Written By Sammy Jacobs (@Hoosier_Huddle)
We have hit the mid-point of the 2015 regular season and our Throwback Thursday Series as the Hoosiers traveled to Happy Valley to take on Penn State. At the beginning of the season, this game looked like it could be the game where IU finally knocks off Penn State on the road. Instead, IU could not overcome the casualties from the week before as both quarterback Nate Sudfeld and running back Jordan Howard were held out of the contest and the Hoosiers couldn’t muster much on offense bowing out 29-7.
Opponent: Penn State Nittany Lions
Location: Saturday October 10th /12:01pm/ Beaver Stadium/ (State College, PA)
Why They Played: The Hoosiers and Nittany Lions now meet annually as part of the Big Ten’s East Division.
What The Game Meant
The Hoosiers had a shot, if Nate Sudfeld and Jordan Howard would have played, to start 5-1 and beat the Nittany Lions for the first time ever in State College. However, IU was smart in holding both Sudfeld and Howard out seeing that they were not 100 percent.
Top Offensive Performers
Ricky Jones, WR, Indiana- There were not many bright spots on offense for the Hoosiers, but ide receiver Ricky Jones came to life in the second half as he finished with five catches for 59 yards.
Christian Hackenberg, QB, Penn State- The beleaguered quarterback had a career afternoon as he accounted for all four of Penn State’s touchdowns. He completed 21 of 39 passes for 262 yards with a pair of 39-yard touchdown passes. He added two more scores and 21 yards on the ground.
Top Defensive Performers
Nick Mangieri, DE, Indiana- Mangieri is having himself quite the season as he had another very solid performance versus Penn State. He recorded four tackles, two sacks, and a pass break up.
Zack Shaw, Bandit, Indiana- Shaw had a stellar performance with five tackles and 2.5 tackles for loss. The Hoosier defensive line got enough pressure on Hackenberg, but just couldn’t deliver the knock out blow.
Carl Nassib, DE, Penn State- Nassib blew up the Hoosiers offense as he accounted for four tackles, two sacks, and two forced fumbles. He was one of the primary reasons the Hoosiers could not get anything going on offense.
Marcus Allen, S, Penn State- Allen led the Nittany Lions with 9 tackles and 1.5 tackles for a loss.
Special Teams Performance
There was nothing wrong with the special teams performance today. It was possibly the best phase of the game for the Hoosiers. Indiana punter Erich Toth did an excellent job today punting 11 times and averaging over 40 yards per boot. Indiana even executed a great onside kick after their only touchdown. Mitchell Paige was once again good in the punt return game, but the kick return game continues to be an issue for the Hoosiers who are looking for something to spark the offense.
The average yards per play for the Hoosiers on Saturday afternoon. Not many football games will be won if an offense has this stat.
The turning point came early in the game when the Hoosiers looked as if they had forced a turnover deep in Penn State territory only to see it called back for an illegal use of hands penalty on Darius Latham. On the very next play Hackenberg hit Brandon Polk for a 39-yard touchdown to go up 7-0.
I Knew it Was Over When…
Penn State scored a touchdown to make it 26-7 with 10:37 left to play in the game.
Players of the Game
Zack Shaw, Bandit, Indiana- Shaw led the charge on defense with 2.5 tackles for loss, but it wasn’t enough as the Hoosiers offense mustered just seven points.
Christian Hackenberg, QB, Penn State- Hackenberg has a ton of talent and he showed what he is capable of today when he accounted for four touchdowns and led the Nittany Lions to a convincing win over IU.
What I took away from the game
Hope was in the air as both Nate Sudfeld and Jordan Howard were in uniform and on the field for warm-ups. However, that hope became nerves as backup quarterback Zander Diamont led the offense with Devine Redding out for Indiana’s first drive. So, it was pretty clear that neither Sudfeld nor Howard were 100 percent. Many fans took to Twitter to air their grievances about the lineup choice and said if they could warm up that they should be able to play. Wilson said after the game that he was not comfortable letting Sudfeld play because he probably could not protect himself. Indiana fans have to realize there is a bigger picture here. If Sudfeld played hurt and was injured further that the entire season could be washed away and the program would probably be in a spot where they would have to start anew. Personally, I do not know if Howard really makes too much of a difference if IU does not have a passing game.
The game was not pretty and the Hoosiers suffered another set back not only with the score, but when Zander Diamont was lost with a right shoulder injury. Third stringer Danny Cameron finished the game for the Hoosiers throwing for 65 yards with an interception (a ball that should’ve been caught by Anthony Corsaro). Cameron looked to throw a good ball, but takes a long time to load and let it rip.
The most important thing for the Hoosiers right now is to get healthy for Rutgers, because that game is absolutely HUGE for IU now. A win and you head to Michigan State 5-2 and into the open week at no worse than 5-3. A loss and this season could be going down hill fast. IU would looking at being 4-4 at the break.