It was a weird performance for the Hoosiers. Michael Penix was special at times – throwing for 326 yards and a score – but the freshman also threw two picks that helped Ball State stay alive. For good and for bad, Penix also led the team with 67 rising yards.
The Hoosier O line didn’t generate enough of a steady push. It wasn’t awful – it didn’t allow much in the backfield – and Penix made up for several issues with his mobility, but Stevie Scott was stuffed way too often. He ran for two scores, but he couldn’t break free for anything big.
The defense was able to do a decent job against the Cardinal ground game, but it struggled on third downs and got hit for a few too many big pass plays, allowing touchdowns from 45 and 36 yards away to keep it a one-score game late. IU got the double-digit win, but this was hardly an air-tight victory – that’s what Week 1 against Ball State is for.
The offense didn’t work. Really? Outgained 314 yards to 276? The Huskers got big plays out of the defense and special teams to get out of this alive, but the running game didn’t go anywhere, the passing attack stalled, and it was an ugly game that’s going to be a big, big concern going into the Colorado game. Of course the O will come around, but Adrian Martinez didn’t look right – he wasn’t as decisive as he was over the second half of last year.
Where were the explosive offensive plays? There was one nice pass that opened it up a little bit, but this was a ragged overall performance that wasn’t close. Martinez ran for just six yards, and the only rushing pop kicked in once Maurice Washington came into the game in the second half. The O didn’t do enough when he was in, though.
The defense wasn’t perfect, but it generated five takeaways and bailed the offense out of the fire time and again – take that as the big positive here. The offense is going to be fine in time, and Martinez will be great, so as long as the D is coming up with big things, all will be fine. It was a win – remember, it took a while for Nebraska to get that last year.
Idaho might be awful, but that’s still exactly what Penn State needed and wanted to do. Sean Clifford was able to bomb away without any worry – completing 14-of-23 passes for 280 yards and two scores with 57 rushing yards. The Nittany Lion offense took target practice with 342 passing yards and 331 on the ground.
It took a wee bit to get it all going. The offense needed a few drives before it was sharp, and then it was an avalanche. The attack showed off the depth of the backfield; there might not be a Saquon Barkley or Miles Sanders, but there was no shortage of options. KJ Hamler caught four passes for 115 yards and two scores.
To nitpick … the O only converted one of eight third down tries. It’s hard to argue when the D allows just four rushing yards and was up 44-0 at halftime, but the Nittany Lions can be even stronger. That’s what the Buffalo game is for next week.