BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Had Indiana fielded a somewhat dangerous offense, IU may have pulled off their first win over Ohio St. since 1988.
Instead, Tom Allen‘s Hoosiers (0-1, 0-1 B1G) dropped their season opener to the No. 3 Buckeyes (1-0, 1-0 B1G) by a final score of 23-3. The 23 points were the fewest OSU scored against IU since 1993.
Looking to turn things around after a second straight losing season, Allen and his team opened at home against the nationally-ranked Buckeyes. The game kicked off the new era of Big Ten football on CBS.
Brendan Sorsby earned the start at QB for the Hoosiers. He ran the ball twice, and on third down, the Buckeye defense stopped him just short of the first down, resulting in an early three-and-out drive. The Buckeyes responded with an 80-yard scoring possession. Kyle McCord started at QB, but OSU’s ground attack led the way, with Miyan Williams punching it into the end zone.
Early on, the Indiana defense struggled to keep up with the speed and agility of OSU, encouraging the Buckeyes to take advantage of the outside run. The Hoosiers would adjust.
After back-to-back drives with no movement, Tayven Jackson took over at QB. Jaylin Lucas used his quickness to get outside and tally an Indiana first down. This was to no avail, as IU had to punt for the third time in the first quarter. IU trailed 7-0 after 15 minutes.
The Buckeyes kept their foot on the gas, coupling outside runs with short passes to move downfield. Their momentum was halted when McCord threw an interception to IU sophomore DB Phillip Dunnam. After a season when IU struggled to take away the football, they had their first of 2024.
The Hoosiers navigated down the field and set up kicker Chris Freeman for a 42-yard field goal that doinked off the post and through the uprights.
The Hoosiers forced another Buckeye punt, fueling their offensive fire. Lucas recorded a 29-yard punt return to set IU up near midfield. Walt Bell called several runs, but IU’s offense could not find cracks in the Buckeye defense, turning it over on downs with 38 seconds left in the half.
OSU benefited from a questionable taunting call on Jamari Sharpe, and after a 24-yard pass to TE Cade Stover, the Buckeyes drilled home a field goal to take a 10-3 hafltime lead.
Both teams exchanged drives that ended with punts to start the second half. Several players on IU’s defense made a noticeable impression, led by Andre Carter, Aaron Casey, Noah Pierre, and Louis Moore. Carter was outstanding all game, racking up two TFLs and a PBU, while Casey led the Hoosiers with 11 tackles.
OSU’s second drive seemed all but over until a costly pass interference call gave the Buckeyes another chance. Julian Fleming had a 27-yard catch-and-run to put his team in scoring position. After a strong IU defensive stand at the 4-yard line, including a magnificent Carter tackle on McCord, OSU hit a 22-yard field goal to make it a 10-point game.
Despite IU’s determined defensive efforts, the Hoosier offense struggled to get into a scoring position. Jackson struggled to find open receivers and the Hoosiers’ run game was stuck. IU punted away to an Ohio State offense that was finding rhythm.
After struggling to hit anything deep downfield, McCord drilled a pass to Cade Stover over the middle for a 49-yard catch-and-run. The Buckeyes pushed through the Hoosier defense with three consecutive run plays, ending the drive with a 3-yard rush by Williams to score. The Buckeyes led 20-3 with 15 minutes left in the contest.
Indiana, in an effort to keep the game alive, switched quarterbacks and gave Sorsby a second chance. Sorsby connected with Dequece Carter for a 16-yard pass and E.J. Williams for a 19-yard gain. The Hoosiers, as was the case for the first three quarters, ended up running out of steam and turned the ball over on downs at the OSU 42-yard line.
Indiana did not work the football into the red zone all game. After a final OSU field goal pushed their lead to 20, Sorsby took a sack resulting in another IU punt. All in all, James Evans had a very productive game for the Hoosiers, and he might turn into a weapon in future games in the case they continue to be low scoring.
Indiana will remain home to take on the Indiana St. Sycamores on Friday night at 8pm ET on BTN. ISU lost their opener in shutout fashion to Eastern Illinois.
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