Handicapping Ohio State At Indiana
Finally, the season is upon us. The Buckeyes battle Indiana on Thursday night (8 p.m. Eastern, ESPN) to begin their highly anticipated campaign. This will be the first time since 1975 that OSU will take on a conference opponent in the season opener. As for fans, you will be spared the boredom of a cupcake opener blowout. The Hoosiers provide a nice challenge to get the Buckeyes focused from the very beginning.
The game itself hardly lacks lead-up drama in the proceeding headlines. The matchup presents a homecoming for new OSU offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson. He resigned from the head coaching position at IU after the 2016 season due to disputes with the university.
As for the current team, new HC Tom Allen has the luxury of an experienced team returning 18 starters from last season. The Hoosiers will be led by quarterback Richard Lagow and linebacker Tegray Scales.
Lagow returns for his senior season after throwing for 3,362 yards with 19 touchdowns. Scales earned All-B1G honors and led the conference with 126 tackles. While these steady pieces are in place, IU will have a new look this season.
Defensively, they will stay the same disruptive unit that gave J.T. Barrett fits last year. As for the offense, they have a new identity with the same system. Mike DeBord made the move from Tennessee to fill the offensive coordinator position and has to fill the expectations Wilson set during his tenure. DeBord ran a similar system to Wilson’s during his time with the Volunteers, and the Silver Bullets have taken note of it.
“We really watched (Indiana’s) spring game for personnel, and then go back to Tennessee cut-ups to see what this new coordinator likes to do,” said Sam Hubbard, a redshirt junior defensive end.
Vegas currently has the line set at OSU -21.5, but this game has “competitive” written all over it.
Ohio State’s Approach
We know what Wilson wants to do. The problem is that he could be missing a huge key in his plan: Mike Weber.
“He’s very close,” said Urban Meyer.
This was in-response to a question regarding Weber being 100 percent heading into the IU game. While we do not know for sure if we are receiving the full story here, it raises concerns about how involved OSU’s lead back will be involved during the season opener.
Meyer did not believe they are at the point of simply starting freshman J.K. Dobbins, but the lack of clarity will have everyone on the edge of their seats when the offense takes the field for their first possession.
Besides that, Ohio State’s main concern is living up to its expectations, both nationally and internally. Fifth-year senior captain Billy Price is confident in his team’s ability to handle them in week one.
“I think we have a good game plan going in, and I think the work week we put in as an offensive line is making sure we are ready to execute at a high level,” he said.
The tale of this game’s script has always been “Don’t sleep on the Hoosiers.” It has seemed like the Buckeyes play close with Indiana recently even when the score does not dictate that. Some of those factors deal with OSU’s offense being more conservative at times, but do not expect that from Wilson’s crew. His game plan will feature a speed OSU fans may not feel they are used to, but it will put tremendous pressure on IU’s experienced defense.
The waning expectations and questions about the Buckeye secondary will receive their answers. Expect the same hostile, havocking coverage that was implemented upon Meyer’s arrival in Columbus.
This is a primetime game and is already being called “The biggest season opener” in Indiana history. While I like the Buckeyes to handle their business, it will be closer than the experts predict. The spread is very uncomfortable, and IU’s powerful offense should can keep this game within three touchdowns. The season has officially arrived, Buckeye fans.
No. 2 Ohio State 34, Indiana 17