Indiana can’t capitalize on turnovers, falls to Ohio State, 42-35
On an afternoon that felt like No. 9 Indiana was within a play of grabbing momentum against No. 3 Ohio State, the Hoosiers were unable to capitalize on three interceptions thrown by quarterback Justin Fields.
Indiana (4-1, 4-1 B1G) fell to Ohio State (4-0, 4-0 B1G), 42-35, for its first loss of the 2020 season.
Fields matched his career total of interceptions with three against an Indiana defense that played well against the Buckeye passing attack. Indiana entered the game tied for the Big Ten lead in interceptions with eight, adding three more to bring their total to 11 in that category.
Jamar Johnson collected two of the three Hoosier interceptions, with Jerome Johnson catching the other pass on a deflection caused by Reese Taylor.
Once Ohio State and head football coach Ryan Day started to integrate the running attack into the game plan, the Buckeyes became difficult to stop on offense. Master Teague carried the ball 26 times for 169 rushing yards with two touchdowns. Oklahoma transfer Trey Sermon received nine carries for 60 rushing yards. Fields added 78 yards on the ground on 15 carries, including a nine-yard touchdown run to make it a 28-7 game heading into halftime.
Fields’ final stat line had the quarterback complete 18-of-30 passes for 300 passing yards, and threw for two touchdowns in addition to his score on the ground. Fields entered the game with just 11 incompletions this season.
Ohio State dominated the rushing game all afternoon, winning that category 307 to -1 yards. However, the bright spot for Indiana consistently throughout the game came in the passing attack.
Quarterback Michael Penix Jr. finished with a career-high 491 passing yards, completing 27-of-51 pass attempts for five touchdowns. Penix did throw one interception in the third quarter, a 36-yard interception return by Shaun Wade for a touchdown in what would be the deciding score, giving Ohio State a 42-21 lead.
The passing yardage total by Penix put the quarterback in elite company among single-game passing yards by an Indiana quarterback all-time. The left-hander finished just behind Richard Lagow (2016, Wake Forest), who finished with 496 passing yards in that game.
The best wide receiver on the field for either team suited up for Indiana— Ty Fryfogle. The senior wideout finished with seven receptions and 223 receiving yards, to go along with three touchdowns. Fryfogle’s touchdowns came in the variety of 63, 33, and 56-yard scores.
For the first time since 2012, Indiana outscored Ohio State in the second half. However, mistakes early on seemed to prove costly as the game resulted in a one-score loss for the Hoosiers.
Down a touchdown early, Fryfogle dropped a pass on fourth down at the Ohio State 36 yard-line following an interception that set Indiana up with great field position.
Indiana could not get a critical score with 3:16 remaining in the first half that would have made it a 21-14 Ohio State lead, following a fumble by David Ellis inside the redzone.
In the third quarter, Fields threw an errant pass that Jamar Johnson was able to corral, returning it 24 yards to the Ohio State 16 yard-line. However, Johnson fumbled the ball on the return, giving the ball right back to the Buckeyes.
The win by Ohio State gives the Buckeyes 25 (26 if counting the vacated win in 2010) consecutive wins over Indiana, dating back to 1991.
Indiana will look to rebound from their first loss of the season against Maryland at home next Saturday. The time and channel information has not been released. Maryland has not played the past two weeks due to COVID-19 concerns within the program.