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52 Random Thoughts on Indiana

Random musings from the weekend that was in Bloomington

Penn State v Indiana Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

On Saturday afternoon, the Penn State Nittany Lions and the Indiana Hoosiers engaged in a contest of American football at Memorial Stadium in Bloomington, Indiana. The Nittany Lions emerged victorious, 45-31. I have some thoughts, which are randomly set forth below.

  1. Next time there’s a presidential election, can we please release the College Football Playoff Rankings on Monday or Wednesday? I feel like no one was able to enjoy the fact that Penn State became a top ten team because there was plenty of other news to keep our attention.
  2. Wait, Penn State is a top ten team? This is happening this year?
  3. This is happening this year.
  4. It’s interesting that there seemed to be less concern about this game than there was about Purdue. We heard lots about the potential hangover effects the Ohio State night game White Out might have on the team the following week in an early kick in the state of Indiana.
  5. This week, we heard basically nothing about the potential hangover effects that the Iowa night game White Out thrashing might have on the team the following week in an early kick in the state of Indiana.
  6. This Indiana team is a much better football team than Purdue, so there was reason to discuss it. Still, there was very little.
  7. Except, of course, at College Gameday. Did I hear that everyone except Kirk Herbstreit picked the Hoosiers? What in the world was that about?
  8. Remember the time when we were all concerned about Penn State’s slow starts on offense?
  9. Yeah, turns out that’s not a very reasonable criticism any longer. Against Maryland, Purdue, and Iowa, Penn State took the ball and drove right down the field for a touchdown. Against Ohio State, Penn State also had an extended drive with an opportunity for points. Unfortunately, that ended with the blocked field goal, Tyler Davis’ first ever miss. Still, starting 3 out of the last 4 games with a touchdown and putting the team in scoring position in all four is an impressive turnaround.
  10. That continued very nicely this week. 7 plays, 60 yards, and a touchdown.
  11. Indiana’s defense is no slouch. I can’t believe I just said that out loud.
  12. Still, Indiana’s defense is competent, and Penn State marched right down the field. You had to figure that was a good sign for the day.
  13. Miles Sanders again kicked things off with a nice return - 31 yards out to the 40. Here’s the thing - it’s not an extraordinary return, but all of that extra yardage does matter.
  14. Not to mention the fact that he got 31 yards after starting at the 9 yard line. Those extra 16 yards made it much easier to make that drive happen.
  15. That first series showed very clearly that Indiana was going to key in on Saquon Barkley and the running game all day. In order, Barkley ran for 0 yards, -1 yard, and -6 yards on the drive.
  16. He also caught a 32-yard pass up the right sideline, so maybe it’s not such a big deal.
  17. Saquon Barkley can hurt you in so many different ways that it’s scary. It’s exactly why he’s still at the head of the class for Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year despite a relatively unimpressive stat line over the weekend.
  18. Also, raise your hand if at any time during last year’s John Donovan fiasco you expected Penn State to have a leading contender for B1G Offensive Player of the Year.
  19. Put your hands down, liars.
  20. Seemed like there was a good opportunity to score over the next several series, but Penn State just could not make anything happen. Truly #PUNTWEEK against our most hated rivals was on in the first half.
  21. If yesterday morning you had told me that Indiana would turn the ball over 5 times and Penn State would win by double digits, that would have seemed right to me. How we got there is an entirely different discussion.
  22. I’m not overly impressed with Richard Lagow. Devine Redding seemed to me to be the most consistent and dangerous player on the field for the Hoosiers.
  23. Brock Huard and Bob Wischusen sparring over the Jets, and, more specifically, Christian Hackenberg at quarterback, made me both laugh and shake my head. Good work for defending Gang Green, Bob.
  24. For those of you who don’t know, Bob is the voice of Jets radio broadcasts. He’s one of my favorite announcers out there.
  25. Would have been very happy to walk into the half at 14-7. I thought there was potential for 17-7 or 21-7. That 14-up score dampened my spirits a bit.
  26. That first pick was ugly and well defensed. Thompkins wasn’t even open there.
  27. I still thought the defense might hold after Garrett Sickels and Evan Schwan met in Lagow’s grill on 2nd down, but alas, it was not to be.
  28. Seriously, though, Evan Schwan has been a revelation this year. Those are solid bookends on the defensive line.
  29. Remember how we were all concerned about replacing one of the most dominant defensive lines in Penn State history? Turns out that this one just needed a little bit of time to get up to speed.
  30. These are exactly the kinds of games that get away from teams. Blown scoring opportunities and untimely turnovers allow teams to stick around and make something happen.
  31. In that vein, I was having visions of 2008 Iowa. That was, apparently, not indicative of this Big Ten game. Instead, I was apparently channeling a game that would kick off at 8:00 p.m. in Iowa City.
  32. You have to take it as Gospel that Penn State is going to come out of the locker room at halftime with an altered game plan that will shut down the opposition.
  33. You can then imagine how stressful it was to watch this team give up points and a turnover to start the second half.
  34. What the heck happened on that second half pick? Did he overthrow Hamilton?
  35. I was a little concerned with how predictable we were becoming this week. Tommy Stevens comes into the game? He’s getting the ball. Miles Sanders comes in? He’s getting the ball. Andre Robinson comes in? He’s getting the ball.
  36. Is there something going on with the punting game and the relationship between the long snapper and Blake Gillikin’s hands that should have me worried?
  37. We finally put together a classic PSU ‘16 drive in the third quarter. Nice return by Sanders, 43 yard pass to Saeed Blacknall, 21 yard pass to Chris Godwin, who looked like the toughest receiver in the country coming down with that pass. Odd that it took us so long to get there, but I’ll take a 4 play, 70+ yard drive any time I can get it.
  38. The defense must have sensed the tipping point, because they came to play on the next series. Three-and-out and the loss of a yard was huge.
  39. This is where teams get in sync with each other. The offense finally puts one on the board in the second half, the defense feeds off the energy, and then the offense rewards them with a touchdown.
  40. If McSorley had led DaeSean Hamilton just a little more on that flea flicker, he scores easily.
  41. Of course, we’re talking about a flea flicker, so, you know, take the 54 yards.
  42. Lost in the shuffle of that huge play was the fact that Barkley looked like Barkley again on this drive. He kicked off the series with runs of 12 and 5 yards, then finished it off with a 4 yard touchdown.
  43. Keep giving him the ball and good things happen. It only takes one to change the dynamics of the entire game.
  44. Is Zander Diamont graduating any time soon? He drives me crazy.
  45. Barkley’s 2 yard touchdown run to put Penn state up for good was a hard nosed run. The most impressive on that drive though, was the 13 yard gain on second down. The kid got hit for the first time at the 15 yard line and didn’t stop until 4 defenders gang tackled him at the 3.
  46. Smart timeout by Franklin on that drive. You wish he didn’t have to take it there, but losing 5 yards when you’re on the doorstep could have been a drive killer.
  47. You have to give so much credit to the coaching staff for handling this team the right way. To be down so many offensive lineman and still find a way to score 38 points is nothing short of impressive.
  48. Who doesn’t love a good defensive lineman score?
  49. We haven’t spoken at all about the linebackers, so let’s talk about Brandon Bell, who ended this game. There’s plenty of time left to talk about Torrence Brown, but let’s make sure Brandon Bell gets his just due.
  50. You just have to love the guts of this team. That they’re just a few short weeks away from a possible Big Ten East title is a great accomplishment. Let’s finish it off in the home stretch.
  51. On to Rutgers.
  52. We are ...