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Indiana quarterback Tayven Jackson takes his helmet off during Indiana's loss to Ohio State on Sept. 2, 2023. (HN photo/Kallan Graybill)
Indiana quarterback Tayven Jackson takes his helmet off during Indiana's loss to Ohio State on Sept. 2, 2023. (HN photo/Kallan Graybill)

Indiana falls to Ohio State in a game that was anything but expected

The game featured two quarterbacks from each team, each competing for the starting job

Indiana opened its season with a 23-3 loss to No. 3 Ohio State, but this was far from your average football game. 

The game featured four quarterbacks, two from each team, each competing for the starting job at their respective schools. For Indiana, freshman Brendan Sorsby started the game but was quickly taken out after his first two series only netted seven yards. He was replaced by Tennessee transfer Tayven Jackson, who played out the rest of the first half. 

The most successful drive of the Hoosiers’ day came in the second quarter, which was led by Jackson. Following Philip Dunnam’s interception on an Ohio State fourth-down play, Jackson led Indiana on a seven-play drive that ended with Chris Freeman’s 42-yard field goal. That would prove to be the only score by the Hoosiers all afternoon. 

Despite Jackson’s first-half success, Sorsby had more opportunities in the passing game. He finished with 58 passing yards to Jackson’s 24, which occurred on his only completion of the game to Cam Camper. Neither Indiana quarterback separated himself from the others, but Indiana head coach Tom Allen seems to be taking his time in choosing a long-term starter. 

“When I said that we made our decision [on a starting quarterback], our decision was to play them both in the first two games,” Allen said. “Sorsby started this week, Tayven starts next week.” 

Ohio State started Kyle McCord for most of the game but was eventually replaced by Devin Brown for one three-and-out series before coming back in at the very end of the game. McCord passed for 239 yards on 33 attempts while Brown only had three passing attempts all game. 

While both Buckeye quarterbacks seemed to struggle, much of that can be attributed to Indiana’s defensive performance. The Hoosiers intercepted McCord in the second quarter and held Ohio State to just two of 12 on third down conversions. 

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Indiana quarterback Brendan Sorsby prepares to take a snap during Indiana's loss to Ohio State on Sept. 2, 2023. (HN photo/Kallan Graybill)

Western Michigan transfer Andre Carter, whom Allen has been raving about since he arrived in Bloomington, led the Hoosiers with two tackles for loss, including a third-down stop that forced a Buckeye punt. Despite the loss, Carter believed that Indiana’s defense showcased its potential.  

“It means a lot when you hold O-State to 23 points,” Carter said. “It meant a lot to our guys, and I feel like our guys are gonna keep their heads up, they’re not gonna be down about it. It’s gonna help us transfer on to prior weeks from now and excel.” 

Senior captain Aaron Casey led Indiana’s defense with 11 tackles, nine of those being solo stops. However, the secondary faced its hardest challenge of the season in trying to defend the Buckeyes’ receivers, specifically Marvin Harrison Jr., who poured in 135 yards and one touchdown on the Hoosiers last November. 

Saturday was a different day for Harrison Jr., as the consensus first-team All-American finished the game with only two catches for 18 yards. Harrison Jr. appeared to be injured after trying to make a catch on the sideline in the first half but eventually returned a few plays later. 

“I was really concerned about that matchup,” Allen said. “I know for a fact those receivers are special, and the one is probably the best we’ve ever gone against since I’ve been coaching in my entire career. Just to keep those guys in check was very critical.” 

In the coming weeks, Indiana should identify the type of team it is. The Hoosiers will host Indiana State next Friday, followed by a trip to Lucas Oil Stadium to play Louisville, rounding out their non-conference schedule by hosting Akron on Sep. 23.

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