4 things we learned from IU’s win over Ball State

1. Peyton Ramsey is showing why he was the smart choice.
The redshirt sophomore has been as efficient as can be through the first three weeks, and ranks first in the Big Ten — and seventh nationally — with a completion percentage of 73.7. That’s highly effective work from Ramsey, who also helped keep IU’s offense moving Saturday with his feet on the way to rushing for 43 yards on six carries with one touchdown.

Ramsey tossed a couple really well-placed balls through tight windows during Saturday’s first half, while playing within both himself and the offense for the duration of his outing. There are few frills about his skill set, and that’s fine. At this point, it seems you know what you’re going to get from Ramsey.

Although it’s debatable whether he’ll be able to consistently stretch — and stress — bigger, better and faster defenses in the weeks to come, it’s hard to argue with how he’s fit into Indiana’s offense this month.

2. The defense has been worth the wait.
In each of IU’s first three games, its defense has been slow to sizzle.

It started with a Week 1 trip to Florida International, where the Panthers gashed their way to a touchdown on their second possession. In each of the past two games, Virginia and Ball State have produced points on the opening series, combining for average scoring drives of 12 plays and 66 yards.

From there, and particularly during those past two games, the Hoosier defense has been stout.

IU gave up some chunk yards to Ball State, which produced eight runs of at least 10 yards. But the Hoosiers were largely able to keep the Cardinals’ offense in front of them. Indiana was especially tough on third down, holding Ball State to a mere 28.6 percent (4-for-14) conversion rate.

Bottom line, allowing 10 points is a significant accomplishment, no matter the level of competition. During the past two weeks, Indiana’s defense has settled in, while appearing able and willing to make adjustments, as needed.

3. J-Shun Harris is not only back, but he’s playing at a high level.
Three ACL injuries. Three comebacks. Three punts returned for touchdowns.

J-Shun Harris’ wild ride through college football saw another positive chapter created Saturday when he returned a second-quarter punt 86 yards for a score. It would’ve been completely understandable to see Harris step away from football after suffering his third ACL tear last October. And trust him, there were moments not long after his 2017 season ended when Harris fully entertained the thought.

But this game — this program — means too much to Harris for him to put away his cleats.

Harris, who joined the Hoosiers in 2014, is an example of how far an upbeat outlook can drive a young person. He’s an inspiration to those inside Indiana’s locker room and beyond for his refusal to let bad luck define him. IU coach Tom Allen awarded the game ball to Harris after Saturday’s win, a fitting tribute to a young man who simply doesn’t want to stop playing football in Bloomington.

4. IU’s rushing attack inspires optimism.
It didn’t matter who was carrying the ball — a running back, receiver or quarterback — the Hoosiers’ offensive line opened the holes and created the push they needed.
Tom Allen wanted his offense to record at least 250 yards rushing against Ball State. With 255 yards, Indiana checked that goal off its list. The offensive line deserves a ton of credit for making it happen.

So, too, does Stevie Scott.

With back-to-back 100-yard games, the freshman running back is proving to be an effective battering ram for the Hoosiers. Scott’s 388 yards this season rank second in the Big Ten and eighth nationally. He’s also only three yards behind Oregon State’s Jermar Jefferson for the national lead among freshmen.

Perhaps the Hoosiers’ best rushing test of the season awaits on Saturday against Michigan State, which has held its first two opponents to only 1.28 yards per carry.

WHAT’S NEXT: No. 24 Michigan State at Memorial Stadium, Saturday, 7:30 p.m., BTN.
The Spartans had a week to digest a 16-13 loss at Arizona State and make adjustments before heading to IU. Michigan State is off to an uneven 1-1 start, opening the season with a seven-point home victory over Utah State. The Spartans face questions about their offensive line and their secondary ahead of this week’s trip to Memorial Stadium, where the Hoosiers briefly reclaimed the Old Brass Spittoon after their win over MSU in 2016.

26 comments

  1. Ramsey’s going to have to “air it out” if IU is going to score enough points to beat MSU. He’s done a great job so far, but now the competition becomes much better than any team IU has faced this year. Since IU’s defense is not going to shut down MSU’s offense, Ramsey is going to have to have a great night and generate a lot of points.

    This IU team can beat MSU. Go Hoosiers!

