COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Turnovers have been a focal point for No. 9 Indiana throughout the 2020 season.
The Hoosiers forced three more Saturday at No. 3 Ohio State, extending their Big Ten lead to 15 takeaways on the season.
But IU also turned the ball over four times. More importantly, Ohio State outscored the Hoosiers 14-0 in points off turnovers, which played a big role in IU (4-1) coming up short in a 42-35 loss to the Buckeyes at Ohio Stadium.
Twice, IU had good field position off turnovers in the first quarter but was unable to take advantage of it.
“In the first half, with the takeaways, if we could have got some momentum off those, got some more points off of those, that would have been huge,” IU coach Tom Allen said.
IU junior safety Jamar Johnson had a pair of interceptions. On the first interception, Johnson returned the ball 33 yards down to Ohio State’s 44-yard line. The Hoosiers drove 8 yards on three players and went for it on fourth-and-2 from the 36, but Ty Fryfogle dropped a pass from quarterback Michael Penix that would have been a first down and at least put IU in field-goal range. Instead, IU turned the ball over on downs.
After IU defensive lineman Jerome Johnson came up with an unexpected interception at the IU 43, the Hoosiers were unable to capitalize, going three-and-out on offense.
Johnson had a bizarre play on his second interception of Fields. As Johnson returned the ball 24 yards down to OSU’s 13-yard line early in the third quarter, he was stripped from behind by Buckeyes receiver Julian Fleming, with Ohio State offensive lineman Thayer Munford recovering the loose ball. IU’s defense picked Johnson up by forcing a three-and-out on the next possession.
“I didn’t see him coming behind me,” Johnson said. “I was trying to make a move. I was trying to get in the end zone. I don’t know who it was, but they made a heckuva play. … I was right out there the next play, made it clear, 'Let’s go, we’ve got to stop them.'”
OSU’s 14 points off turnovers came on a 93-yard touchdown drive after a fumble by IU sophomore running back/receiver David Ellis and an interception by Penix that Shaun Wade returned 36 yards for a TD late in the third quarter.
“Just a bad throw,” Penix said.
Penix threw for a career-high 495 yards and five TDs.
“There’s always two or three plays you wish you had back,” Allen said. “The Pick 6 was tough, but Michael did some awesome, awesome things. But you hate that. It’s not a mistake he usually makes.”
ELLIS MAKES IMPACT
Ellis made an impact his second game back from a lower leg injury, finishing with four catches for 86 yards and a TD. He was often split out on four-receiver sets and made a nice, 16-yard TD catch on a crossing pattern in the fourth quarter. Ellis also had one carry for 2 yards.
“We’re happy to have him back,” Fryfogle said. “He’s just a mismatch at running back, linebackers are going to be covering him. He’s just awesome.”
JONES, BRYANT OUT
IU starting left tackle Caleb Jones missed his second straight game for undisclosed reasons. Defensive end Alfred Bryant also was out.
Mike Katic returned at left guard and played, though Dylan Powell started his second straight game at left guard for the Hoosiers. Luke Haggard started his second straight game at left tackle for Jones.
Also on the inactive list for IU was linebacker Thomas Allen, defensive back Marcelino Ball, offensive lineman Kahlil Benson, wide receiver Da’Shaun Brown, tight end Sam Daugstrup, tight end Turon Ivy Jr., defensive back Raheem Layne, defensive back Samuel Slusher, wide receiver Rashawn Williams, wide receiver Cam Wilson and linebacker Ty Wise.
SHOUTOUT FROM KING JAMES
LeBron James is an Akron, Ohio, native and Ohio State fan. He likely would have played college basketball for the Buckeyes had the one-and-done rule been in place at the time.
But after watching Saturday’s matchup between the Buckeyes and Hoosiers, James came away with respect for the IU football program.
After the game, James tweeted from his verified account: “IU got a great team, QB got amazing touch, playmakers on the outside, defensive 4 is tough! They’re going to be scary good very soon! Look out! Salute. Nevertheless #GoBucks."