When the crowd at Ross-Ade Stadium wasn’t bearing down on him, it was Purdue’s future NFL first round draft pick on the defensive line.
The Boilermakers had roared to life in the fourth quarter, scoring two touchdowns to force overtime, then another to force a second. Now, in the shadow of Purdue’s goal line, Peyton Ramsey had a chance to end it all.
He could reclaim the bucket and cement himself into Indiana football lore forever. He found Peyton Hendershot over the middle on a third-and-10 to get here in the first place. One big moment to give him a chance at another.
Ramsey, who put his health on the line on countless plays beforehand to give Indiana a chance to win, did it again. Boilermakers had a chance, with arms wrapped around him to keep him from the endzone.
A few seconds later, Ramsey was lost in a sea of white and red as his teammates enveloped him. His Hoosier story would end weeks later in the Taxslayer Gator Bowl, but Indiana just isn’t there without him.
He’d already stepped up that season, leading Indiana past Nebraska at a jam-packed stadium in Lincoln to earn bowl eligibility.
The thing is, Ramsey didn’t need to be there. Had he chosen to transfer after Michael Penix Jr. was named Indiana’s starting quarterback, you couldn’t have blamed him. But no, he stayed.
There’s a reasonable argument to be made that there is no 2020 without Peyton Ramsey. A lesser quarterback taking the reins from Penix could have started a losing streak, sucked energy out of the program or both.
But no, his teammates were there and appreciated him, including Penix. When fans commented on Ramsey during an Instagram live, Penix stopped and defended his fellow quarterback.
It was Ramsey’s Jalen Hurtsian efforts that led Indiana to the first of two consecutive bowl appearances. Then, in another parallel to the former star at Alabama/Oklahoma, Ramsey went and led Northwestern to a Big Ten West title and a win over Auburn in the Citrus Bowl.
Now, the line of Indiana football quarterbacks of yore is long. You’ve got Antwaan Randle El, who was far ahead of his time, the ever-reliable Nate Sudfeld, Michael Penix Jr. and his heroics against Penn State and everything that Zander Diamont meant to this fanbase.
But when you’re giving out credit to those figures, make sure to not forget the tale of Peyton Ramsey.