Good evening from Ann Arbor, where the Indiana Hoosiers yet again came out and surprised people, but still fell short. Taking this one as a whole, it’s certainly got to be an encouraging performance for fans ahead of next week’s Bucket Game in Bloomington, which will, after all, determine Indiana’s bowl eligibility once again. Much more to come on our end tonight, but for the time being, here are my instant takeaways.
Indiana is aggressive enough and still gets outplayed
It’s wild how this game goes. Though it resulted in a win, Indiana’s lackluster performance at home against Maryland last Saturday left many fans feeling agitated and concerned for what was to come. Not just concerned for tonight in Ann Arbor, but even more so for Purdue. Tonight, though a loss, was a far different narrative. The Hoosiers did more things right than wrong and still couldn’t get the job done. It’s partly indicative of just how this season has gone for Indiana at times, and partly due to Michigan truly coming alive and playing a far better second half of football.
Tom Allen has talked about this team having a window in every game — an opportunity to capitalize. Midway through tonight’s affair, his team certainly saw that window once again, and couldn’t cash in. A 23-yard field goal from the foot of Jake Moody might’ve put it out of reach. Peyton Ramsey and the Indiana offense did what everyone expected them to do tonight. Once the run game was successfully established early on with Stevie Scott, Ramsey proceeded to take shots, finding Nick Westbrook on multiple occasions in huge moments. And it came without emptying the playbook. For the first time since possibly Ohio State in early October, the Hoosier offense possessed an identity, and, though a loss, that’s got to be encouraging ahead of Purdue next Saturday. Indiana’s sophomore quarterback finished going 16-for-35, throwing for 195 yards and a score. Ramsey once again asserted himself as a mobile threat too, pitching in 51 total yards on the ground.
Hoosiers can’t sustain run game late
It started strong, but tapered almost exponentially in the second half. Otherwise, tonight’s result might’ve been maybe even slightly different. Reiterating the importance of the offense’s identity tonight, Indiana called plays with a purpose early on. Stevie Scott, patient as ever, found gaps in what still is one of the best defenses, if not the best, in the nation. From there, it was Peyton Ramsey’s game. Indiana might have caught the Big Ten’s strongest defense on an off night, but it’s not to say that Indiana didn’t do some things really well too. It really goes to show how pivotal Scott’s role is on this 2018 team, and likely how pivotal his role will be for the coming three seasons. The freshman finished the night with 139 yards and a score on 30 attempts.
The second half was a different story, Indiana compiling just three points all half long. Michigan upped the intensity more than a few notches, but didn’t altogether prevent the Hoosiers from being able to do what they had done in the first half hour of play. It just simply couldn’t be upheld.
An improved response from Indiana
Of course Michigan wasn’t going to let IU simply run away with it, even when the Hoosiers held the lead tonight in Ann Arbor. When the Wolverines refused to let up, Indiana continued to answer, another encouraging sign ahead of next week. Almost immediately, Michigan began to win the battle up front. Even then, Indiana continued to build, which hasn’t always been easy this year for the Indiana. The defense (for the most part) held when it needed to and gave Peyton Ramsey the opportunities he needed to make something happen. In the end, he just couldn’t.