Rapid reaction: Struggles for Michael Penix Jr., Indiana continue in loss to Cincinnati
Indiana’s offense is a serious issue.
Though the Hoosiers were in good shape in the first half of Saturday’s showdown against No. 8 Cincinnati, one too many mistakes from Indiana cost Tom Allen’s team a chance at a big-time upset in front of a sellout crowd at Memorial Stadium.
Michael Penix Jr. threw 3 interceptions and the Hoosiers ended the afternoon with 4 total turnovers in a 38-24 loss to the Bearcats to drop to 1-2 on the year. Cincinnati remains perfect at 3-0 with the road win.
Indiana jumped out to a 14-0 lead against Cincinnati on Saturday, an advantage it held until just 90 seconds remained in the second quarter. The Bearcats were able to manufacture a 9-play, 75-yard drive to cut the lead in half, then Penix tossed an interception on the following possession, allowing Luke Fickell’s squad to close the quarter on a 10-0 run.
That proved to be a costly mistake.
Cincinnati scored the first touchdown of the third quarter, taking its first lead at 17-14 on a 3-yard run from Jerome Ford. The two teams traded punches and Indiana retook a lead at 24-23 with just seconds remaining in the final quarter.
But that’s when IU’s hopes of an upset faded.
Bearcats quarterback Desmond Ridder hit Alec Pierce for a 19-yard touchdown pass that gave Cincinnati a 30-24 advantage. Indiana was never able to come back.
The Hoosiers did get one more opportunity to regain the lead with under 5 minutes to play in the fourth quarter, but Penix tossed his third interception of the day and Cincinnati’s offense was able to capitalize, making it a two-score game with less than 3 minutes in the contest.
Running the football had been an issue for IU heading into Saturday’s contest, but that wasn’t the case. The Hoosiers totaled 152 yards on the ground, led by Stephen Carr with 52 yards on 21 carries.
This week, Indiana squandered three opportunities inside the red zone that resulted in zero points and three turnovers. The Hoosiers fumbled, tossed a pick and had a turnover on downs on those three possessions, ultimately making a significant difference in the outcome.
Defensively, the Hoosiers are still playing at a high level. That’s a big reason Indiana had a shot to win, despite another dreadful day offensively.
If Indiana doesn’t figure out some things on the offensive side of the ball, and fast, the Hoosiers hopes of competing in the B1G East are going to evaporate quickly.