Leading up to Saturday’s clash with No. 3 Ohio State, Indiana head coach Tom Allen praised his defensive unit for the strides they made during fall camp.
In the Buckeyes' first series of the season, senior running back Miyan Williams rushed for a seven-yard touchdown to capitalize on an 80-yard drive. Although they provided little resistance to the Buckeyes to open the game, Indiana’s defense ultimately held Ohio State to 23 points, compared to 56 points a season ago.
“Years prior it was 50 and 40 points by halftime,” sixth-year senior defensive lineman Andre Carter said. “23 points, hey that’s a brick towards and a step towards the right direction.”
The first half had four quarterbacks see the field between both teams. Although Indiana redshirt freshman Brendan Sorsby was tabbed as the starting quarterback by Allen, he lasted just two series before redshirt freshman Tayven Jackson entered the contest.
With six minutes and 15 seconds remaining in the second quarter, redshirt sophomore kicker Chris Freeman knocked a 42-yard field goal through the uprights. The field goal cut Indiana’s deficit to just four points, but the Hoosiers didn’t score again.
Although they allowed a touchdown early, Indiana trailed Ohio State by a score of 10-3 at halftime after allowing a field goal late in the second quarter.
While running 31 plays to Indiana’s 27, the Buckeyes outgained the Hoosiers by 84 yards in the first half.
With Sorsby and Jackson under center, the signal callers completed just two total passes while their defense held the Buckeyes to just 10 points between the first two quarters.
After allowing 33.9 points per game a season ago, a revamped Indiana defense – just sixth-year seniors linebacker Aaron Casey and husky Noah Pierre returned from last season — kept Ohio State within reach.
Ohio State received the opening kick of the second half but was forced to punt, going three-and-out after a pair of tackles by Casey and a pass break-up by Carter.
With the fans in attendance at Memorial Stadium seeming hopeful in their Hoosiers, Jackson trotted onto the field to start the second half. The offense matched Ohio State and went three-and-out to open the second half.
Following the consecutive three-and-outs, the Buckeyes had just four series the rest of the game, with two of those resulting in a field goal alongside a touchdown run from Williams.
Boasting an impressive wide receiving group of senior Julian Fleming, sophomore Emeka Egbuka and junior Marvin Harrison Jr., Allen entered the contest concerned about his secondary and their ability to contain the wideouts.
“I was very encouraged by our secondary,” Allen said. “A lot to build off of, a lot to be excited about in that area — we just got to keep battling and keep getting better.”
Although Ohio State had its way, Indiana’s group of defensive backs also held 2022 unanimous all-American Harrison Jr. to just two receptions for 18 yards.
“I know for a fact those receivers are special,” head coach Tom Allen said postgame. “One is probably the best we’ve ever gone against since I've been coaching — my entire career.”
The Buckeyes were held to 23 points just three times last season en route to a College Football Playoff berth.
“We just got to come back to work and keep putting in the work that we’ve been putting in,” Carter said. “It’s an L, but we still have a lot of good things we did out there and a lot of things we can build on.”
Indiana will now set its sights on week two’s matchup against Indiana State University on Sept. 8. Kickoff is slated for 7 p.m. at Memorial Stadium, and the game will be televised on Big Ten Network.
“You play the game, you learn from week one and you move on to week two,” Allen said.