Ohio State Football: Winners and Losers from the Week 7 Game vs. Indiana
It's very tough to have back-to-back wins in any season that couldn't be more different in how fans and players feel afterwards.
Nevertheless, that's what Ohio State is dealing with, escaping Indiana with a 52-49 win after last week's big home win over Nebraska.
The Buckeyes are still unbeaten at 7-0, but there are some huge, huge concerns with this football team, especially on defense.
Here's a look at the winners and losers from Saturday's escape.
Winner: Carlos Hyde
Braxton Miller racked up 360 total yards for Ohio State, but Carlos Hyde continues to be a growing threat out of the backfield as he ran for 156 yards, caught two passes for 27 yards and found the end zone twice.
The big back seemed like a square peg in a round hole when it comes to the spread, but he has surprised and had an outstanding year.
The spread seemed like it would be a better fit for smaller, shiftier senior back Jordan Hall.
Instead, the new offense has unlocked Hyde, and he has been a big-time player this season.
Loser: The Defense
What about 481 total yards and 49 points?
That says it all, especially considering the fact that the deficiencies are becoming more exposed.
You can blame injuries for hindering some very good players. But, none of the replacements have stepped up at all.
Winner: Zach Boren
On Saturday, Zach Boren was doing none of this despite starting the first six games as the starting fullback.
Against Indiana, not only was he starting at linebacker, he led the team in tackles with eight.
That is both a bright spot and a red flag for the Buckeye defense.
Which leads us to...
Losers: Freshmen Linebackers
When your starting fullback starts at linebacker over the freshmen linebackers, you brought in after national signing day, that's when your defense has some issues.
The idea is that any one of those freshmen would naturally fill in after injuries to Etienne Sabino and Storm Klein.
But none did.
That's extremely concerning because it shows that player development is not doing its job, so far.
Winner: Devin Smith
This was sophomore receiver Devin Smith's day: two catches, 106 yards, two touchdowns.
He continues to be "Mr. Big Play" in the passing game, reeling in a 60-yard long ball from Miller in the second quarter and weaving his way through the defense on a 46-yard touchdown which ended up being the difference in the game.
Smith has become the guy Ohio State looks for when they need a momentum shift, and he continues to deliver more times than not.
Loser: Punt Protection
The punt that Ohio State had blocked three weeks ago against UAB (pictured above) pretty much looks the exact same as the one their protection allowed against the Hoosiers.
OSU's punt team, which is coached by Urban Meyer himself, has had two punts blocked this season, each in the first half.
The punting team has been under fire ever since that block in the 2011 Sugar Bowl that almost cost them the win which eventually was vacated.
It's now a question of whether or not it gets fixed.
Winner: Punt Block Team
Right after the Hoosiers blocked an Ohio State punt, the Buckeyes returned the favor as they blocked their second punt in three games, with Bradley Roby scoring his second special teams touchdown this season.
Urban Meyer is still perfect as coach when his teams block a punt, which they just nearly kept intact on Saturday night.
Meyer made the punt block an art form at Florida, and he's done good work with that unit, so far, at Ohio State.
Loser: Luke Fickell
Forget about the recent incident with the pizza delivery man who made comments that got him fired from his job earlier this week.
Luke Fickell's defense has become a major issue, which has been gashed in a way it hasn't been in quite a few years by the Indiana offense.
Give the Hoosiers credit though. They do have plenty of talented playmakers and run a great scheme under Kevin Wilson.
But, this is the same defense that has been burned time and again by spread offenses, which means scheme has become a major problem that needs to be fixed.
Fickell may not necessarily be on the hot seat, but he should at least be officially on notice because it's only a matter of time before the defense—which was supposed to carry this team until the offense got its legs under them—costs them a game this season.
It's still hard to fathom that after seven weeks, Buckeye fans are more confident in the offense than the defense. It feels like a Twilight Zone episode more than anything at this point.
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