Indiana must not have gotten the memo that Halloween ended earlier this week, because it gave Ohio State a big scare today in Columbus.
Ohio State (6-3, 3-2 Big Ten) was taken down to the wire, allowing the Hoosiers to stay in the game until the final minutes of the fourth quarter. Indiana's true freshman quarterback, Tre Roberson, threw an interception that set up a Carlos Hyde touchdown with less then three minutes left. This ultimately put the game out of reach, and the final score read 34-20.
Even though the Buckeyes came away with a victory, there's always room for improvement. And in this case, that stands true.
Here is the post game report card on Ohio State's win over Indiana.
As expected, Ohio State had no problem running the ball. Dan Herron, Carlos Hyde and Braxton Miller all surpassed 100 yards and the Buckeyes combined for 346 yards (7.5 YPC) as a team.
"Boom" Herron had a field day, rushing for 141 yards on 14 carries (10.1 YPC) and a touchdown. This was his third 100-yard performance in as many games since returning from his six-game suspension.
Hyde, who was nominated the No. 2 back for today's game after Jordan Hall was ruled out with an ankle injury, had 105 yards off 15 carries (7.0 YPC) and a score. He hadn't played a significant amount time since Herron's return, but he proved he was still a valuable option.
Miller continued to be a huge threat on the ground, racking up 105 yards (including an 81-yard TD run) and two touchdowns. Astonishingly, this accommodated the Hoosiers' six sacks.
The freshman QB had his worst game of the season passing the ball, completing just 5-11 attempts for 55 yards and an interception. Still, the Bucks continued their dominance on the ground and the pass offense clearly wasn't needed.
Finally, the offensive line was adamant, as it led the way for an incredible eight plays over 20 yards.
After its memorable performance over a top-ranked Wisconsin offense just one week ago, the defense was pretty disappointing versus Indiana.
I'll give credit where it's due: Freshman quarterback Tre Roberson played an outstanding game, constantly keeping Ohio State defenders on their feet and tearing for 244 total yards. I had stated in a recent article that he may give the Buckeyes some problems, just as other mobile QBs have this season (Taylor Martinez).
However, from a defensive standpoint, it was almost hideous in the first half. Indiana put together some nice drives, gathering 13 points and 183 yards of offense during the first two quarters. The Bucks' front seven was ineffective and the secondary was soft.
Instead of being all over a true freshman quarterback for a team that came in at 1-8, the OSU defense allowed him to keep the Hoosiers in the game until the final minutes of the game. Other than a late interception and a few last-second sacks, Ohio State didn't look great on the defensive side of the ball.
Drew Basil made his 11th and 12th field goal in-a-row during the matchup against Indiana, and the latter went for 45 yards. After a slow start to the season, he has proved to be a reliable asset to the team and will be needed down the stretch in clutch moments.
However, not one of his kickoffs reached the end zone, and one even fluttered out of bounds. This allowed the Hoosiers' offense great field position on multiple occasions, and that's something that can't happen moving forward.
Also, young receivers Devin Smith and Chris Fields did a decent job of returning kicks, but there was a noticeable difference in the return game with the absence of Jordan Hall.
The coaches received a "C+" for their poor play-calling. "But they had so many explosive plays!" This is true, but if you re-watch the game, the majority of them were busted plays at the line of scrimmage that went for more solely based on the athleticism of the ball-carrier.
First and second downs are always a run up the middle, with a QB draw or short pass on third downs. This is how it's been all season, and although I don't agree with it, it's how it'll continue to be.
But then again, I'm not the coach, and I'm not getting paid the big bucks. Luke Fickell and both coordinators made some nice adjustments during the break, but it would have been nice to see better preparation right off the bat.
Ohio State fans were expecting a blowout win, and deservedly so; the Buckeyes were 27.5-point favorites coming in to the game. Unfortunately, we must understand that this isn't the same team we're used to every year, where a matchup like this usually ends as a 35-3 score in OSU's favor.
As cliche as it may sound, the Buckeyes have to take every game week-by-week and focus on what's most important.
And that's getting a "W".
The game didn't go as many had planned, but Ohio State got the result it needed to stay alive in the Leaders Division race (even if it was ugly). Now it can move on and make the focal point the Purdue Boilermakers.
The Buckeyes, now winners of three straight, have three games remaining on their schedule; all could potentially open the door to a trip to Indianapolis for an appearance in the first-ever Big Ten championship game.