    1. Purdue went with the ‘air-it-out”, 588 air yards…………. has IU ever had as many potential weapons as this year?

  2. PR throws at a clip over 70%. He has a quality cadre of receivers, young aggressive TE’s and an OL capable of offering protection. The decision to “air it out” is DeBord’s. Clearly Peyton executes the plays called

  3. I think if IU has PR continue as he has been…stretch field from side to side, punch down field with TE, and use Donovan Hale and Nick Westbrook over the middle; use Stevie Scott & Ronnie Walker, Jr. IU will need complete game from all facets…running, passing, offense, defense & especially special teams. East Lansing newspapers still say MSU’s OL is suspect and defensive backs as well. Let’s Go Hoosiers!!

  4. This game sets up as a big win for IU not as in an easy win but a win against one of the “big” dawgs of the B1G. Just comparing last year’s team to this years team seems to favor IU. Our offense is much better this year which would have finished off MSU lat year. Our defense isn’t as shut down as it was at MSU last year, most of the game, but have shown it isn’t much of a drop off from our defense last year.

    IU will be challenged and there isn’t much room for success with mistakes made. IU needs to improve this game just as they have done each game this year. We need to take advantage of all our weapons this game and play solid defense against their offense. It will help for our defense to create some take-aways this game. This is another chance for IU to step up in the football world and not let it slip away like so many times in the recent past. This team has shown a different approach to the game and could come away with a big victory.

  5. against one of the “big” dawgs of the B1G

    v13- Didn’t we defeat MSU a couple years ago(2016 in OT)….? And MSU has been struggling against pretty mediocre teams this year. I don’t know if this is a “big” dawg….Certainly a better team than we’ve been facing but OSU/Michigan/PSU = Big Dawg.

    I consider a ‘signature win’ for the program to be one against OSU, Michigan, or PSU.

    1. Harvard, no one cares what you consider a “signature win”! If, when, IU beats MSU this Saturday, it is a “signature” win! But not the end of the road. GO IU!

  6. V- i couldn’t agree more. This is a big game. This a breakthrough game. MSU is not a dominant team. IU has a better running game (LJ Scott is injured), better offensive line, better defensive secondary and probably better special teams as the MSU punter is hurt and J-Shun Harris is back. IU is at home and needs to win. MSU is getting 4.5 points not because of talent but because of the history of this series. IU is the better team and needs to show it on Saturday. I called J-Shun Harris to have a big week last week. This week our receivers have to step up. MSU will gear up to stop and punish Stevie Scott. That will give one-on-one opportunities against a not very talented MSU secondary. IU doesn’t need to do anything extraordinary. If they play like they did against Ball State and win the turnover battle, they will win.

  7. If MSU is not a dominant team, then how is it a “breakthrough” game?

    Maybe if it’s on the road….”Breakthrough” means taking down OSU, Michigan, or Penn State. That’s, at minimum, equaling a short-lived day under Mallory. If MSU at home is the standard, Wilson already broke through in 2016.
    Heads will turn and eyes will open wider if IU Football ever does anything more than “close but no cigar’ against the “Big Three’ of the BigTen East.

      1. Check with Chet….It can’t be too difficult and you’ve already proven you can count to one-hundred twenty three. I believe that was my number of credit hours completed at IU (all in HYER classes). We have something in common!
        Anywho, Chet is a Scoop expert at proclaiming an ‘unsubscribed status’ while still additively reading yours truly and being almost as snidely in his responses(I say “almost” in jest..because I am CJ, the Scoop ‘Court Jester,’ from Jesterton, Indiana). But you’re off to a great start! UNSUBSCRIBE NOW!zaaaaaaaaaaaaa
        (my cat just jumped on my keyboard and typed those extra letters. He is now blogging. Anything is pawssible).

  8. H4H, you are right if MSU has another down year but they are expected to win 10 games once again. When you look at the B1G championships MSU is a better program than UM; even going head to head MSU has beaten UM time and time again.

    When IU wins it will only be a break through win if MSU goes on to have a very good year as they are expected to do. I would love to see IU beat UM at Ann Arbor and beat PSU at home but right now I want to focus on MSU.

