Ohio State Buckeyes vs. Indiana Hoosiers Complete Game Preview
The last time Ohio State and Indiana met on the field, the two teams combined for 1,059 total yards and 101 points in a thrilling 52-49 Buckeyes victory.
This year's edition will again feature two explosive offenses, but No. 3 Ohio State is hoping for a more lopsided victory to keep pace in a crowded national title race.
The Buckeyes (10-0) are coming off a 60-35 victory over Illinois. Braxton Miller and Carlos Hyde put up historic numbers as they ripped the Fighting Illini with 430 rushing yards in the 25-point victory.
The Hoosiers (4-6) were averaging more than 43 points per game, but that was before last week's 51-3 blowout loss to Wisconsin. Indiana's offense will be looking to get back on track against an injury-plagued Ohio State defense that struggled against Illinois.
Who are the players to watch? How can Indiana pull off the upset of the year? Get all the details with this complete game preview.
Date: Saturday, Nov. 23
Time: 3:30 p.m. ET
Place: Ohio Stadium; Columbus, Ohio
Spread: The Buckeyes are favored by 34 points, according to Vegas Insider.
Ohio State Keys to Victory
Disregard the Distractions
Despite holding the nation's longest winning streak at 22 games, the Buckeyes are a distant third behind Alabama and Florida State—and losing ground to No. 4 Baylor—in the BCS rankings.
Urban Meyer hinted that his team was distracted against Illinois, focusing more on the BCS standings and a need for style points rather than the Illini, who went on to produce the most points (35) the Buckeyes have allowed all season.
The Hoosiers are more than capable of lighting up the scoreboard—they put up 28 against Michigan State's No. 1 defense and 47 against Michigan's 19th-ranked defense—so Ohio State can't afford to lose focus like they did against Illinois.
The Buckeyes started hot last week, scoring the game's first 28 points before V'Angelo Bentley got Illinois on the board with a 64-yard punt return.
With five minutes left in the first half, Ohio State's defense had surrendered no points, just 77 yards of offense while forcing two turnovers. After two outstanding defensive performances against Penn State and Purdue, the Buckeyes looked to be rolling again.
Illinois quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase changed that quickly, orchestrating a 75-yard, three-minute touchdown drive late in the second quarter.
From that point, Ohio State's defense had a hard time getting off the field. The Illini ended the day with 420 yards of offense, 334 of which Scheelhaase produced.
If the Buckeyes play like they did early against Illinois, they should win easily. If they replicate their second-half effort, Indiana could make a lot of noise.
Indiana Keys to Victory
Spread the Field, Force a Shootout
Indiana won't win a defensive battle, so the Hoosiers will need to spread the field and score a ton of points to upset the Buckeyes.
Kevin Wilson has an offense capable of doing just that. Indiana boasts the nation's 16th-ranked offense, averaging more than 495 yards and 39 points per game.
Quarterback Nate Sudfeld does a good job of getting the ball to his playmakers in space, which creates a lot of one-on-one opportunities for the offense. That's something Ohio State has struggled with this season, so the Hoosiers will look to exploit that weakness.
Load the Box, Force Some Turnovers
Only one team in the country—New Mexico State—gives up more yards per game than Indiana. The Hoosiers have been gashed this year, allowing 535 yards per game.
Indiana doesn't do anything well on defense. The Hoosiers have miserable numbers defending the pass, giving up 287 yards per outing. Pair that with the 251 yards they allow on the ground and it's easy to see why their opponents are averaging 39 points per game.
Indiana's defense is why Ohio State is a near five-touchdown favorite. The Hoosiers will need to be very aggressive and attack the Buckeyes backfield and hope that produces some turnovers.
Players to Watch for the Buckeyes
Carlos Hyde is on the verge of breaking a painful streak for Urban Meyer.
In 12 years as a head coach, Meyer has never produced a 1,000-yard running back. Much of that is due to the workload the quarterback usually gets in Meyer's offense, in addition to a running-back-by committee approach.
