Everything about Saturday’s game fit the mold for Indiana. Favored on the road against a team they should have beaten with relative ease, the Hoosiers turned down a chance to go up 21-7 for the opportunity to tie the game at 14-14 following a tipped interception in the end zone and a 60-yard touchdown pass from Maryland.
The icing on the cake for the Hoosiers was that Michael Penix Jr. left the game with an undisclosed injury and Peyton Ramsey entered. It was a script that had played itself out multiple times in the decades of misery. Ramsey comes in, struggles, Maryland hangs around thanks to big plays and inept defense and scores late to take the win.
In reality, that outcome was very much in the cards before Tyrell Pygrome gifted Reese Taylor the easiest interception of his young career. But Indiana was only in that game because of Ramsey, a sentence that isn’t often said.
So consider this an apology and a thank you to Ramsey. I’ve been hard on him in the past and I’ve called for his benching. I stand by all of it especially after Penix has done [gestures wildly at his season] all of this. Ramsey could have easily left when Penix won the starting job this preseason. With Ramsey an upperclassmen and Penix a redshirt freshman, the writing was pretty much on the wall for Ramsey.
And, while we joke, MAC schools and mid-major programs would have come calling if he entered the transfer portal. But him staying has led to plenty of playing time (we’ll soon have to address the fact our best quarterback in a decade is also made of glass) and when Indiana needed to break a decades-long trend, he was the man for the hour.
Now, he did play behind an offensive line that got about whatever they wanted. Stevie Scott averaged six yards a carry, Maryland had one sack and Ramsey generally wasn’t under pressure on the day. But when dealing with the laws of Indiana football past, those factors don’t matter.
Ramsey still needed to make plays. His throw to Nick Westbrook was picture perfect and, honestly, one of the best throws of his career.
Peyton Ramsey's number was called after @IndianaFootball QB Michael Penix left the game, and Nick Westbrook helped him out with a phenomenal catch.#BTNStandout x @AutoOwnersIns pic.twitter.com/LAsacQRhNb— Big Ten Network (@BigTenNetwork) October 19, 2019
He fell victim to some uninspired playcalling in the second half that screamed of not wanting to lose the game versus wanting to win.
Despite all that, Indiana won and now, #9WINDIANA is less of a meme and more of a distinct possibility.
8-4 is now the most likely outcome in the regular season. The likelihood of Indiana finishing with at least eight wins now stands at 68 percent after some rounding. It’s more likely that IU finishes 10-2, a win mark they’ve never reached, than they do 5-7, their record each of the last two seasons.
Even though 10-2 is almost certainly not in the cards, #9WINDIANA isn’t and Ramsey is to thank for that.