Two Jack Tuttle interceptions proved to be the difference as Indiana lost to Michigan State 20-15 on Saturday afternoon in Bloomington.
Michigan State returned a first half Tuttle pass 30 yards for a score, and it needed just 39 yards to score a second half TD after Tuttle’s second interception of the game.
It was Tuttle’s first start of the season and third of his career as he filled in for the injured Michael Penix, Jr.
“Did some good things, but (he’s) got to protect the football,” head coach Tom Allen said of Tuttle’s performance after the game. “We’ve got to block better for him and catch better. We had a few drops, not a lot of them but some costly ones at the wrong time that hurt us.”
The mistakes by the offense masked a strong defensive effort by the Hoosiers. IU held the Spartans to just 241 yards for the game and intercepted two passes of their own, one by Josh Sanguinetti and the other by Noah Pierre.
MSU’s Kenneth Walker III came into the game as the nation’s leading rusher and a 7.1 yards per carry average. He carried 23 times for 84 yards (3.7 per carry).
“I thought our defense played awesome,” Allen said. “I don’t know what else to say. They did everything we asked them to do except maybe score. That’s the one thing they didn’t do was maybe score a touchdown.”
But when Indiana’s offense wasn’t giving it away, they still couldn’t find the end zone. IU settled for three first half field goals, and despite outgaining the Spartans 217 to 57 in total yards at the break, they led just 9-7.
MSU scored ten unanswered in the third quarter including the post-interception drive, but IU did find the end zone on a 1-yard Stephen Carr run with 12:56 left in the game to pull to within 17-15. But the IU offense could only muster 24 yards the rest of the game and never seriously threatened again.
The offensive struggles continued a season-long pattern for IU. The Hoosiers entered the game ranked No. 11 in total offense in the Big Ten and have now committed 12 turnovers in the four losses, all to current top-10 teams.
“I feel that just still, we’ve got to evaluate why we’re not executing in certain situations when you feel good about certain things coming off the bye week, which I did, but it continued to be the same issues as far as not finishing drives in the red zone, moving the football but not getting the touchdowns,” Allen said. “You know eventually that can be the difference and then we lose the game by five points.
“You give up the pick-six, which can’t happen. Protecting the football continues to be to me a glaring thing.”
The Hoosiers dropped to 2-4 on the season and 0-3 in the Big Ten and things won’t get any easier next weekend. Indiana will face Ohio State in Bloomington as they try to find answers in what has been a disappointing season that opened with IU in the top-20.
“At the end of the day, the buck stops with me,” Allen said. “We’ve just got to execute, that’s the bottom line.”
- Tuttle finished the game 28-of-52 for 188 yards and the two interceptions. He also fumbled in the fourth quarter on a sack.
- Pierre and Micah McFadden led IU with nine tackles apiece. McFadden had 2.5 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks and a pass break-up. Devon Matthews and Cam Jones each had eight tackles.
- Indiana had 154 sack adjusted rushing yards and 4.7 yards per carry. MSU had three sacks that cost IU 20 yards. Stephen Carr led IU with 19 carries for 53 yards and a touchdown.
- The Hoosiers held MSU quarterback Payton Thorne to a 54 percent completion percentage, 126 yards, and the two interceptions.
- Starting cornerback Tiawan Mullen did not play for Indiana. He was seen before the game in a walking boot. His fellow starting corner Reese Taylor played sparingly. Quarterback Michael Penix, Jr. was also not in uniform for the game after suffering a shoulder separation two weeks ago.
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