To paraphrase that famous college football fan William Shakespeare, a win by any other name would smell as sweet... or something like that, as it pertains to the 2015 Ohio State Buckeyes. Presently undefeated, with a 4-0 record, Ohio State travels for the second time this season, traveling to Bloomington, Indiana, to take on the also undefeated Indiana Hoosiers. Ohio State defeated Western Michigan 38-12 in Ohio Stadium, with a performance that was an improvement over the previous two games, but still left some questions for Buckeye fans.
Ohio State has defeated Indiana the last nineteen times the teams have played. As a matter of fact, Ohio State and Indiana played to a tie back in 1990 (27-27) in Bloomington, when John Cooper was Ohio State's head coach, current ESPN studio analyst Robert Smith was a freshman phenom running back, and current ESPN analyst Kirk Herbstreit served as a backup quarterback.
Indiana has come close on several occasions to toppling Ohio State. The last time Ohio State visited Bloomington, Ohio State did not so much beat the Hoosiers but outlast them, winning 52-49 in Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer's debut season in 2012.
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Indiana enters this game with strong performers across the board offensively. Hoosiers quarterback Nate Sudfeld will play this game, after missing last season's contest due to injury. Indiana has been bolstered by the transfer addition of running back Jordan Howard, who has rushed for 675 yards already this season. Ricky Jones paces the Hoosier receiving corps, averaging 22.8 yards per reception. While Ohio State is well-respected for its offensive talent, Indiana actually has a better points per game average than the Buckeyes, with a 38.2 point per game average, compared to Ohio State's 34.5.
Of course, where Indiana has struggled under the leadership of Kevin Wilson is on the defensive side of the ball. Indiana has been formidable offensively, yet continues to give up points to the opposition. At this writing, Indiana ranks 97th in the country, surrendering 32 points a game.
Further intrigue from an Ohio State perspective comes in the form of two former Ohio State players who have moved on to play for Indiana. Indiana offensive lineman Tim Gardner originally signed with Ohio State, yet was kicked off the team for a disciplinary incident back in 2013. Indiana defensive back Jayme Thompson also signed with Ohio State in 2013, but left after a redshirt season; after a season at JUCO Iowa Western, Thompson signed with Indiana in July 2015.
Ohio State at Indiana
Kickoff: 3:30 pm ET (Saturday)
TV Channel: ABC/ESPN2 mirror
Spread: Ohio State -21
Three Things To Watch
1. The Turnover Margin
Ohio State has been far too careless with the football, dating back to the end of the 2014 national championship run. While Ohio State quarterback Cardale Jones played better against Western Michigan, Jones did throw an interception that was an underthrown pass. While it has not yet hurt the Buckeyes in the win column, Meyer has to be strongly concerned that the Buckeyes are developing poor habits as they relate to football possession.
2. Ohio State's Run Defense
Against a two-headed attack by Western Michigan's Jamauri Brogan and Jarvion Franklin, Ohio State gave up 169 yards and 4.1 yards a carry. Ouch. With a tremendous back such as Jordan athlHoward, as well as future B1G opponents on the horizon, Ohio State needs to tighten up its interior run defense, or the national championship hopes may not be realized.
3. Braxton Miller's Role
For the last several weeks, Ohio State has tried to force-feed Miller into the offense, often resulting in a sputtering effect. While Miller's dynamic spin move at Virginia Tech was mesmerizing, it has seemed that the coaches have overthought on how to get Miller into the game plan, without just allowing for plays to happen when or if the right time comes along.
Ohio State had its feel-good game against Western Michigan; now the Buckeyes need to take their act on the road to see if there are other kinks that need to be fixed. Ohio State needs to fine tune its deep passing game with Cardale Jones and the receiving corps, as well as develop its traditionally strong running game with Ezekiel Elliott. Against an improving Indiana team that is still a work in progress defensively, Ohio State should still wind up on the winning ledger, albeit with some minor frustrations against the Hoosiers.
Prediction: Ohio State 42, Indiana 24
— Written by Chip Minnich, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and a diehard Ohio State fan. Minnich also writes and podcasts for menofthescarletandgray.com, a site dedicated to Ohio sports with a special emphasis on the Buckeyes. Follow him on Twitter @ChipMinnich.