Indiana opened the 2020 season with its first win over a top 10 team in 33 years.
In a fourth quarter and overtime that had enough drama for an entire season, IU stunned No. 8 Penn State 36-35.
Trailing 35-28 after Penn State scored first in the overtime period, IU responded with a touchdown and decided to go for two and the win.
Quarterback Michael Penix escaped the pocket and stretched out for the pylon. The ruling on the field was a successful conversion, and after a lengthy review, a tantalizingly close call was upheld.
UNREAL ENDING IN BLOOMINGTON! 😲
— Big Ten Network (@BigTenNetwork) October 24, 2020
That the game ever made it to overtime was almost as stunning as the final play.
Trailing 21-20 with less than two minutes to play, IU allowed Penn State to score and take a 28-20 lead with 1:42 left.
Quarterback Michael Penix, who had struggled the entire game, led IU on a 7 play 75 yard drive that resulted in a one yard sneak by the Hoosier quarterback to pull to within 28-26. Penix also converted the two-point conversion on the ground to force overtime.
After Penn State scored to take the overtime lead, Penix responded yet again. The redshirt sophomore quarterback found Whop Philyor in the corner of the end zone for a nifty toe-tapping catch to pull IU back to within one.
Head coach Tom Allen made the choice to go for two points and the win, setting up the dramatic final play.
“The emotion is so strong. I love this team so much. I believed we could do things like this,” Allen said after the game.
In the final 1:42 plus overtime, Penix was 8 of 10 passing for 71 yards, with 1 rushing TD, 1 passing TD, and 2 two-point conversions.
“When it came down to it and we had to have him, he made plays,” Allen said of Penix. “He finished.”
Penix had not played in a game in almost a full calendar year after having season ending surgery in 2019.
For his part, the Tampa, Fla. product was just happy to get the win.
“I feel like we showed you can’t count us out,” Penix said. “We didn’t really finish how we wanted to (in previous games). We made sure we finished.”
Penix was 19-of-36 for 170 yards with a touchdown and an interception for the game.
Early Penn State mistakes allowed Indiana to take a 17-7 lead at halftime. Running back Stevie Scott found the end zone twice before the break.
Defensive backs Jamar Johnson and Jaylin Williams both had interceptions, and Johnson also forced a Penn State fumble for a third Nittany Lion first half turnover. Johnson has three interceptions and the forced fumble in his last three games.
“I’m so proud of (defensive coordinator) Kane Wommack and our whole defensive staff,” Allen said. “They did a phenomenal job making adjustments.”
Linebacker Micah McFadden led IU with 11 tackles while Johnson added 10.
The short field created by the takeaways allowed IU to create scoring opportunities for the offense, but statistically Penn State’s offense dominated the contest.
The Nittany Lions held a 488 to 211 advantage in total yards, ran 25 more plays than IU, and led in time of possession 40:25 to 19:35. Three missed field goals and 10 penalties helped stifle the PSU attack.
Penn State outscored IU 21-3 beginning with a touchdown on the final play of the third quarter, but the Nittany Lions couldn’t stop Indiana’s stunning final minute rally.
“Just so proud of this football team,” Allen said. We did something that we haven’t done here in a long, long time.”
It was Indiana’s first win over a top ten team since an upset of Ohio State in 1987.
And it would not have been possible without Allen’s decisions to allow Penn State to score at the end of regulation, and then go for two points in overtime.
The fourth year Hoosier head coach deferred to his staff and players when it came to those decisions.
“I give credit to our coaches, Allen said. “We communicate very thoroughly about all of these things. You learn from the past and try and grow and get better. I pray a long time to make the right choices in a game. Sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t. But we hit them right on the nose here at the end and the players made the plays.”
Indiana will travel to Rutgers next Saturday for a 3:30 p.m. ET kick-off at Piscataway N.J. The Scarlet Knights defeated Michigan State today in East Lansing.
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