Fully a third of the way into the season, Indiana is making a change at quarterback.
The Hoosiers will replace fifth-year senior Richard Lagow with redshirt freshman Peyton Ramsey, head coach Tom Allen announced Monday.
The way Allen spoke Monday made it sound like Ramsey wasn’t simply the starter for Saturday’s game with Charleston Southern, but for the rest of the season and beyond.
“We (will) build our offense around what Peyton does best; the throws he can make, will make,” Allen told the Indianapolis Star. “We’ve got to build what we do from Day 1 around the strengths of what Peyton brings.”
Lagow started all four games thus far, though Ramsey saw action in each of them. Lagow has completed 58-of-103 passes (56.3 percent) for 661 yards (6.4 per attempt) with four touchdowns against three interceptions. Lagow’s 117.19 quarterback rating places him 11th in the Big Ten among all qualifying players. Ramsey has connected on 28-of-49 passes (60.4 percent) for 316 yards (6.6 per attempt) with four touchdowns and one pick while ranking second on the club with 34 carries for 117 yards and a touchdown. Lagow is not a threat on the ground.
Indiana sits at 2-2 after falling 45-14 at No. 4 Penn State on Saturday. IU sits firmly in the thick of a hunt for a bowl trip at 6-6. Assuming the Hoosiers beat Charleston Southern and take care of Illinois (on the road) and Rutgers (at home) later in the season, Indiana would still need to beat one of Michigan, Michigan State, Maryland, Wisconsin or Purdue to reach a bowl. (Indiana only has 11 chances this season after losing a likely victory against Florida International due to Hurricane Irma.)
It’s clear from the numbers and the coaches’ eyes that Ramsey gives them the best chance to get there.
Penn State running back Saquon Barkley may not have had a dynamite day running the football, but he once again demonstrated how lethal he can be in other ways. Barkley returned the game’s opening kickoff 98 yards for a touchdown and threw a touchdown pass in the fourth quarter as No. 4 Penn State (5-0, 2-0 Big Ten) started fast and finished strongly against Indiana (2-2, 0-2 Big Ten) in a 45-14 win.
Barkley carried the football 20 times but was limited to 56 yards by the Indiana defense. But Barkley added four catches for 51 yards and completed a 16-yard pass to DaeSean Hamilton on top of his 98-yard kick return for 221 all-purpose yards. Hamilton also made some Penn State history by becoming the school’s all-time leading receiver with 180 career receptions. He also scored three touchdowns in the game. Trace McSorley had a somewhat rough outing but still managed to end the game with 315 passing yards and a pair of touchdowns through the air, and he added one rushing touchdown as well.
Outside of the first quarter, in which Penn State put a 28-0 lead on the board, the Hoosiers played fairly well. But four turnovers proved to be too much against Penn State, with three turnovers leading to a Penn State touchdown. The Hoosiers also seemed to make a switch at quarterback from Richard Lagow (7-of-15, 97 yards) to Peyton Ramsey (8-of-17, 78 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT). Lagow may have gotten banged up but he continued to toss the football on the sideline in the second half alongside Ramsey.
Penn State will be back on the road for the second time in three weeks of Big Ten play. The Nittany Lions head to Evanston to face Northwestern next Saturday afternoon. The Wildcats are coming off a road loss at Wisconsin and have won each of the past two meetings with Penn State (2014, 2015). James Franklin is 0-3 against Pat Fitzgerald, including one loss while the head coach of Vanderbilt.
Indiana will get a chance to get back in the win column next week when they return home to host FCS Charleston Southern in Bloomington. After that, Indiana will host the Michigan Wolverines on Oct. 14.
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.
Penn State head coach James Franklin raised some eyebrows this offseason when he announced that running back Saquon Barkley was going to be returning kickoffs in certain situations this season. If Franklin was going to insist continuing to use his best offensive player in such situations, then it was only a matter of time before Barkley managed to break one loose for a big return.
It finally happened.
Barkley returned the opening kickoff against Indiana in Beaver Stadium 98 yards for a touchdown, giving Penn State a lightning fast 7-0 lead.
This was Penn State’s first kickoff return for a touchdown since Chaz Powell returned one against Indiana State in 2011.
It didn’t take long for Penn State to get back on the scoreboard. After an early Indiana fumble, Trace McSorley pushed one across the goal line to build a 14-0 lead just a couple of minutes later.
Given the current climate both politically and sports-wise, this may have come at a good time for everyone.
On September 30, 1967, Nate Northington played for the Kentucky Wildcats in a game against the Ole Miss Rebels at the old Stoll Field in Lexington. It was a historic moment as it marked the first time that an African-American played for one SEC team against another team from the conference.
One week before, against the Indiana Hoosiers, the cornerback broke the SEC color barrier by playing against the Big Ten school.
Northington breaking the SEC vs. SEC color barrier was tinged with sadness, however, as Greg Page, a fellow African-American who signed with UK in 1966 along with Northington, died exactly one day before the Ole Miss game from a neck injury he had sustained during a drill in a late-August practice.
“The seeds of change planted by these men and so many others have blossomed today into hundreds of opportunities in every SEC sport and in the academic programs of our universities,” said SEC commissioner Greg Sankey in a statement. “Those who endured in the early moments of change serve as reminders of our mutual responsibility to support opportunities for today’s young people, make certain we foster their education and graduation, and bring together our communities through our universities and athletics programs.”
The anniversary of the groundbreaking integration will be commemorated throughout the league in Week 5. From the conference’s release:
The Southeastern Conference will commemorate the event with a one-minute video message that will air during every SEC football game on CBS and all ESPN platforms on Saturday. The video, titled “Together, It Just Means More,” will include a tribute to Northington as well as Vanderbilt’s Perry Wallace. who broke the color-barrier in SEC men’s basketball the same year, plus imagery from all 14 institutions.