Ohio State Football: 5 Things We Should Know About the Indiana Hoosiers
After a shocking, yet satisfying last-second victory over the Russell Wilson-led Wisconsin Badgers last weekend, the Ohio State Buckeyes now control their destiny to a Big Ten Championship.
Ohio State (5-3, 2-2) finds itself positioned for success, skyrocketing to second place in the Leaders Division. Penn State (8-1, 5-0) is in first place with three difficult tasks ahead; the Nittany Lions still have to play Nebraska, the Buckeyes and Wisconsin before thinking about a title game opportunity.
No one is doubting the Buckeyes' remaining schedule, as they still have quite a ways to go before considering themselves a contender. However, none are doubting their ability anymore, either, especially after last Saturday's performance.
What lies ahead is in coach Luke Fickell and true freshman quarterback Braxton Miller's hands. Their responsibilities play a major role to this young team's progress, and moving forward is the only option.
That said, next up are the Indiana Hoosiers.
The Indiana Hoosiers Are...
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If I had to describe the Indiana Hoosiers football team in one word, it'd be "incompetent." It's brutally honest, yes, but honest nonetheless.
Indiana is 1-8 (0-5) and currently on a six-game losing streak; its sole victory came in Week 3 when the Hoosiers beat the Division 1-AA South Carolina State Bulldogs (5-4, 4-2 MEAC) by a score of 38-21.
They have losses to Ball State, Virginia, North Texas and, most recently, Northwestern, among others. These particular schools have a combined 16-18 record in 2011.
To make matters worse, Indiana still has to travel to Ohio State and Michigan State before taking on the Purdue Boilermakers at home in a last effort for its second win.
The Hoosiers haven't had a winning record since 2007 and haven't defeated the Buckeyes since 1988, which was in Bloomington.
Head Coach Kevin Wilson
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This is Kevin Wilson's first year as a head coach for any school. Before his hiring in 2010, he had numerous assistant coaching stints for different schools.
From 1984-86, he served as a graduate assistant on North Carolina's staff; the following season went on to be the offensive line coach for Winston-Salem State; in '88, he became North Carolina AT&T's offensive coordinator.
The next year, he decided to coach high school football, which didn't last very long. His Fred T. Foard Tigers went 0-10 before he came back to the college level, coaching Miami (FL)'s offensive linemen and quarterbacks (was also the OC) from 1990-98.
In 1999, Wilson became Northwestern's offensive coordinator and QBs coach. He was later nominated assistant head coach. From 2002-10, he controlled most of the offensive plays for the Oklahoma Sooners, also serving as the tight ends and full backs coach.
This was when Wilson got offered a full-time head coaching job at the collegiate level—his first ever—by Indiana University. He accepted, and his Hoosiers are currently 1-8 and at the bottom of the Big Ten.
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I'll say this about Indiana's offense: it's better than the defense.
The Hoosiers rank 75th out of 120 in the passing game (214.4 yards per game), they are 54th with the running game (163.6 ypg), and score just over 23 points per contest (89th).
During their current six-game losing streak, the Hoosiers are being outscored 244-120—that's an average score of 27 to 13. In fact, over their last four games, they're losing by an average of over four touchdowns a game; 28.8 points!
Sophomore tailback Stephen Houston is undoubtedly the leader of the offense, averaging 97 yards off 18 carries (5.4 ypc) and a touchdown over his last five appearances. However, the Buckeyes defensive front seven was stellar against Wisconsin, shutting down the conference's leading rusher, Montee Ball.
Indiana will need a lot of help from its own freshman quarterback, Tre Roberson, who was recently given the reigns.
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Drum roll, please.
Indiana ranks 114th on defense in points allowed (36.2 per game), and gives an average of 458.4 offensive yards, with only 223.7 of those being through the air.
Yes, you read correctly.
The Hoosiers front seven is by far the worst in the Big Ten, giving up about 235 yards rushing each time out. The secondary has performed decently, but this is mostly due to the fact that teams come in knowing they'll be able to run the ball all over the place.
The opposition has ran for over 200 yards six times this season and over 300 yards on three separate occasions—one of those being against the Wisconsin Badgers (332).
If Ohio State can hold the Badgers to just 89 yards rushing—who had a field day against the Hoosiers—what are the limitations for Boom Herron?
One Player to Watch
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Freshman quarterback Tre Roberson is the only player on Indiana's roster that can give Ohio State any sort of fits.
So far, he is 43-of-72 (59.7 percent) for 524 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. He's compiled a 124.5 passer rating, which is 18.6 points lower than OSU's Braxton Miller.
But it's not his arm alone that could potentially give the Buckeyes defense some problems.
Roberson is an extremely athletic, mobile QB—much like Miller—and has rushed for 267 yards off 67 carries (4.3 ypc), finding the end zone twice. He ran for 121 yards in last week's loss to Northwestern.
If you look back at the Nebraska game, it was Taylor Martinez's dual-threat ability that ended up being a huge factor in the outcome. Ohio State defenders struggled with decision-making, not knowing whether or not he was going to pass or run.
It's a long shot, obviously, but if the Hoosiers want any chance of pulling the implausible upset, Roberson will have to have the best game of his young career.
And then some.