Buckeyes return for Homecoming against improving Hoosiers
Fresh off a grueling 27-26 comeback victory at Penn State, No. 3 Ohio State (5-0) returns home to the friendly confines of Ohio Stadium to face Indiana. While Ohio State fans are still basking in the comeback win, head coach Urban Meyer is deliberately taking a much more even keel approach, knowing that his team suffered a devastating loss at Iowa in 2017 the week after another furious rally to defeat Penn State.
At his press conference on Monday, Meyer had some nice things to say about the Buckeyes' next opponent. "Their scheme is outstanding, I think they’re very well coached. And they have answers for everything."
While the win at Penn State was crucial to Ohio State's 2018 goals, look for Meyer and his coaching staff to use this week against Indiana as an opportunity to improve upon many of the problems that have been confronting the Buckeyes this season.
Indiana comes into this game 4-1, after a road win at Rutgers last Saturday. The Hoosiers were leading the Scarlet Knights 24-7 at the half, but did not score any more points. Rutgers rallied to make it 24-17, but Indiana did enough to keep the Scarlet Knights from getting any closer. Hoosiers head coach Tom Allen was not pleased with the lackluster second-half effort. "Challenged our guys at halftime to finish and we did not... That's something we have to grow from and learn from. We let them hang around and hang around and they made it interesting at the end."
Indiana and Ohio State are long-time conference foes, with the Buckeyes holding a distinct 73-12-5 advantage in the series. The last time Indiana won in Ohio Stadium was in 1987, when Meyer was a graduate assistant to his legendary mentor, Earle Bruce. This year marks the 30th anniversary of the Hoosiers last victory over the Buckeyes, a 41-7 shellacking in Bloomington, during John Cooper's first year as Ohio State's head coach. The Buckeyes have won every game since that one, with the exception of a 27-27 tie in 1990 in Bloomington. Indiana has been able to make it close several times through the years but has not come out with a win. Meyer wants nothing more than to extend the winning streak, and keep Ohio State at the forefront of the College Football Playoff conversation.
Indiana at Ohio State
Kickoff: Saturday, Oct. 6, 4 p.m. ET
Spread: Ohio State -26.5
Three Things To Watch
1. Indiana's Peyton Ramsey vs. Ohio State's defense
Penn State's Trace McSorley ran all over Ohio State last weekend, rushing for 175 yards, while adding 286 yards through the air. McSorley's performance is a blueprint that other opponents, including Indiana, will try to duplicate. Ramsey is coming off a game at Rutgers in which he threw for 288 yards and a touchdown while adding 51 yards and another score on the ground. It will bear watching to see how Ohio State's defense responds to another dual-threat quarterback.
2. Ohio State's running game vs. Indiana's defense
The much-ballyhooed Buckeyes running game with J.K. Dobbins and Mike Weber has struggled to get going over the last few games, with neither back rushing for 100 yards since week three of the season. Indiana has been serviceable against the run, allowing 158 rushing yards per game, so it will be interesting to see if the Hoosiers stack the box as Tulane and Penn State did effectively against Ohio State.
3. Ohio State's passing game vs. Indiana's pass defense
With defenses selling out against the run that means more opportunities for Dwayne Haskins and his receiving corps to make plays through the air. Parris Campbell, K.J. Hill, Austin Mack and Johnnie Dixon all have recorded at least 10 catches this season, another indication of the talent and depth the Buckeyes have on offense. The Hoosiers are coming off of a solid effort against Rutgers in which they were credited with seven passes defended and an interception (by Jamar Johnson). Look for Haskins to test Indiana's secondary early and often, especially if Ohio State struggles to run the ball.
Ohio State comes home confident, but nursing some nagging injuries. Nick Bosa remains out after undergoing surgery to fix an abdominal injury he suffered in the TCU game. Other defenders such as Dre'Mont Jones, Damon Arnette and Robert Landers also are dealing with various injuries, but none are considered severe enough to cause them to miss this game. But keeping everyone healthy will definitely be a concern for Urban Meyer and the coaching staff as the Buckeyes navigate their Big Ten schedule.
Indiana played well in the first month of the season, recording wins over FIU, Virginia, Ball State and most recently, Rutgers. The Scarlet Knights are the only common opponent these two teams have played and while the Hoosiers struggled to beat Rutgers, winning 24-17, Ohio State had no issues in securing a 52-3 victory in week two.
As mentioned earlier, Indiana has been able to put scares into Ohio State through the years, and this game could be close through the first half, but look for Ohio State's depth and speed to be too much for the Hoosiers over the final two quarters. It should turn out to be a pleasant Homecoming weekend in Columbus.
Prediction: Ohio State 49, Indiana 21