The Ohio State Buckeyes are on another level. On Saturday, that almost didn’t matter.
In Indiana’s most high-profile game in recent memory, the No. 3 Buckeyes (4-0) used an effective running attack, with just enough Justin Fields peppered in there, to overcome the Hoosiers (4-1), 42-35.
The Buckeyes’ control of the contest started from the first drive for both teams. After forcing an Indiana punt, Fields hit Garrett Wilson on back-to-back plays to put OSU in the end zone. After scoring first against Michigan and MSU, the Hoosiers faced a deficit for the first time since the Rutgers game.
The Hoosiers tied the game on a Whop Philyor touchdown early in the second quarter. Philyor caught the ball around the five-yard line and powered through S Josh Proctor to get his second score of the season.
Then the Buckeyes hit the accelerator. In the final 9:22 of the first half, OSU scored three straight touchdowns, with a specific hat tip to HB Master Teague III, who bulldozed Indiana defenders on a consistent basis. After limiting their last two opponents to 73 combined rushing yards, the Hoosiers gave up over 100 before halftime.
The Buckeyes added to their lead on the opening drive of the third quarter. Fields carved up the Indiana defense like a surgeon, totaling 74 of his team’s 75 yards on the possession and punctuating it with a TD pass to Wilson, his second of the game.
No. 3 Ohio State led 35-7 at that point. Instead of giving in and focusing their attention to future games, Indiana bounced back with a vengeance. QB Michael Penix spearheaded the charge. Penix threw missiles all over the field, especially to his star wideout Ty Fryfogle. Penix and Fryfogle had career-high days on the afternoon in the yardage category.
The Hoosiers cut the deficit to 35-21 before Penix’s biggest mistake of the day. On an out route to the far sideline, Penix tried hitting Miles Marshall, but lockdown corner and future top-60 NFL Draft pick Shaun Wade picked off the pass and took it to the house for a pick-six. That seemingly put the game out of reach.
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Not so fast. Penix and Fryfogle continued to hook up down the field, and David Ellis, Marshall, and Philyor joined in the attack also. Overall, Penix ended up with a career-high 491 passing yards and turned many heads nationally against one of the most talented defenses in the country.
Ohio State had just a little too much firepower, which helped them close the deal, although it wasn’t without a little drama. After IU cut the deficit to 42-35, the Hoosiers had two separate chances to tie the game; however, the Buckeyes defense stood just strong enough to keep their undefeated season alive.
Player of the Game: In the first half, Indiana’s defense made a handful of big plays to make Fields uncomfortable. DL Jerome Johnson had a sack and interception before the break to disrupt the OSU offense. S Jamar Johnson made plenty of big plays. However, the star of the game has to go Michael Penix and Ty Fryfogle, who beat OSU’s secondary time and time again. Fryfogle undoubtedly has thrown his hat into the conversation for All-Big Ten First Team this season.
Up next: No. 9 Indiana returns home to face the unranked Maryland Terrapins (2-1) next week. The Terps haven’t played since Nov. 7, when they went to Penn State and won 35-19. Time and TV have not been assigned for the game yet. The Hoosiers beat Maryland, 34-28, in College Park last year.
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