Penn State may have had to sneak out of Iowa City with a win last week, but the Nittany Lions started fast in their return home to Beaver Stadium this week. Saquon Barkley added to his Heisman candidacy highlight reel by returning the game’s opening kick 98 yards for a touchdown and later added a nifty one-handed catch before taking off for a big gain as Penn State jumped out to a 28-0 lead on Indiana, but the Hoosiers have clawed back a little and only trail 28-14 at halftime.
Penn State scored 28 points in the first quarter, including a second score just a few minutes after Barkley’s kickoff touchdown. The Nittany Lions have scored 14 points off Indiana turnovers, including a short return on special teams by Nick Scott. Scott picked up a loose football after Irvin Charles knocked the ball out of the hands of Indiana’s J-Shun Harris II on a punt return. Scott needed just 13 yards on the return for a score.
Harris was slow to get up off the field on the play and has not returned to the game. Indiana also saw running back Morgan Ellison get helped off the field in the first half.
Indiana cut the lead in half late in the second quarter eight plays after a turnover by Penn State. After picking off a pass, Indiana’s Simmie Cobbs Jr. picked up an 18-yard touchdown reception from Peyton Ramsey to continue the chipping away at Penn State’s lead.
Despite getting off on the right foot in the first quarter, Penn State’s offense went into a shell in the second quarter as Indiana found ways to bring pressure on Trace McSorley. Toward the end of the first half, Penn State tight end Mike Gesicki took a shot to the ribs that required some medical assistance off the field. Penn State failed to score in the second quarter, while Indiana did all it could to chip away. The question in the second half is how long Indiana can keep Penn State from doing much damage, and if they can find enough offense to give Penn State a run.
For two quarters and some change, Kevin Wilson’s return to Indiana after a messy departure last year wasn’t going as smoothly as Ohio State new offensive coordinator would have wanted. For fans at home and in the stands, the same could be said of the team’s highly anticipated new look on offense, which sputtered early and often.
Then things just started to click for the Buckeyes in the third quarter and the No. 2 team in the country started living up to that preseason ranking, eventually pulling away from the Hoosiers for a comfortable 49-21 victory on Thursday night that opened the season and Big Ten play for both teams.
Quarterback J.T. Barrett wasn’t quite as sharp as some expected the senior to be but he still posted solid numbers (284 yards, three touchdowns passing plus another score on the ground) as he broke in several new receivers for OSU. Perhaps the biggest development for Urban Meyer’s team was the emergence of freshman tailback J.K. Dobbins, who may have Wally Pipped starter Mike Weber (hamstring) with 181 yards rushing and showed off plenty of nifty moves in the open field.
Like their counterparts on the other side of the ball, Ohio State’s defense also need a little time to get warmed up but ended up performing just as expected. The vaunted defensive line helped record five sacks while Jordan Fuller and Denzel Ward both picked off passes.
Though the final score may not have indicated it, the Hoosiers did have their moments in the debut of new head coach Tom Allen and actually led at halftime 14-13. They had numerous opportunities to make things even more interesting in the third quarter but failed to capitalize each time they had a shot at the lead, eventually giving way to a 29 point unanswered run that salted the game away for the visitors. Quarterback Richard Lagow did what he could running the quick tempo offense (40-of-65 — yes 65 attempts — for 410 yards, three scores and two interceptions) and hooked up several times for some highlight reel plays with wideout Simmie Cobbs (149 yards, one score). It wasn’t enough though and the lack of any ground game certainly hampered the offense down the stretch.
If you told somebody who didn’t watch the game that Ohio State won by four touchdowns over Indiana, they probably would think things went as expected in Bloomington before the second string entered the action. That wasn’t exactly the case to start for the Buckeyes but the end result was certainly something fitting for the second-ranked team in the country. It probably won’t be good enough next week as Oklahoma rolls into Columbus but that will be a story for another time.
A rough start to Simmie Cobbs‘ 2016 season has gotten decidedly rougher.
On the first play from scrimmage in Indiana’s 30-20 win over Ball State, Cobbs’ got rolled up on from behind and left the game with an ankle injury. The wide receiver was subsequently spotted on crutches on the sidelines and wearing a walking boot.
In his postgame talk with the media, Kevin Wilson indicated that Cobbs will not only likely require surgery, but he could very well miss the balance of the 2016 season.
“Simmie has an ankle injury that’s probably gonna require surgery. If that is what it is, we’ll see the timeline,” the head coach said according to the Indianapolis Star. “He played one play. Just rolled it up. A little bubble pass and when the guy went to make the tackle (Cobbs suffered the injury). That’s what it looked like when I saw it on TV.”
Last season, Cobbs led the Hoosiers with 60 receptions for 1,035 yards. After being named to the Biletnikoff Award watch list over the summer, this season began with a suspension for the opener against FIU.