Jalin Marshall returned a punt 54 yards for a touchdown to give No. 7 Ohio State the lead late in the third quarter and added three late insurance scores to lead the Buckeyes past Indiana 42-27 Saturday, the Hoosiers' sixth loss in a row.
The surprisingly tight game for most of the day could impact the playoff hopes of the Buckeyes (10-1, 7-0 Big Ten, No. 6 CFP), who clinched the East Division title and a berth in the conference title game.
They trailed the 34-point underdogs 20-14 after Tevin Coleman sped 90 yards for a TD midway through the third quarter. A week after rushing for 307 yards, Coleman went for 228 yards on 27 carries for three scores for the Hoosiers (3-8, 0-7).
Marshall caught fourth-quarter scoring passes of 6, 15 and 54 yards to put the game out of reach.
The Hoosiers' last chance at a tying score ended with Tyvis Powell picking off a pass from Zander Diamont with 4:25 left, deep in Indiana territory.
Despite the up-and-down day for the Buckeyes, J.T. Barrett set the school mark for touchdown passes (33) in a season and Ezekiel Elliott, who had 107 yards on 13 carries, topped 1,000 yards. Barrett completed 25 of 35 passes for 302 yards and four scores with two interceptions, and ran for 78 yards on 20 attempts.
On IU's second possession of the second half, Coleman took a simple handoff left, bounced outside the designated hole and streaked down the sideline. The 210-pound sophomore was pulling away from two Ohio State defensive backs over the last 50 yards, too.
Once in jeopardy of being run out of the chilly stadium, the Hoosiers were now ahead 20-14. A crowd of 101,426 at Ohio Stadium sounded more like 1,426.
But that all changed late in the quarter after an anemic 35 minutes by Ohio State when Marshall took a low, line-drive punt, avoided an early tackle and then sidestepped punter Erich Toth for the 54-yard return to allow the Buckeyes to regain the lead.
Marshall scored on a shovel pass in the fourth quarter and made a one-handed grab of a Barrett pass to swell the lead to 35-20 with just over 4 minutes left. He added a 54-yard catch-and-run to make the score more lopsided.
Coleman added a 52-yard TD sprint with just 1:13 left.
Diamont, starting after Indiana's top three QBs all were sidelined by injury, completed 11 of 27 passes for 114 yards with one interception.
The first half was a weird mix of hot and cold for the teams, no middle ground.
The Buckeyes, favored by 34 points, cruised down the field for touchdowns on their first two series, taking just three plays and 1:11 off the clock before Elliott burst untouched through a chasm up the middle on a 65-yard scoring run. After forcing Indiana into a three-and-out that exhausted just 31 seconds, they blended runs by Elliott and Barrett with Barrett's 3-for-3 passing in a nine-play drive that made it look easy.
Somehow, someway, things changed.
Diamont helped turn the tide with a 53-yard scramble on third and 12 that set up Coleman's 2-yard TD plunge. On the next play from scrimmage, Barrett hit Michael Thomas who fumbled the ball away to the Hoosiers' Zack Shaw and Indiana picked up a 30-yard field goal by Griffin Oakes to make it 14-10.
Ohio State turned the ball over on the next two possessions, too, each resulting in interceptions by Antonio Allen. Barrett badly overthrew a receiver on the first and the second was a pass near the Indiana end zone off Evan Spencer's hands into Allen's.
Oakes later booted a 37-yard field goal to draw the Hoosiers within a point, but they mismanaged two drives — both of which got to Ohio State territory — to close out the half.
The Buckeyes, meanwhile, who came in averaging 45 points a game, continued to look confused, punting without gaining a first down the final two times they had the ball in the half.
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