In many regards, the Hoosiers losing on Saturday at Happy Valley to Penn State 34-27 was exactly how Indiana football has operated, coming close and coming up just short. Saturday’s game, though, was different in that it wasn’t a fluke performance in a season full of inconsistency. Indiana played, more or less, exactly like the team they have been this season. But a few very costly mistakes showed how fine the line is when attempting to upset a top-ten team on the road.
It would be hard to start anywhere but with Ramsey. His throw to Ty Fryfogle for the first touchdown was perfect even if no one was within 15 yards of him. It wasn’t the only throw downfield he made on the money. And he did most of it while being pressured relentlessly on the day.
Ramsey finished 31-for-41 for 371 yards and a touchdown in the air and ran for two more. And he did it without Whop Philyor for most of the game (side note: just eliminate the targeting penalty if you can’t get it right). And against a top-ten defense in the nation. It’s been said over and over this season but Ramsey has been absolutely nails all year.
His 11-play, 91-yard fourth-quarter drive that lasted 5:22 and cut Penn State’s lead back down to three was very un-Hoosier-like but was incredibly impressive. He continues to give IU a chance in games all season long.
First, it’s important to note that Whop Philyor did not touch the ball. It was clear from every angle. His reaction immediately indicated that he either (A) did not touch the ball or (B) was the coldest dude in the stadium to be able to sell the fact he didn’t touch it if he did. The good news for Indiana was that the Mind Boggling Decision By The Ref Regarding A Turnover Against A Ranked Team came in the first quarter and not the fourth so the Hoosiers had a better chance of overcoming it. Still, Philyor either needed to grab the ball or not. His indecisiveness led to a turnover.
The fake punt, though, can’t really be explained away. If you take a timeout before the play, either go for it or don’t. But don’t even line up in a fake punt formation and run the risk. Tom Allen confirmed the miscue came from the long snapper, which was clear based on Peyton Hendershot’s reaction to the ball being snapped to him.
Those two plays led directly to 14 points for Penn State. You can’t have both of those moments when looking for a road upset.
Move on to Michigan
Indiana has responded well in its losses this season. But they haven’t had an opponent like Michigan waiting for them after the previous two losses.
But there are plenty of positives to take away from the day. Largely without Philyor, Indiana passed for nearly 400 yards against an elite defense and out-gained Penn State on the day. A team vying for a spot in the College Football Playoff had to milk the clock and play the possession game late to hang on to a win against Indiana. That’s a positive!
Now, Indiana heads back home for it’s biggest home game of the year. There’s a lot of history of the Hoosiers coming close against Michigan and there’s even more reason for optimism that Indiana can make one last breakthrough and knock off a ranked team.