Crossroads College Football: Hoosiers Struggle in Absence of Michael Penix Jr.

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From 1991 to 2019, the Indiana Hoosiers have lost 24 consecutive games to the Ohio State Buckeyes.

Yes, that was read correct, the Buckeyes have reigned over the series for 29 years. However, as Hoosier fans painfully know, there have been plenty of instances where the Hoosiers have kept the game close, only to crumple in the end. While this stands true for a handful of games, it’s important to note the Buckeyes’ average margin of victory over the Hoosiers has been a whopping 21 points since November 16, 1991. Although in recent memory, the barn burning heartbreaker of 2012 (52-49) or the crushing loss in 2015 (34-27) have given Hoosier fans hope that the monstrous task of downing a giant will one day come to fruition.

Unfortunately for the Hoosiers, 2019 was not the year. Before the game started, it was reported that starting quarterback Michael Penix Jr. would be missing the game due to an undisclosed injury. Therefore, former starting quarterback Peyton Ramsey took the role for the weekend. With Ramsey under center, the Hoosier offense struggled. Ramsey only managed to throw for 162 yards and an interception, ending with an 11.1 QBR. As a unit, the Hoosier offense converted on only 3 of their 17 third-down attempts. The running game was virtually nonexistent with a total of 42 yards. On the other side of the ball, defense was a nightmare. Not only did they allow 51 points, but they let Buckeye running back J.K. Dobbins rush for 193 yards off 22 carries. In fact, the reserve running back, Master Teague III, was able to run for 106 off 10 carries. Quarterback Justin Fields also got in on the action, throwing for 199 yards and 3 touchdowns in the 51-10 victory.

For a team that often competes fairly well against Ohio State, this game was a disaster from start to finish, albeit without Pennix. Through two weeks, Pennix was able to put up fairly respectable numbers. Thus far, he’s thrown for 523 yards, 3 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. He's completed 63% of his passes and maintains a quarterback rating of 146.4. He’s also had a mild impact running the ball with 79 yards off 9 attempts. More importantly, he (mostly) led the Hoosiers to a 2-0 start with a 34-24 win over Ball State and a 52-0 win over Eastern Illinois, a game he was removed from due to injury.

The Hoosiers’ victories may not have been of fantastic value, but they’re important nonetheless. It’s clear after the blowout why Tom Allen decided to choose Penix Jr. as the starter; he gives the Hoosiers the best opportunity to win. 

With a winnable game upcoming against Connecticut, the Hoosiers get a mild break before conference play resumes. However, with Penix Jr. still questionable to play, the game will be a testament to who the Hoosiers really are. 

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