Hoosiers Visit For Homecoming
Homecoming always is sweeter after a big road win and with visions of still attaining all of your team’s lofty goals. That’s where the third-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes are at the moment.
Urban Meyer’s outfit may have escaped State College, Pa., with a one-point, come-from-behind win, but that key 27-26 triumph has everything in place as the Buckeyes (5-0, 2-0 in the Big Ten) now look to get back to dominance. In their way are the pesky Indiana Hoosiers (4-1, 1-1), who also survived on the road last week, nipping lowly Rutgers 24-17.
Unranked Indiana will visit Ohio Stadium on Saturday (4 p.m. Eastern, FOX) as a decided underdog – +25 points according to most oddsmakers – and, as usual coach Tom Allen isn’t backing down from the challenge. Still he sounded like somewhat of a realist this week.
“It’s the most talented Ohio State team I’ve seen since I’ve been here,” said IU’s second-year head coach, who spent his first season in Bloomington as the Hoosiers’ defensive coordinator. “A very, very good football team on both sides and special teams, just a lot of playmakers and speed and athleticism and size and very accurate quarterback. And a very, very athletic defensive unit.”
Most concerning for Indiana is OSU’s rugged defensive line, led by Dre’Mont Jones and Chase Young, the latter named on Monday as the Big Ten Co-Defensive Player of the Week.
The Buckeyes have 44 tackles-for-loss led by Jones’ 6.5. One wonders if they would be leading the country in sacks as they did last year if not for the injury to All-American end Nick Bosa, who was lost in the win at TCU a few weeks ago.
Meanwhile, Indiana has had issues along its offensive line.
“They’ve got to be more consistent,” Allen said Monday. “To me they did some good things in the first half (at Rutgers), but it’s got to continue.
“Going against one of the best front lines in the country in Ohio State, and we need to create creases and allow them to play the football.”
Indiana will have to figure out how to protect quarterback Peyton Ramsey and keep the Buckeyes from an all-out assault. The IU running game has averaged a middling 179.4 ypg.
Of course, trying to defend OSU will be no picnic for the visitors, either. The Buckeyes rank fourth nationally with 557.0 yards per game of total offense, including 346.6 yards passing. Quarterback Dwayne Haskins struggled a bit at Penn State but still made winning plays. He’s thrown for multiple touchdown passes in all five games this season.
IU has been solid defensively so far, allowing just 321.8 yards and 21.2 points per game, but the Hoosiers haven’t faced an elite offense anywhere near that of Ohio State.
Indiana hasn’t been 5-1 since 2007, something that has only occurred three times in the past quarter-century. Getting to that mark will require pulling off perhaps the biggest upset of the college football season.
History isn’t on IU’s side. The Hoosiers currently are in the midst of a 25-game winless streak that dates back to the late 1980s. Indiana knocked off OSU in 1987, causing then-head coach Earle Bruce to call it the Buckeyes’ “darkest day.” IU also took down Ohio State the following year with new coach John Cooper in rebuilding mode.
Indiana also upended OSU in 1951, which happened to be the first season for legendary Ohio State coach Woody Hayes.
Then there is the matter of Ohio State’s all-time homecoming record: 72-19-5.
Indiana could use top receivers Luke Timian and Whop Philyor, who missed last week’s game because of undisclosed injuries. It remains uncertain if they’ll play this week.
“Hopefully we will be able to get a couple guys back that didn’t play Saturday,” Allen said. “I really don’t know any of those yet.”
• Ohio State has won 10 consecutive games dating back to last season, the second-longest winning streak in the FBS.
• Meyer is seeking his 50th Big Ten regular-season win. He is a head-spinning 49-3 in conference games as Ohio State coach.
• Meyer is 179-31 in 17 years as a head coach; Allen is 9-9.
• Ohio State leads the all-time series 74-12-5, including a 48-8-4 record in Columbus. OSU’s record against Indiana since 1952 is 54-2-2.
• Indiana’s wins have come at Florida International (38-28), vs. Virginia (20-16), vs. Ball State (38-10) and at Rutgers (24-17). IU’s lone loss was at home on Sept. 22 against Michigan State (35-21). The Hoosiers still have to travel to Michigan and also are yet to face Iowa and Penn State.
• Ramsey is 115 of 162 passing for 1,039 yards, eight TDs and five interceptions. He also has 170 yards rushing and two scores on the ground.
• Stevie Scott is Indiana’s leading rusher with 98 carries for 464 yards and four TDs.
• Haskins is now at 1,464 passing yards yards, 19 TDs and two INTs.
• Safety Jordan Fuller leads the Buckeyes with 22 tackles.
• Since Meyer’s arrival at Ohio State in 2012, the Buckeyes are 43-3 in home games at Ohio Stadium. The only such loss to an unranked team came in the 2014 home opener against Virginia Tech.
• Allen succeeded Kevin Wilson as head coach at the end of the 2016 season and took over the program to lead the Hoosiers in the Foster Farms Bowl loss to Utah. After being forced out in Bloomington, Wilson became Meyer’s offensive coordinator at Ohio State.