The Indiana Hoosiers are off to a 2-0 start, basking in the glow of a 52-0 shutout of FCS opponent Eastern Illinois in week two of the 2019 season but face a much tougher task on Saturday when the Ohio State Buckeyes come to Bloomington. After last week's win, Indiana head coach Tom Allen stated, "Took care of business like we were supposed to. ...That was our challenge, to play to our standard. And whatever happens, make sure we're getting better from the week before."
Offensively, Indiana was able to generate 555 total yards. The Hoosiers played three quarterbacks, with starter Michael Penix Jr. (14-of-20 for 197 yards, 2 touchdowns), and backups Peyton Ramsey (13-of-14 for 226 yards, 2 touchdowns) and Jack Tuttle (3-of-7 for 18 yards) each contributing to the damage done through the air. On Friday, Allen said Penix will be a game-time decision due to an undisclosed injury.
Next up for IU is Ohio State and no one needs to remind Allen that this will be the start of Big Ten play for both teams. "It is what it is, " he said earlier this week. "I'll continue to say that I don't make the schedule. We just adapt to what we get and who we are supposed to play next, and the Buckeyes are coming to town."
Indiana is looking for its first win over Ohio State since 1988. Hoosiers wide receiver Whop Philyor is relishing the opportunity, stating, "We came (to Indiana) to beat teams like Ohio State. ... We didn't come here to play them, we came here to beat them."
Coming off a decisive 42-0 defeat of the Cincinnati Bearcats, the Buckeyes are anxious to continue their impressive start to the 2019 college football season. A swarming defense is allowing an average of only 64.5 rushing yards per game. After the Cincinnati victory, Ohio State head coach Ryan Day stated, "I think today was another step in the journey, the right step — where we want to be."
Ohio State at Indiana
Kickoff: Saturday, Sept. 14 at 12 p.m. ET
Spread: Ohio State -15.5
When Ohio State Has the Ball
New starting quarterback Justin Fields is off to a strong start in his first two games, helping to alleviate concerns among Ohio State fans that the quarterback position would be a weakness for the Buckeyes this season.
Even after the departure of Terry McLaurin, Parris Campbell, and Johnnie Dixon, the Buckeyes are stocked at receiver. K.J. Hill (11 receptions for 78 yards, touchdown), Binjimen Victor (7-134-1), and Chris Olave (7-128-1) have all shown signs of developing strong chemistry with Fields in the passing game, and they will be a challenge for Indiana's secondary to contain.
Regardless of Justin Fields' success in the first two weeks, Indiana has confidence that they will be able to effectively shut Fields and the Ohio State offense down.
When Indiana Has the Ball
The aforementioned Indiana passing game was clicking against Eastern Illinois, and the play of Whop Philyor has been key during the first two games of the 2019 season. With 10 receptions for 141 yards, Philyor is leading the Hoosiers in receptions so far this season. Look for Ohio State to cover Philyor with cornerback Jeffrey Okudah, the Buckeyes' best player in the secondary.
Indiana has had mixed results when trying to run the ball, and that could be a challenge against an Ohio State defense that has been forcing its opponents to become one-dimensional. Leading the way for Indiana on the ground is sophomore running back Stevie Scott III, who has three touchdowns and 109 yards this season but is averaging only 3.5 yards per carry.
Indiana struggled in its season-opening win against Ball State (34-24) before getting the impressive win over Eastern Illinois last weekend. While Indiana has played Ohio State tough through the years, especially in Bloomington, Ohio State has too much speed defensively to allow the Hoosiers to emerge as a threat in this game. The Cincinnati win by Ohio State was considered a mini-preview of Big Ten play by Buckeye fans, as the Bearcats physically resemble and play like many B1G teams. Now that the Buckeyes have a chance to play an actual B1G opponent, odds are that Ohio State will continue its dominating ways, even on the road for the first time in 2019.