Did Indiana midfielder Michael Penix Jr. reach the stage before the ball went too far?
The connection has been very close to calling, and it’s definitely the source of frame-by-frame malfunctions on Pennsylvania blogs over the next week. The Hoosiers took advantage of the skepticism about a two-point win in a thrilling 36-35 match with eighth-seeded Nittany Lions on Saturday at Memorial Stadium.
It’s the first controversial play of the Big Ten season, but Penn State has put itself in that position with a flawless appearance befitting a top 10 team. The game shouldn’t be going overtime in the first place.
Pennsylvania, who spent most of the first 58 minutes trying to find the finish area, scored in Most of the wrong time. Nittany Lions had possession of the ball, by 21-20, and were on standby to knock Indiana – with one time limit – out of the match.
But Devin Ford exploded across the melee line, unable to pull back before his momentum carried him across the goal line to reach 14 yards. Pennsylvania led 28-20 with 1:42 left, but Pennix led the game link campaign in regulation.
Yes, Nittany Lions scored first in overtime, but you knew the Hoosiers would win if they had the chance. Indiana coach Tom Allen was obligated to do so, and Pinx Jr.’s rush to the edifice was a by definition. The image is finished. Blame officials for not canceling the call.
The illogical ending was a production by Penn State and left that door open to the road. Sean Clifford’s illuminated pass to Jahan Dotson with 2:22 left should be the end. Back-to-back bags for Tony Schacker should have been the end of it. Shoot, landing Parker Washington in overtime should have been the end of it.
Penn State was supposed to be Ohio’s No. 5 main competitor in the Big Ten Championship race in 2020. Now, Nittany Lions enters a Halloween match against Buckeyes who face elimination from any iota of the College Football Playoff competitions.
To be fair, Nittany Lions had several factors working against them before the season started. SN Preseason midfielder Micah Parsons, considered the nation’s best defensive player, withdrew before the season began. Gurney Brown, who sprinted 890 yards and 12 drops in 2019, knocked out indefinitely due to an undisclosed injury. The Big Ten is not allowing fans to be in stadiums this season due to COVID-19, so “White Out” is no longer a defining feature in the home field, regardless of how many cardboard pieces are in the stands.
Pennsylvania coach James Franklin – who has led Nittany Lions to the fifth-best Power 5 school record since 2016 behind Playoff regulars Clemson, Alabama and Ohio and Oklahoma State – will never use them as excuses, even if they’re not the bad ones.
They still haven’t filed against Indiana, and Nittany Lions have created their own problems. Penn State nearly doubled Indiana in yards, both in the first half (173-87) and in the match (488-211).
Pennsylvania also committed three first-half turnovers, including two interceptions from Clifford. Nittany Lions missed three field goals in the match. The running game darted only 82 yards in the first half before finding its beat in the second half. Clifford was more of a jeep lane jeep. It had 238 passing yards and 119 flowing yards, but continuity was missing.
Missed opportunities continued in the second half. The first and 10 turned from the 16-yard line into another lost field target after an offensive intervention call. With 4:55 left in the fourth quarter, Cam Jones of Indiana Kevoni Lee in Pennsylvania pads fourth and one from the 25-yard streak.
It all came about three minutes before the wild and overtime. It was a long, unavoidable list where whatever could go wrong, it went wrong in Pennsylvania. Nittany Lions faced the wrong team at the wrong time in innovative Hoosiers, who would have lost that match in the past to Penn State, Ohio State or Michigan. Hoosiers seldom benefit from the doubt.
They did this time, and Pennsylvania now faces the Big Ten and – eliminating the playoff game – at home against Buckeyes.
You can blame the rulers and say Penix Jr. It was short. But these excuses are off limits, too.