Rapid Reaction: Ohio State stays unbeaten, stops Indiana hot streak
Indiana came into Ohio Stadium on Saturday as a surprising Big Ten title contender and the feisty, talented Hoosiers gave the Buckeyes everything they had.
The Ohio State Buckeyes showed why they’re still the B1G champion until somebody proves otherwise.
In a game with huge implications toward settling the Big Ten East Division title, OSU overcame some errors — Justin Fields was intercepted as many times in one afternoon as he was in 17 career games combined coming in — to take control of the East race again with a 42-35 victory.
It was the 26th consecutive time that Ohio State beat Indiana but this was the best of those games in a quarter of a century.
OSU (4-0) led 35-7 early in the second half but IU clawed back in it and got within 42-35 on Ty Fryfogle’s 56-yard TD reception from Michael Penix down the sideline in the fourth quarter.
The Hoosiers (4-1) stopped OSU on 4th and 1 deep in IU territory and took over with 4:39 left, 93 yards away from a potential tying touchdown. But OSU forced a quick 3-and-out and Indiana punted. OSU ate some clock and punted it back with 38 seconds left. IU took over again but never reached OSU territory.
The Buckeyes started the second half much like they ended the first, when they scored 21 points on their final three second-quarter drives. OSU began the third quarter by driving 75 yards in 6 plays, capped by Fields hitting Garrett Wilson for a 9-yard touchdown.
Fryfogle, an emerging star at wide receiver, had a 63-yard touchdown catch from Penix on the ensuing drive. Fryfogle, who had 200 receiving yards in his previous outing against Michigan State and 142 against Michigan, had 7 catches for 224 yards and 3 TDs vs. OSU.
OSU cornerback Shaun Wade picked off Penix and ran down the sideline for a 36-yard touchdown return to put OSU ahead 42-21 late in the third quarter.
David Ellis caught a 16-yard TD pass to get the Hoosiers within 42-28 early in the fourth quarter. Coach Tom Allen told FOX Sports that his team, down 28-7 at halftime, would keep fighting and show its character in the second half, and it sure did.
Penix had 491 yards and 5 TDs passing, both career highs. He had to carry the IU offense because the Hoosiers were getting zilch on the ground. Literally — Indiana had minus-1 yard rushing on 16 carries.
That was the big difference in the game: Indiana was utterly unable to run and Ohio State had very balanced offense, surpassing 300 yards both passing and rushing.
But Fields faced a bigger test than he had all season and the Hoosiers made him pay for his mistakes. In addition to the pickoffs, No. 9 Indiana, which entered the game with 12 sacks to lead the B1G, got to Fields five times on Saturday.
The third time IU picked off Fields, in the third quarter, came on an odd play. Fields seemed to be stopped but instead he fired downfield, only to be intercepted by Hoosiers defensive back Jamar Johnson for the second time. Johnson returned the ball to the OSU 16, only to have the ball knocked loose and for Buckeyes offensive lineman Thayer Munford to recover.
No. 3 Ohio State found itself in a 7-7 game into the second quarter, but the Buckeyes closed the first half on a 21-0 run. Fields spun and dove for a 9-yard touchdown run with 17 seconds left in the second quarter for a 28-7 OSU lead.
The Buckeyes also had their most impressive game on the ground this season. Master Teague busted loose for a 41-yard touchdown with 8:57 left in the second quarter to give the Buckeyes a 14-7 lead. That capped the second 75-yard TD drive of the first half for OSU. Teague had 169 yards and two scores on 26 carries.
To start the next drive, Trey Sermon took a similar-looking run 16 yards. Then Fields, under pressure on a dropback, shook loose for a 30-yard run. That led to Teague’s 2-yard TD run and a 21-7 lead.
The IU offense struggled early, failing on its first five 3rd-down conversion attempts. Penix finally hit a deep play in the second quarter, throwing deep to Miles Marshall down to the OSU 4. Two plays later, Penix hit Whop Philyor for a 4-yard tying score.
But the Hoosiers squandered some early opportunities, too. Late in the second quarter, Ellis caught a pass and got to the OSU 5 but he fumbled after a hit from OSU linebacker Pete Werner and Baron Browning recovered at the OSU 7-yard line.
The Buckeyes wasted no time on their first possession after an Indiana punt. Fields hit Wilson for a 65 yards on first down, then Fields hit Wilson again over the middle for a 10-yard touchdown. Wilson has started the season with 4 consecutive games over 100 yards receiving.
It was just the second time Indiana had ever been involved in a meeting of two top-10 teams. The other was the Rose Bowl on Jan. 1, 1968, when the No. 4 Hoosiers lost 14-3 to No. 1 USC.