Indiana Downs Penn State for First Time Ever
For the first time in program history, the Penn State Nittany Lions lost to the Indiana Hoosiers, 44-24, on Saturday afternoon.
It was the first Big Ten conference game for each team after their respective bye weeks. It was a rainy day for the 42,125 fans in Bloomington, Ind. with much of the first quarter dedicated to each team getting used to the conditions.
The Nittany Lions’ (3-2, 0-1) defense didn’t have an answer for the Hoosiers’ (3-2, 1-0) face-paced offense at Memorial Stadium.
After a botched snap on a Penn State’s field goal attempt, Indian took over on their 44-yard line. With 3:05 remaining in the first quarter, sophomore quarterback Nate Sudfeld drove his team 66-yards in 44 seconds for his first touchdown pass on the day. He connected with redshirt junior wide receiver Isaiah Roundtree for a five-yard touchdown pass.
Sudfeld would finish the day with 23-38, 321 passing yards and two touchdowns. He also had one interception on the day.
Sudfeld did say that his coach Kevin Wilson told the team not to think of the past history with Penn State. “We thought it of it as this year’s Hoosier team versus this year’s Penn State team,” Sudfeld said. “That is what we did and we treated it as a normal game. I am proud of our guys and what they did today.”
"Why we lost today was because Indiana coached and played better," Nittany Lion head coach, Bill O’Brien said. “It starts with me, I have to do a much better job of coaching.”
O’Brien’s play calling came into question early on in the game when Penn State had a fourth-and-5 early on in the first quarter. He decided to have the team go for it instead of having Sam Ficken attempt a field goal, allowing Indiana to take over at their 26-yard line.
O’Brien, who usually goes for the fourth down conversion, said the game was going to come down to touchdowns. “With 20-20 hindsight, we probably should have kicked it,” he said.
Penn State freshman quarterback Christian Hackenberg put up career high numbers, but was unable to match the productivity of the Hoosier offense.
Hackenberg was 30-55, had 340 passing yards and threw for three touchdowns with no interceptions.
On the Nittany Lions’ first touchdown, Hackenberg connected with wide receiver Allen Robinson for a 46-yard touchdown. With 9:19 remaining in the first half, Hackenberg threw a slant pass to Robinson who turned to the outside, stopped and spun back to the inside and broke free of any Indian players at the 15-yard line and walked into the end zone.
Indiana was able to take the lead, 13-7, going into halftime behind two field goals from Mitch Ewald. The first was 24-yard field goal with 6:43 remaining in the first half and the second a 27-yard field goal as time expired in the first half.
Hackenberg would connect with Robinson for another touchdown at 9:18 in the third quarter. That time it would be for a 26-yard reception. Robinson now has 16 career touchdown receptions, moving into fifth all time in the Penn State record books.
Robinson finished the day with 12 receptions for 173 yards and two touchdowns.
Indiana had an immediate response for the Nittany Lions, scoring a touchdown in a under a minute and thirty seconds. Sophomore running back Tevin Coleman had a 45-yard touchdown run right up the middle of the field to take the lead back with 7:56 remaining in the third quarter. The Hoosiers elected to go for the two-point conversion and quarterback Tre Roberson converted for Indiana. Indiana took the lead 21-14.
Penn State was able to close the gap a little behind a 30-yard field goal by Sam Ficken, his only one of the day. With 2:04 reaming in the third quarter, the Nittany Lions found themselves down 21-17. The field goal was set up by the only Indiana turnover on the day, an interception by Adrian Amos that allowed Hackenberg and company to get into red zone territory.
Nittany Lion fans had a bit of a scare as Hackenberg threw a back shoulder fade to Robinson, who fell hard on his back and had the wind knocked out of him. He was out for a couple of plays but would attempt to finish the game. O’Brien said that he tried to come back and play but the coaching staff held him back.
“It was tough because he is our playmaker,” O’Brien said. “But I think Indiana took the wind out of our sails by playing and coaching better.”
Indiana would allow its fast paced offense to take over in the fourth quarter, scoring three touchdowns in under five minutes.
Roberson would run for two touchdowns, from two and nine yards out, respectively.
Sudfeld would throw his second touchdown of the game, a 36-yard pass to senior wide receiver Kofi Hughes. Hughes caught the ball over his shoulder as he was falling to the ground in the end zone.
Sudfeld said the line gave him a ton of time to make the throw. “I had to scramble a bit,” he said. “Kofi is known for making big plays. I knew if I threw it to the corner of the end zone he would make a big play.”
Roberson’s second touchdown run was a product of a Eugene Lewis fumble off of a kickoff. Indiana led Penn State 41-17.
The Nittany Lions did try to make the game look less like a blowout with a touchdown pass from Hackenberg to Bill Belton. Hackenberg threw a 14-yard back corner pass that Belton caught just inside edge of the end zone.
Penn State attempted an onside kick but Indiana recovered it. The Nittany Lion defense was able to force a three and out, however, the Hoosiers’ punt went inside the five-yard line, creating a daunting drive for Penn State.
Penn State was unable to go anywhere as Hackenberg fumbled in the end zone resulting in a safety with 5:40 remaining in the game. That nailed the coffin as Indiana took a 44-24 lead.
Penn State was outscored in the fourth quarter 23-7.
Penn State’s right guard, John Urshel said the worst part about today was the loss. “Indiana outplayed us today, it was as simple as that,” he said. “You can’t look at certain positions or people, this was a team loss.”
He said that it shouldn’t be hard for the team to bounce back from the loss.
The Nittany Lions will look to win their first Big Ten conference game as they face off against Michigan on October 12 in Beaver Stadium for Penn State’s homecoming game.
Megan Flood is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact her, email email@example.com.