Indiana faces its toughest test of the season when it hits the road for Columbus, Ohio and the No. 3 ranked Ohio State Buckeyes. In one of the more lopsided conference series in the country, Indiana hasn’t defeated Ohio State in 30 years, and on paper that streak appears set to continue.
OSU has won their five games thus far this season by an average score of 49-19, while Indiana has had several closer contests. Can the Hoosiers pull the stunner on the road? Never say never, but this one looks like a major long shot.
INDIANA (4-1) at No. 3 OHIO STATE (5-0)
- Kickoff: 4:00 p.m. Eastern Time
- Location: Ohio Stadium (104,944), Columbus, Ohio
- Television: Fox
- Series: OSU leads the all-time series 74-12-5. Ohio State won last year’s meeting in Bloomington, 49-21. Indiana last won in 1988 (41-7 in Bloomington).
- Odds: OSU is a 26 point favorite.
- Weather at kickoff: 85 degrees, partly cloudy, winds at 10 mph, 15% chance of rain
Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer is in his seventh season at the helm of the Buckeyes. He has a 76-8 record during that tenure. Meyer owns a career record of 180-31 during 17 career seasons that includes stints at Bowling Green, Utah and Florida.
TALE OF THE TAPE
WHEN OHIO STATE HAS THE BALL
Pick your poison. The Buckeyes boast a top 10 passing offense and a top 40 rushing attack. Historically, Urban Meyer’s teams have been more prolific running the ball in a system that includes a dual-threat quarterback, but Dwayne Haskins is more of a traditional pocket passer that doesn’t look to run.
What Haskins lacks in mobility he more than makes up for through the air. On the season he is 109 for 154 on his passes for 1,464 yards to go with 19 touchdowns and just two interceptions.
Haskins has a number of different weapons that he looks for in the passing attack. Parris Campbell has 26 catches for 359 yards and five TDs, and K.J. Hill has caught 27 balls for 318 yards and two TDs. Five other Buckeyes are over 100 yards receiving.
J.K. Dobbins leads the Buckeye rushing attack with 380 yards on 73 carries. He has scored three touchdowns. His name should be familiar to Hoosier fans. He carved up IU for 205 total yards in 2017.
While Indiana’s pass defense has been a strength and ranked in the top 20 nationally, they haven’t met a test anywhere close to this yet. The Hoosiers will be looking to make Haskins uncomfortable in the pocket and force him to make decisions outside of his comfort zone — on the run.
The Buckeyes have only allowed seven sacks in five games, so IU will have their work cut out for them. If Haskins has all day in the pocket, IU will be in big trouble.
While the OSU running game isn’t what it has been in recent years — don’t be fooled. That is likely more by choice than a lack of ability — and they are still in the upper third of teams nationally. This may be the game that the Buckeyes elect to emphasize the ground game and try to expose the weaker aspect of Indiana’s defense.
WHEN INDIANA HAS THE BALL
Do you think Ohio State watched the Michigan State film? With a potent defensive line, the Buckeyes are likely to go with a similar tactic of rushing five or fewer, stacking the box with up to nine guys, and making Peyton Ramsey uncomfortable before he can look upfield. That approach also managed to stymie what had been a potent IU rushing attack prior to the contest against the Spartans.
The antidote would be better play from the veteran Hoosier offensive line. If the line can give Ramsey time to throw, IU can look vertically against what is likely to be one on one matchups.
One major question is whether the Hoosiers will have the services of top receivers Whop Philyor and Luke Timian. IU will needs all hands on deck, especially at the wide receiver position, as they look to make plays up the field.
It is going to take a pretty special performance for Indiana to hang around in this one. In 2017 the Hoosiers kept it close for nearly three quarters but lost by 28. Ohio State wears teams like Indiana out with their depth and talent.
The Hoosiers will likely need a sizable advantage in the turnover margin — although even that wasn’t enough against Michigan State. Multiple scores from the defense and/or special teams might be needed as well.
Basically, it would take one of those days where IU gets every bounce and break in the game — and even that may not be enough.
Some games can be challenging to predict as you try to silence your heart and pick with your brain. This isn’t one of those games.
OHIO STATE 48
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