It was a baffling decision. Down 21-0, Indiana faced a fourth-and-six at the Penn State 13 with 1:26 remaining in the third quarter. There seemed to be no question Indiana would go for it in the hopes of eventually reaching the end zone to pull within two touchdowns. There was still an entire quarter to play, and although the Hoosiers offense had yet to produce any points, it wasn’t out of the realm of possibility they could put together another drive or two, or at least hope for a special teams or defensive touchdown, to tie the game, or heck, even take a shot to win in regulation with a two-point conversion.
Nope. Indiana chose to attempt a field goal, signaling they had basically given up all hope for a comeback.
I’m not sure where to begin with Tom Allen’s decision. It wasn’t fourth and forever - just six yards needed for a fresh set of downs and a chance to pull within two scores. Did he expect that Indiana could find the end zone three times in the fourth quarter? Did he somehow forget Indiana’s improbable win against the Nittany Lions last year when the Hooisers had about a 0.1% win probability late in the fourth quarter before a bizarre turn of events eventually led to one of the biggest wins in program history? I know we all would love to forget that game, but it felt like it had somehow been wiped from Allen’s memory.
Perhaps he just wanted to avoid the shutout? If that was the case, his plan backfired spectacularly. The 30-yard attempt was blocked by Brandon Smith as a herd of Nittany Lions bumrushed the Indiana field goal unit. Defensive tackle Derrick Tangelo scooped up the ball to essentially clinch the victory.
All hope for an Indiana rally was crushed, and the defense preserved the shutout anyways.