Indiana had the moment in their grasp. A Devine Redding score late in the third quarter put the Hoosiers up double digits. Even after consecutive Penn State touchdowns, Indiana responded with an impressive drive to wrestle the lead back.
However, the Nittany Lions escaped thanks to 17 unanswered points to end the game despite what was generally a bad day for them offensively.
Same script, different game
It’s exhausting to write about Indiana’s almost wins over ranked teams the past two seasons, but move this one near the top of the list. The Nittany Lions were banged up on the offensive line and didn’t have their ‘A’ game for much of the day.
But five Hoosier turnovers, including same at critical junctures, helped Indiana sufficiently shoot themselves in the foot. This wasn’t a game Indiana needed to have, but it sure would have been nice to take a game that Penn State was more than willing to hand away today.
The offense can’t get out of it’s own way
Indiana’s offensive struggles have been oft-discussed and today was no exception. On a day where Richard Lagow was generally effective, finishing with 292 yards, 2 TDs, 0 INTs and the one fumble late, a host of other Hoosiers stepped up to shoulder the burden of ineptitude.
Mitchell Paige fumbled twice, Indiana ran into a punt to hand Penn State a score.
Over roughly a seven minute span, IU’s drives went fumble, touchdown, fumble, fumble before the fumble on the Penn State punt. That’s four fumbles in roughly a quarter and a half when your defense has Penn State silenced.
This defense is for real
This isn’t breaking news, but my oh my did the defense do their part today. Yes, the Nittany Lions had 45 points, but 17 of those points came directly because of turnovers.
Even more, the Hoosiers held Heisman candidate Saquon Barkley to 60 yards on 33 caries, 21 of those coming on one run. Which means on his 32 other carries, he had 39 yards. That’s elite level defense.
However, the Lions were given short fields many times today and possessed the ball for 33 minutes. You can only ask your defense to hold up for so long and the Indiana offense did their defense no favors.
The good news is that this game was a luxury, which we knew coming in. Indiana didn’t necessarily NEED this game with Purdue on the schedule to end the year. The bad news is, they get a week to regroup and head into the Big House for their toughest challenge of the year.