The eighth-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes put their perfect record on the line once more, as they pay a visit to the struggling Indiana Hoosiers this Saturday for a Big Ten Conference affair.
Ohio State has made Urban Meyer's first year as head coach a memorable one to this point, as the team has won each of its first six games. Save for a minor scare from visiting California a few weeks back, the Buckeyes ran roughshod through their non-conference schedule, but the start of Big Ten play meant an upgrade in competition. OSU slipped past Michigan State on the road in the league lidlifter, 17-16, before taking down visiting Nebraska last weekend, 63-38.
Indiana opened the 2012 campaign with wins in its first two games, but since then has dropped three in a row. The Hoosiers' most recent outing took place last week versus Michigan State, and resulted in a tough 31-27 loss. Second- year head coach Kevin Wilson has yet to taste victory in a Big Ten bout, going 0-8 last year and 0-2 this season. Changing that fact this week won't be easy, but perhaps IU will be line for that elusive league win when it plays at Illinois (2-4, 0-2) on Oct. 27.
Ohio State has dominated the all-time series with Indiana (67-12-5), and the Buckeyes have won the last 16 meetings. The Hoosiers' last victory over OSU was a 41-7 rout at home back in 1988.
Despite trailing early, the Buckeyes never lost faith in their recent clash with visiting Nebraska, scoring 56 points in the final three quarters to earn the comfortable victory. QB Braxton Miller ran for 186 yards and a TD, while adding 127 yards and a score in the passing game. Not to be outdone, RB Carlos Hyde had a tremendous game by rushing for 140 yards and four TDs -- the first four-TD rushing game by an OSU running back since Eddie George turned the trick against Iowa on Oct. 28, 1995.
Hyde heaped praise upon the guys who rarely receive any, "I have to give all the credit to the offensive line. If they didn't do their job, we wouldn't have been able to run for 300-plus yards. They were great tonight."
Coach Meyer added to Hyde's comments, speaking favorably about his back and the guys in the trenches.
"When he [Hyde] was getting into the line of scrimmage, it was two, three yards down the field. So with a big guy like that, you get him started, it's hard to bring down. And he has to get started. He wasn't getting started in the first quarter. That offensive line did it in the second quarter, third and fourth."
Ohio State is outscoring the enemy by 18 ppg this season, using a bruising rushing attack (248.7 ypg) to do the bulk of its damage. The offense has generated 29 TDs this season, with 20 of them coming on the ground. Miller has run for 763 yards and eight TDs, while completing 61.5 percent of his passes for 1,060 yards, nine TDs and three interceptions. Corey Brown is the team's leading receiver with 35 grabs for 352 yards, while Devin Smith has turned 19 catches into 351 yards and four scores.
While they amassed 371 rushing yards themselves, the Buckeyes surrendered 223 rushing yards and 437 total yards to the Cornhuskers, but came up with four sacks and four turnovers, one of which resulted in a TD when DB Bradley Roby returned an interception 41 yards to open the scoring.
The Buckeyes also got a special teams score when Brown returned a punt 76 yards for a TD in the third quarter. LB Ryan Shazier led the OSU defense with 11 tackles, and he notched his second sack of the season. After half a dozen games, Shazier leads the team with 59 total tackles, while CB Travis Howard has three interceptions and DL John Simon has three sacks.
The Hoosiers scored all 27 of their points in the first half and held a 10- point lead heading into the fourth quarter of last Saturday's home game with Michigan State, but couldn't hold off the Spartans who wound up earning the narrow victory. QB Cameron Coffman threw for 282 yards and three TDs, hitting WR Shane Wynn a dozen times for 70 yards and a score. As for the Indiana ground attack, it was limited to 35 net yards.
Defensively, the Hoosiers permitted 410 yards, 290 of which came through the air. Neither team recorded a turnover, and only three combined sacks were logged on the day. A total of five IU defenders tallied eight stops on the day, and the defense was credited with nine PBU and six TFL.
Coach Wilson knows his team, while playing well in the first half last week, can't expect to win against top-flight competition unless they compete hard for all four quarters.
"Give credit to their guys and their coaches, they got it done at halftime and played a good second half. You're not going to beat a good team, you're not going to win the Big Ten like that and you're not going to beat good teams if you don't play 60 (minutes)."
The Indiana offense averages a robust 32.8 ppg, utilizing an effective aerial assault (305.2 ypg) to keep opponents off balance. Coffman is a 67.2 percent passer who has thrown for 801 yards with six TDs and only one interception, and Wynn heads the team with 28 receptions, turning them into 213 yards with four scores. Cody Latimer has a club-best 363 receiving yards, and he has found the end zone twice. Stephen Houston is the Hoosiers' top rusher, but he has just 277 yards (55.4 ypg). He has scored four TDs.
On the other side of the ball, Indiana is giving up 27.8 ppg, with foes rolling up 441.0 ypg. The Hoosiers have been particularly lax against the run, yielding 194.8 ypg, with 10 of the opposition's 17 offensive TDs coming on the ground. The unit hasn't had much success wrestling the ball away from opposing offenses, logging just five turnovers, and it averages only two sacks per game. DT Adam Replogle and LB David Cooper have each collected 36 tackles, with the former logging a team-best 2.5 sacks.