As IU football took a 14-7 lead over No. 13 Michigan on a one-yard keeper from junior quarterback Peyton Ramsey in the second quarter, there was a glimmer of hope.
The Hoosiers have not defeated the Wolverines since 1987, but it looked liked that could have changed early in Saturday’s contest.
Aside from an interception from Ramsey which Michigan didn’t score off, IU’s offense was clicking on its first three drives. The Hoosiers worked their way down the field and spread the football around on its two touchdown drives.
Then a reality check settled in.
Michigan’s defense shut out IU the rest of the way, and its offense finished the game with 32 unanswered points en route to a 39-14 win.
The Wolverine secondary stopped giving Ramsey chances with underneath routes, something the Hoosiers typically thrive on. Instead, IU had to take shots deeper downfield, giving Michigan’s defensive line more time to get to Ramsey and force errant passes.
“They were just able to push the pocket,” Ramsey said. “They have big, strong, fast guys and the way they all compliment each other up front, they were able to cause problems for us in different looks and pressures.”
Ramsey said he got the wind knocked out of him on a hit to the ribs the same play he threw that interception, but he was good enough to stay out there and keep playing.
Junior receiver Ty Fryfogle and sophomore running back Stevie Scott III, however, got banged up and each saw time recovering on the sideline throughout the game. In the third quarter, Scott and freshman Matthew Bedford left the game with injuries on the same play.
With junior receiver Whop Philyor already unable to suit up, the Hoosiers couldn’t afford more injuries on the offensive side of the ball. The Michigan defense, which has let up just 45 points in its last four games, fully exposed IU’s lack of depth on offense after its early scoring drives.
“We’re not where we need to be depth-wise,” IU head coach Tom Allen said. “We're getting closer, absolutely, but we're not there yet.”
The only Hoosier able to consistently to find opportunities against the Wolverine defense Saturday was sophomore tight end Peyton Hendershot. Following a career-high, seven-catch performance last week, Hendershot caught six more passes for 62 yards on Saturday.
“They were a good defense, but we weren’t overwhelmed,” Hendershot said. “We started off hot, we’ve just got to continue to execute.”
IU’s offense had it moments early on against a hard-nose Michigan defense but couldn’t pull through when it needed to extend drives to stay in the game.
“We’re definitely better than 14 points,” Ramsey said. “There were times we just had to be better. It was just a play here that one guy or two guys weren’t able to execute, and that made all the difference.”
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