  9. v13- You still da man. MSU really needs the ‘W’ after the loss to Arizona State. Breakthrough…or no breakthrough, IU will have their work cut out for them. It would be a big win considering MSU has already put their backs somewhat to the wall.
    Thanks…as always for your input and respectful responses.

  10. One game does not a breakthrough season make. As it stands a 2018 IU football breakthrough season is to win more big ten games than lose. Minimum 5 wins on big ten schedule = 8 wins for 2018 pickum big ten wins.

    1. I think that is optimistic but fair. If it is to be a paradigm change the Hoosiers need to defeat at least one of the big boys.

  11. Is one game’s result a breakthrough? Is the end of season record a break through? I think it’s safe to say that everyone’s definition of “breakthrough” is different. IU football hasn’t started 4-0 since 1990. A win this Saturday constitutes a breakthrough in my book. A mini breakthrough? Perhaps. But in the long run it will go a long way into shaping the rest of the season.

  12. A break through game is only one if it leads to the team to knock off one of the other “big” teams in B1G East. We won’t know until the season is over but until then we can see MSU game as a break through game. We might be disappointed like in 2016 but until the season shows that I will see a win against as a big win.

    Can you imagine if IU can beat MSU and then later UM in Ann Arbor; it would really upset the B1G and should really help recruiting.

  13. 5 big ten wins without knocking off OSU, Penn State, or Mich vs 3 big ten wins beating only OSU, Mich, and Penn State?
    Of course IU wants 5 big ten wins along with a major win over one of the big dogs. IU wants to win every game one at a time.

  14. “Breakthrough?”…I like ‘legit”…”legitimate”…”legitimize” …”legitimization.”

    Every incremental victory step outside of soft non-conference teams functions to legitimize a program that has rarely been taken seriously by any top teams from our conference. To belong on the same field for four quarters in a rare upset may be a breakthrough, but only sustained competitiveness and victories over teams we have historically had little chance will turn IU Football into a program perceived as legit.

    Basketball analogy? When Crean defeated UK in Assembly it was celebrated and seen as a breakthrough win against a consistently strong team. But only deep NCAA trips legitimize a coach/program. Extremely soft non-conference scheduling and overselling of “upsets” as indicative of a program turnaround/”breakthrough” is often used to cover deeper flaws that will hinder sustainable success(poor teaching/coaching, lack of in-state recruiting, lack of acknowledgment by coaching peers, maturity needed in pressure situations, etc).

    I think “breakthrough” is being used as a tagline to rush Allen “through.” But I think we get ahead of ourselves because of personal biases surrounding a coach’s ideologies, enthusiasm, purported “love” for Indiana, etc. I think many IU fans are learning the hard way…At least, I hope they are learning based on the taglines that have duped us in recent times: “Win Today”….”Everything Hinges”….”Hoosier Rising”….”It’s Indiana”…”The Movement”….and now “Breakthrough.”

    I simply don’t remember much in the way of catchy marketing when teams are dominant and winning. Confident coaches of strong teams don’t need empty marketing and taglines. They simply kick butt one game at a time.

  15. My definition of a “breakthrough” for IU Football is to produce a winning season. I’ll take 7 – 6, but securing the winning season before you go to a bowl game would be much better! Since we have not done so in a decade, any way we get to a winning season, especially since we’re not playing any FCS schools this year, is in relative terms, a breakthrough for IU Football. A winning season will improve recruiting, maybe improve attendance at home games, and put an end to the negative narrative about IU Football. Two years from now, no one in the general public will care how IU achieved a winning season, they will only remember that 2018 was a winning season.

  16. And by the way, if we are to achieve seven wins before we go to a bowl game, that means we’ll have to beat four Big Ten teams. That would be a major accomplishment for this young team. Chances are, we’re not going to defeat OSU, PSU or Michigan (we might beat Michigan) this season, so we have to be at our best against the non-elite conference teams like MSU.

  17. Breakthrough game Breakthrough season
    Breakthrough decade (10 year)
    Breakthrough era (how many)
    Breakthrough tradition (a long time)
    Currently, as IU football head coach T.A. has highest winning percentage in IU football history at 8 wins 7 losses (8 losses counting 2016 bowl game) including all games. IU needs a head coach to retire with winning record plus winning record in big ten. Could T.A. be the one?

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