IU fell short of a breakthrough victory once again Saturday as it suffered its fourth loss of the season in a 33-28 loss to No. 18 Penn State.
A big game from freshman running back Stevie Scott wasn’t enough to push IU over the line. Missed opportunities and special teams mistakes plagued IU once again.
Here’s what you need to know about the Hoosiers' loss to the Nittany Lions.
1. Trace McSorley was a one-man wrecking crew
A week after playing one of his least effective games of the season, senior quarterback Trace McSorley was phenomenal Saturday.
Even though he was limited to just 220 passing yards, McSorley was Penn State’s best runner, carrying the ball 19 times for 107 yards and two scores in his final game against IU.
“I’m glad we’re not going to see him again,” IU Coach Tom Allen said. “He’s a tough, tough kid that can beat you with his legs and with his arm.”
After a less than ideal first half in which he was sacked three times and threw an interception, McSorley bounced back with a nearly immaculate second half. He completed 11 of his 16 pass attempts and rushed for two touchdowns. McSorley’s ability to do damage with both his arm and his legs proved to be a problem for the IU defense, and, at times, IU seemed powerless to stop him.
“It gets kind of hard at times,” junior defensive lineman Allen Stallings IV said. “You never know which way he’s going to run or which way he’s going to break out of the pocket.”
2. Stevie Scott had his best game against a conference opponent.
After getting off to a slow start in conference play, Stevie Scott was the standout performer on the offensive side of the ball for IU. Scott eclipsed the 100-yard mark for the first time during conference play, and his 26 carries were his biggest workload since week two against Virginia.
“I knew this would be a good running game,” Scott said. “With the wind affecting the passing game, Coach just gave me my shot and I ran with it.”
Behind Scott’s strong performance, IU’s offense rolled up 554 total yards, passing the 550-yard mark for the first time since 2016. Allen said this was a result of improved offensive line play, as the Hoosier attack was able to move the ball with relative ease for the first time since the beginning of conference play.
“I thought the offensive line played well, especially running the football,” Allen said. “And I thought Stevie Scott just ran with a different sense of urgency.”
3. Poor special teams play cost IU yet again
Coming off a poor week against Iowa, the IU special teams unit was looking for some much needed improvement. Even though the Hoosiers snuffed out a fake punt and blocked an extra point, the special teams play left a lot to be desired.
Both senior Johnathan Thomas and freshman KJ Hamler had kickoff returns of over 50 yards for Penn Sate, and Penn State was able to convert the good field position into touchdowns on both occasions.
“I thought special teams really hurt us today,” Allen said. “To me, that’s the one glaring bad spot. I thought the offense and defense played well enough for us to win.”
In a game that was decided by five points, both long kickoff returns are a source of regret for the Hoosiers, something Allen echoed in his postgame remarks.
“It’s really, really frustrating to give up those kind of return yards,” Allen said. “It just makes me want to puke.”
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