BLOOMINGTON – Before Sunday night, the last time Indiana was ranked in the Top 25 in football, Bill Clinton was president, the sitcom “Friends” launched on NBC and Boyz II Men topped the music charts.
It’s been a long road for Indiana since being ranked No. 25 during the 1994 season. But the No. 24 Hoosiers (7-2, 4-2 Big Ten) took a significant step in the direction of their football program by earning a national ranking for the first time in 25 years.
“Much more work ahead of us,” Indiana coach Tom Allen said. “Much more work to do. At the same time, (we’re) not oblivious to the fact it hasn’t happened in 25 years. Something that our guys do take a lot of pride in, being recognized in that regard. Also (we) know what comes with that, too — the expectation.”
That work begins with preparation for a ranked showdown at No. 9 Penn State (noon, ABC). The offense the rest of the season will be led by redshirt junior quarterback Peyton Ramsey. During the bye week, Indiana announced redshirt freshman quarterback Michael Penix Jr. was done for the rest of the season after undergoing surgery to repair a joint in his collarbone.
Ramsey has filled in for Penix on and off throughout the season, passing for 1,302 yards with nine TDs and three interceptions in seven games and three starts. He’ll start the rest of the season, with redshirt freshman Jack Tuttle backing him up.
“I don’t think (it’s) added responsibility,” Ramsey said. “I think just going out and continuing to do what I’ve done all year, continuing to prepare the same way. You get more reps with the ones, which will obviously be helpful for me.”
Sophomore running back Stevie Scott III, who has rushed for 100 or more yards in three of his last four games, expects the offense to continue to run smoothly with Ramsey under center. IU enters its matchup with Penn State ranked first in the Big Ten in passing offense (308 ypg) and second in total offense (446.4 ypg).
“Really, we always had faith in Peyton,” Scott said. “Even when he wasn’t the starter. Every time he comes in the game when Mike goes out, we haven’t gotten in our mind that he can’t get the job done.”
Ramsey will be making his 16th career start at Penn State.
“Peyton, he’s been our starting quarterback before,” Indiana senior receiver Donovan Hale said. “It’s nothing different. One guy gets hurt, another guy has to step up. Jack, obviously, he’s going to have to step up, too, just in case something happens to Peyton, but we’re going to be fine.”
Indiana offensive coordinator Kalen DeBoer said any adjustments to the offense with Ramsey under center will be subtle.
“We’re at the point in the season where (Penn State) has seen enough on Peyton to kind of know,” DeBoer said. “Every week, we bring different wrinkles to the table no matter who the quarterback is going to be. That’s just part of our game planning.”
DeBoer said Tuttle also had a good week of practice during the bye and understands the responsibility of moving into the backup role.
“Last week was really a good week for him,” DeBoer said. “I thought he really settled in more than anything, understands where he’s at now and he needs to be the guy that’s ready to go.”
IU-MICHIGAN KICKOFF ANNOUNCED
The Big Ten announced Monday that IU’s home finale against No. 14 Michigan on Nov. 23 will kick off at 3:30 p.m. and air on either ESPN or ABC.
It will be Senior Day, and all IU football seniors will be recognized before the game, including starting receivers Nick Westbrook and Hale, starting offensive linemen Simon Stepaniak and Hunter Littlejohn, starting kicker Logan Justus and starting linebacker Reakwon Jones.