IU outplayed in 2nd half, falls to Ohio State 49-21

It happened again.

For nearly three full quarters, Indiana traded blows with a ranked opponent. The Hoosiers saw highlight-reel catches from their offensive playmakers, several key third-down stops by their defense and a packed stadium eager to fuel them to the momentous victory IU’s program has craved.

That kind of earthshaking win may yet come this fall, but it didn’t on Thursday.

No. 2 Ohio State outclassed Indiana in the second half, sending the Hoosiers to a 49-21 defeat in the season opener at sold-out Memorial Stadium.

The Buckeyes (1-0, 1-0 Big Ten) recorded 269 of their 596 total yards during the third quarter, scoring 29 unanswered points beginning with a 74-yard crossing route from Parris Campbell with 4:38 left in the period.

After Indiana (0-1, 0-1) held the Ohio State offense in check for more than a half, the Buckeyes popped during the final 30 minutes. In the second half, Ohio State posted three passing plays of 15-plus yards, including scores of 74 and 59 yards, and six running plays of 10-plus yards.

The Buckeyes, playing their first game under new offensive coordinator and former IU coach Kevin Wilson, appeared as talented as advertised.

“We just played a great football team,” new Indiana coach Tom Allen said. “I’ve coached in the (Southeastern Conference) and that’s the kind of team we used to play, especially the elite ones. The speed they have, the size they have is pretty special. Hats off to them. Disappointed in the finish, very proud of our start to the game and most of the third quarter. But there’s no consolation in that.”

While Ohio State made the most of its ample speed and athleticism, Indiana looked utterly one-dimensional on offense.

Quarterback Richard Lagow attempted a program-record 65 throws, relying on his skill players to move the Hoosiers downfield. It worked for two and a half quarters, but by the end of the night, Lagow was under heavy duress without a run component to ease the burden.

Of Indiana’s 437 total yards, all but 17 came through the air. IU’s running back-by-committee approach never found traction, with freshman Morgan Ellison finishing as Indiana’s leading rusher. He had 24 yards on seven carries.

IU’s offensive line did an OK job pass protecting during the first half, but it eventually wore down against an elite Ohio State defensive line with next-level talent across the board.

The Buckeyes may very well have the best defensive line the Hoosiers will see all year. Even so, Indiana’s O-line has its work cut out.

“They had a great defensive line, which is obviously something that we knew,” Lagow said. “Hats off to them, they played a great game. When it comes down to it, it was about us. Our execution at times wasn’t what it needed to be. That’s what it came down to.”

Lagow demonstrated clear improvement from where he ended last season. A talented group of receivers, including Simmie Cobbs, Donavan Hale, Luke Timian and tight end Ian Thomas certainly helped. Nick Westbrook may have also factored into that group, but he suffered a knee injury on the opening kickoff and did not return. He is scheduled to undergo an MRI on Friday.

Lagow threw for 410 yards, completing 40 passes with three touchdowns and two interceptions. Thomas caught two of those scores, including an 18-yard haul that put IU in front, 7-3, midway through the first quarter.

“We said all along that he was going to be a big part of what we wanted,” Allen said of Thomas. “Proud of the way he caught the football.”

The first half belonged to Indiana, which extended its lead to 14-6 on an eight-yard reception by Simmie Cobbs at the 8:12 mark of the second period. Cobbs started the game and was a major factor in IU’s hot start. He looked like an NFL talent for much of the night, setting a personal best with 11 receptions for 149 yards.

“He’s way better than he was before,” Allen said of Cobbs, who missed nearly all of last season with an injury. “He’s come back very motivated.”

Indiana took a 14-13 lead into halftime, leaning on big plays in the pass game and big stops from its defense. Ohio State converted only three of its 10 third-down tries through the first two quarters, ambling as quarterback J.T. Barrett struggled with his accuracy.

It was a good thing for the Buckeyes that freshman running back J.K. Dobbins was up to the challenge in his first college game. Dobbins danced and juked his way through IU’s defense, setting a Buckeyes’ freshman first-game record with 181 yards on 29 attempts.

As the third quarter wore on, the stops Indiana relied on early had disappeared.

Dobbins helped move the Buckeyes downfield during a 13-play, 85-yard drive that ended with a two-yard run by Barrett with seven minutes remaining in the third quarter.

IU receivers and running backs made several nice catches to help IU march to an answering score, a two-yard reception by Thomas.

But that was all from the Hoosiers.

It took only one play on the ensuing drive, a crossing pattern that led to a 74-yard score by Campbell to put the Buckeyes back in front and begin their run of 29 consecutive points to close the game.

“We’ve got to get some key stops (late),” Allen said. “We can’t give up those big plays. I’m a defensive coach. That’s on us.”

One comment

  1. One thing I want to see IU change is the speed they play as the game goes on. One of the best things Wilson did after talking to NFL coaches was to play at different speeds instead of fast all the time. Playing fast in the first half was good although I wonder about inserting Ramsey when Lagow was on fire. There were too many plays in the game for the defense to stay solid. 1st half IU drove the ball in fast spurts but gae the defense time to rest. 2nd half OSU changes defense and the offense struggles going 3 and out over and over. I would like to see them slow down after the second 3 and out to take time to figure out OSU adjustments. Once the offense starts clicking again then speed up the rate of running plays.

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