwestern) and two could-wins (Wisconsin, Purdue). Unfortunately, IU missed a golden opportunity to move up the ladder in the Big Ten. Hopefully, IU will take care of things in the two "easier" games and will be presented with similar opportunities against Wisconsin and Purdue. As I watch the MNF game (apparently the Jags' 3-9 record against the Colts all-time in division play makes this a hot rivalry in which the Jags always play the Colts tough), I may work through a post on bowl issues for IU and the Big Ten.