Indiana vs. Ohio State: 10 Things We Learned in Buckeyes' Win
On a snowy Saturday in Columbus, Ohio, the third-ranked Buckeyes notched a school record 23rd consecutive victory against Indiana, beating the Hoosiers 42-14 in Ohio Stadium.
Ohio State, now 11-0, bounced back from a shaky defensive performance against Illinois last week to limit Indiana's high-powered offense to just 14 points.
Braxton Miller and Carlos Hyde set the tone offensively, especially on the ground, as the Buckeyes imposed their will on the overmatched Hoosiers defense.
Here's what we learned from Ohio State's 28-point victory.
Snow and Wind Make It Hard to Put Up Style Points
The below-freezing temperature and high-blowing wind made it hard for both offenses to operate at times, especially at the beginning of the second half, limiting what both teams could do.
For Ohio State, that meant the offense went to a run-heavy attack. Braxton Miller threw just 17 passes as the Buckeyes were more than happy to go take advantage of Indiana's leaky run defense.
Keeping the ball on the ground probably kept points off the board.
In the ever-present need for style points, Ohio State was unable to open up its offense completely.
That didn't stop the Buckeyes from putting together a dominant performance, but there's no question that the weather limited the Buckeyes offensively.
Braxton Miller Wants to Run the Ball
In the weeks following Braxton Miller's return from an MCL sprain, the junior quarterback looked hesitant to run and lacked his usual explosiveness.
Over the last two weeks, Miller is looking like his old self.
Against Illinois and Indiana, Miller ran 29 times for 328 yards—averaging 11.3 yards per rush—to complement three touchdowns.
Miller set a career high with 184 rushing yards against the Illini, which also set the Ohio State single-game rushing record by a quarterback.
While those two performances came against two of the Big Ten's worst defenses, Miller is showing a greater willingness to run, and when he hits the second level, he's displaying the burst that makes him one of the most dangerous weapons in college football.
Ryan Shazier Is Playing Next-Level Football
It's no secret that Ryan Shazier is one of the better linebackers in the Big Ten, but over the last two weeks, he has been playing like one of the best in the country.
Against the Hoosiers, Shazier tied two school record, according to Ohio State spokesperson Jerry Emig. The linebacker notched 16 solo tackles, tying the mark set by Tom Cousineau in 1975 while also piling up five tackles for loss, which is a record held by four other former Buckeyes.
It's unclear whether Shazier will forgo his senior season and enter the NFL draft, but Eric Edholm of Yahoo! Sports projected the linebacker to go No. 23 overall to the Detroit Lions last Thursday.
If that was Shazier's last game in Ohio Stadium—what a way to go out.
Dontre Wilson's Involvement Fluctuates Greatly from Week to Week
Dontre Wilson's involvement in Ohio State's offense fluctuates greatly on a week-to-week basis.
Over the course of the Buckeyes' last four games, Wilson's offensive touches read like a roller coaster: three against Penn State, eight against Purdue, one against Illinois and then seven against Indiana.
When Wilson gets touches, he shows you the game-changing speed that makes this offense really dangerous.
The freshman showed off that speed on a jet sweep late in the third quarter. The Buckeyes were nearing Indiana's red zone, Wilson shifted and Miller pitched him the ball on the move.
Wilson hit the perimeter and raced 24 yards for the touchdown to give Ohio State a 35-0 lead.
Perhaps Urban Meyer and the Buckeyes will unleash Wilson on the Michigan defense next week.
Joshua Perry Is an Important Cog in Ohio State's Defense
The Buckeyes didn't have Joshua Perry for their matchup against Illinois last week, and his absence was felt in a big way.
Illinois constantly attacked underneath Ohio State's deep coverage, an area that Perry is usually responsible for in the Buckeyes' nickel packages. That allowed Illinois to pile up 420 yards of total offense and 35 points, which was the most allowed by Ohio State all year.
The 6'4", 246-pound linebacker was back against Indiana, and Ohio State benefited greatly. Perry registered nine total tackles, which ranked third on the team, but his presence was a notable upgrade to a defense that played much better against the conference's second-best offense.
Cam Burrows Is a Capable Cornerback
Doran Grant, Ohio State's second cornerback behind Bradley Roby, suffered a mysterious injury midway through the Indiana game. While Grant is expected back for the Michigan game, per Kyle Rowland of Eleven Warriors, his injury forced freshman cornerback Cam Burrows into the game.
It turns out this freshman can play.
Burrows made a number of very impressive plays in pass coverage. His best play, though, was his touchdown-saving pass breakup against Cody Latimer, which is Indiana's most dangerous receiver.
This is very forward thinking, but with Bradley Roby announcing his intentions to go to the NFL after the season, Burrows looks like a guy who will be ready to step in and play at a high level next year.
Special Teams Stepped Up Big After a Down Week
The Buckeyes had a rough outing on special teams against Illinois when V'Angelo Bentley took a punt and returned it 67 yards for a touchdown.
Ohio State bounced back in a big way against Indiana. The Buckeyes didn't allow a single return yard on two Cameron Johnston punts, but the punt-block unit came up with one of the biggest plays of the game.
Early in the second quarter, Bradley Roby came off the edge and blocked Erich Toth's punt.
It set Ohio State's offense up inside Indiana's 10-yard line, and two plays later, Carlos Hyde punched it in to make it a 21-0 game.
Urban Meyer, who has a huge involvement coaching Ohio State's special teams, had to be pleased with the way his team bounced back against Indiana.
This Team Is Historically Good, and Fans Should Appreciate That
Regardless of how the BCS shakes out, the Buckeyes are doing something that no other team in school history has achieved.
That should be celebrated.
Of course, it's frustrating for fans to see their team being degraded by national media and pollsters alike, but that shouldn't rob those folks of the historic run their team is putting together.
The victory over Indiana set the school record for most consecutive victories and also clinched the team's second division title in a row.
Ramzy Nasrallah of Eleven Warriors wrote a terrific piece urging fans to focus on how good this team is as opposed to worrying about its poll position.
Wouldn't it be more fun to cheer on your own team as opposed to worrying about how many points Baylor scored this week?
It's Ohio State and Michigan State for the B1G Title
Yes, the Buckeyes made history with their 23rd consecutive victory, but they also punched their ticket to the Big Ten title game, where they'll face off against a very good Michigan State team.
With its win over Wisconsin earlier this year and a one-game lead over the Badgers, Ohio State could lose next week and still advance due to the tiebreaker.
With the Big Ten title game set, Ohio State knows it will be facing the country's best defense in two weeks. The Spartans lead the country, allowing just 228 total yards and 57 rushing yards per game.
That strength will meet the Buckeyes' strength, which is their offense. Ohio State ranks fourth in the country with 49 points per game, and its 315 rushing-yards average ranks fifth.
Needless to say, it's going to be a battle.
All That Aside... It's Michigan Week
With Indiana out of the way, Ohio State can finally focus on the game it has had circled on the calendar all year.
It's finally Michigan week.
The Buckeyes needed to make a concerted effort to focus on Indiana, because looking ahead to your biggest rival would be a mistake against the Hoosiers. Kevin Wilson's Indiana squad has the offense to play with just about anyone, and Ohio State looked like a focused team this Saturday.
Now, everything shifts to the Wolverines.
Michigan has struggled mightily this season and will limp into the game with a 7-4 record. The Wolverines offense is struggling, averaging just 16.8 points per game over the last four games.
Those numbers can be thrown out the window, though, as anything can happen in a rivalry game. The Buckeyes, though, have to be confident heading into Ann Arbor this week.
Unless otherwise noted, 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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