That hasn't stopped Meyer from being one of the best coaches in college football, but it does hurt on the recruiting trail.
With 53 rushing yards this Saturday, Hyde will break that streak. Against Indiana's miserable defense, the senior could break the century mark well before halftime.
Joshua Perry didn't make the trip to Illinois after slipping on ice and hitting his head last week.
His return is huge for Ohio State, especially with the Hoosiers on the slate. The Buckeyes use Perry as their middle linebacker in nickel packages, which will be the preferred defense against Indiana's pass-heavy spread offense.
Ohio State is very thin at linebacker, and with Curtis Grant questionable (per May's tweet), the Buckeyes will need Perry even more.
Players to Watch for the Hoosiers
Cody Latimer, who leads the team with 926 receiving yards and eight touchdowns, is Indiana's most consistent playmaker, but Shane Wynn is the player to watch on offense.
In last year's matchup, Wynn torched the Buckeyes with 100 total yards and a touchdown on just four touches. The highlight came in the second quarter when Wynn took a simple crossing route 76 yards to the house.
The 5'7", 170-pound junior is out of Glenville High School, which is the Buckeyes' biggest in-state recruiting pipeline. Ohio State never offered, though, so Wynn will likely relish playing against his home-state team.
There aren't a lot of playmakers on this Indiana defense, but linebacker David Cooper certainly qualifies.
The JUCO transfer had a solid sophomore campaign last year, ranking second on the team with 86 total tackles, including nine tackles for loss.
This year, Cooper has emerged as a leader. The Hoosiers will certainly need a big game from their middle linebacker, especially in tracking down Carlos Hyde and Braxton Miller in the run game.
Kevin Wilson is concerned about the number of playmakers Ohio State has, and if Cooper can get in the backfield and make things difficult for Miller, it will make defending the Buckeyes much easier.
What They Are Saying
The offensive line and Carlos Hyde have proven over and over again they can take over games. That's who we are.
One thing about Carlos Hyde is, because of our formation, we're really just running him into a stack of 20 guys. From the spread with his skill set, he's the perfect back for what we're looking for.
Indiana's Kevin Wilson talked about what went wrong against Wisconsin, via the school's official website:
Offensively, we had no one play as poor as we played, not this year, but in several years. We didn't handle the elements, didn't handle the road, didn't handle their defense very well. They played very, very well. But we were off and didn't run it and didn't connect in the passing game.
Ohio State's Christian Bryant, who suffered a season-ending ankle injury against Wisconsin, is excited for senior day, according to Kyle Rowland of Eleven Warriors:
It will be one of those emotional days for me. It could possibly be my last game in the Shoe. Just walking out and seeing the fans’ reaction to me walking out of the tunnel for the last time in the ‘Shoe, I feel like it’s probably going to be a great experience.
Indiana's Tre Roberson was frustrated with scoring just three points against Wisconsin, according to The Indiana Daily Student:
It was real frustrating because, as an offense, we’re not used to that. We worked during the week and the offseason so that we can come out and score a multitude of points.
Ohio State 63, Indiana 24
On senior day in the 'Shoe, Ohio State will have no problem with Indiana.
The Buckeyes will start hot, scoring the first 21 points before Indiana gets on the board with a field goal early in the second quarter. Ohio State will answer with three more second-quarter touchdowns before eventually taking a 42-10 lead into halftime.
After the break, Indiana will get a quick score, but the Buckeyes defense will tighten until a garbage-time touchdown from the Hoosiers. Kenny Guiton will play most of the second half and account for all three of Ohio State's touchdowns.
Braxton Miller will finish the day with 185 passing yards, 80 rushing yards and three total touchdowns. Hyde, in two-and-a-half quarters of action, will run for 145 yards and two touchdowns.
The victory will be Ohio State's 23rd in a row, which will be the new school record.
All stats via NCAA.com.
David Regimbal is the Ohio State Football Lead Writer for Bleacher Report.
Follow him on Twitter @davidreg412.
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