BLOOMINGTON-The Indiana football program ran over more than a speed bump in its journey around the proverbial corner Saturday – it ran head first into a brick wall called the Ohio State Buckeyes.
Ohio State used a dominant defense, a balanced offense, and some special special teams play to throttle the Hoosiers, 41-10, at Memorial Stadium in front of a sold out crowd of 52,866.
"It's been a long time since I've been on the receiving end of a game like that," said IU Coach Terry Hoeppner, whose team slipped to 4-3 overall and 1-3 in the Big Ten.
Offensively, Indiana was unable to get anything going against the nation's ninth-ranked defense. Indiana managed just 137 yards of total offense, including on 95 yards through the air. Blake Powers – who entered the game ranked third nationally with 20 touchdowns - was limited to 72 yards on 13-of-29 passing and zero touchdowns. James Hardy – who entered the contest ranked second nationally in receiving yards with 124.0/game - managed only two catches for 27 yards.
"I think they felt they could stop the run so they just wanted to focus on stopping the pass," said Hardy.
Ohio State was able to bottle up Indiana's running game, as Indiana was limited to 42 yards on 26 carries. Chris Taylor was held to 18 yards on 10 carries, while Yamar Washington also finished with 18 on six runs.
"They are very talented and a national championship defense," said Powers. "They play real hard, and they were always in the right place and always seemed to have a good idea what we were doing. That's what they've done every week."
Indiana's only touchdown came courtesy a 57-yard, second-quarter fumble return by John Pannozzo that cut the lead to 17-10. Indiana's only other points came on a 39-yard second quarter field goal by Joe Kleinsmith that was set up by a 63-yard interception return by Tracy Porter from the Indiana goal line.
Despite those two big defensive plays, it was an equally long afternoon for the Indiana defense. Ohio State piled up 478 yards, including 240 on the ground. Tailback Antonio Pittman ran for 133 yards on 26 carries, while quarterback Troy Smith accounted for 281 yards (226 passing, 55 rushing) and three touchdowns.
As if the Buckeyes' dominance on both sides of the ball wasn't enough, Ted Ginn, Jr., produced a pair of big plays on special teams. Ginn had what appeared to be a 98-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in the second quarter, but a personal foul on the return nullified the score and gave him a 73-yard return instead.
Ginn would eventually find the end zone, though, on a 62-yard punt return in the fourth quarter that finished off the Hoosiers as well as the game's scoring.
Ginn, who entered the game averaging only 92.3 all-purpose yards, wound up with 279 yards Saturday (110 on kickoff returns, 110 on punt returns and 59 on four receptions).
The setback left Hoeppner frustrated with not only the play of his team, but a couple of officiating calls as well. Indiana's Jake Powers appeared to recover a fumble on the second half's opening kickoff, but an officials' inadvertent whistle nullified the turnover and forced Indiana to kickoff again.
Adding to Hoeppner's frustration was the fact that in the first half, Hoeppner said there was also an inadvertent whistle on an OSU punt was was fumbled by Troy Grosfield, but the play stood and Ohio State took over at the IU 28. The Buckeyes scored three plays later on a 23-yard pass from Smith to Santonio Holmes.
"Good teams that play well get breaks," said Hoeppner. "We didn't play very well, and we didn't get any breaks."
Saturday's struggles were a big disappointment to an IU team that expected to give the 14th-ranked Buckeyes everything they could handle.
"We knew it wasn't going to be a 48-40 score – we knew we weren't going to be in an offensive battle," said Powers. "But we thought we would be able to score enough points and our defense could play well enough for us to get the win.
"That was our game plan, and things don't always go as planned."
INDIANA-Sears 6-27, Taylor 10-18, Washington 6-18, Powers 4-(-21). Totals 26-42. OHIO STATE-Pittman 26-133, T. Smith 12-55, M. Wells 5-50, Schnittker 4-12. Totals 48-240.
INDIANA-Powers 29-13-1 72, McFarland 3-1-0 3, Thigpen 1-1-0 20. Totals 33-15-1 95. OHIO STATE-T. Smith 23-14-1 226, J. Zwick 1-1-0 12. Totals 24-15-1 238.
INDIANA-Thigpen 3-13, Taylor 3-5, Hardy 2-27, Gilmore 2-13, Washington 2-6, Bailey 1-24, O'Neal 1-8, Skelton 1-(-1). OHIO STATE-Holmes 5-104, Ginn 4-59, Pittman 2-20, Hamby 1-27, Hall 1-12, White 1-9, Gonzalez 1-7.
Hoosiers Hammered, Humbled By Bucks
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