Last season, Ohio State rolled in to Bloomington fresh off a 63-38 smack down of Nebraska in a prime time Horsehoe beatdown, and expected Indiana to roll over and die. They didn't, and when it was over, the Buckeyes had barely escaped with their unbeaten streak intact, winning by a 52-49 margin that wasn't decided until the Buckeyes recovered an onside kick with under a minute to go.
I have a feeling that's not going to happen this year, for a few reasons.
At the end of the day, this is still Indiana we're talking about. Look, has Indiana gotten better under Kevin Wilson? Yes and no. Yes in that their offense is legitimately good. they've scored 28 points or more in eight of their 10 games, and the Hoosiers are 17th in the country in scoring offense. Nate Sudfeld and Tre Roberson have thrown for 3,000 yards and have a TD/INT ratio of better than 2/1. Barring something catastrophic, sophomore RB Tevin Coleman will be the first Indiana running back to break 1,000 yards since Levron Williams did...in 2001. Seriously, that's almost an entire generation of Hoosier football fans that have not seen a 1,000 yard rusher.
Holy crap, man. Holeeee crap.
But as impressive as those accomplishments are, the Hoosiers are still woefully Hoosier-ish on defense. They're 117th in scoring defense, 122nd in rushing defense, 118th in passing defense,and 124th in total defense. Out of 125 teams.
Again...holy crap, man. Holy. Crap.
So basically, Indiana has a very good offense, and the worst defense in the country, literally. Ohio State is going to be ready for them, and unlike last year, they won't be caught unprepared. Now this may seem like an unpleasant truth I'm about to throw down here, but Indiana is going to get their points and yards. It's not going to be 49 like last year, but they've scored 24 points in every game except one. They hung 28 on Michigan State, and they're one of the best defenses in the country, so don't go all RAWR FIRE LUKE FICKELL RAWR RAWR RAWR when Indiana scores 28 or 31 points. Because...
Ohio State might score 100. Okay, this is an exaggeration...or maybe it's not. Okay, it is. But let's put it this way...Ohio State is at home, needing to put a whipping on Indiana to try and make a dent in the BCS standings, and they have one of the most potent offenses in college football. They can run with a punishing inside game, beat you on the edge with guys like Dontre Wilson, or throw the ball to one of several targets that can house it from anywhere on the field. The Buckeyes are going to be able to score at will, and after what Wisconsin did to them on the ground, this might approach FAMU territory in terms of scoring.
Granted, if Indiana scores 31 points, the narrative will be that OSU struggled to put Indiana away, even if they score 80, so just get ready for it. Accept it, don't get pissed, and just wait for Alabama or FSU to lose. Because if OSU ultimately moves into the #2 slot, it'll be so worth it. Trust me on this.
The game is at home. This shouldn't make a difference, because I think OSU could beat Indiana at home, on the road, on the dark side of the moon, or anywhere else. If there's one thing where a game at the 'Shoe could make a difference, it might be in the performance of the defense. The home crowd could get the defense fired up early, and a dominating performance against a very good offense could help ease the jittery nerves of some folks in the fan base.
Is Kevin Wilson coaching for his job, and could that motivate Indiana to pull a major upset? No...and no. Wilson is raising the bar, I don't think there's any denying that. Coming in to the season, a bowl game was a reasonable expectation based on the improvement of the offense, an expectation of the defense being better because it couldn't be worse than it was last year (but it actually is), and a fairly manageable schedule. So this season has been somewhat disappointing, but Wilson is safe, at least for now. Going in to next season he'll need to vastly improve the defense, or he will be coaching for his job this time next year. But yeah, the Taliban could come in and take all the loved ones for the Hoosier football team hostage and threaten bodily harm if they don't beat OSU, and it won't matter. Indiana's getting curb stomped. They know it, OSU knows it, and Indiana knows that OSU knows.
So, TL;DR: Indiana is going to score their fair share of points, but OSU is going to score more. A lot more. Soooooo much more. NCAA '14 on rookie or varsity level more.