Indiana vs. Ohio State may be closer than expected

Pat Lovell-US PRESSWIRE

After the Hoosiers took an embarrassing loss to the Wisconsin Badgers last Saturday, the prevailing perspective seems to be that they will not be able to hold their own against Ohio State. The Buckeyes would do well to not buy into that idea.

Indiana is coming off of a relatively humiliating loss to Wisconsin in Camp Randall. The Badgers absolutely exerted their will upon the Hoosiers, amassing 676 yards of total offense and scoring 51 points while allowing Indiana just one measly field goal.

As a result, Indiana is being pretty much counted out against the Buckeyes on Sunday. Tom Dienhart of the Big Ten Network has the Indiana/Ohio State matchup ranked last on his slate of Big Ten games for this Saturday, because he simply does not expect it to be competitive. Certainly, Ohio State fans hope that is the case. However, the Hoosiers' loss to Wisconsin last week was inconsistent with the way they have played offensively all season.

This is an Indiana scoring offense that is ranked second in the Big Ten (behind Ohio State, of course) averaging just under 40 points per game--a far cry from the three they scored last Saturday. The Hoosiers are ranked third in the Big Ten in total offense, averaging 496.8 yards per game, and first in passing offense with 306.9 yards per game, on average. The Hoosiers' 28 passing touchdowns is second in the Big Ten, trailing Ohio State by three touchdowns. Their rushing attack is ranked sixth in the Big Ten, but a middle of the pack ground game has been adequate considering how prolific they are through the air. In Indiana's four wins, quarterback Nate Sudfeld has posted a rating of 183.4, which would place him fourth in the entire NCAA if it were consistent in their losses as well.

Last year's matchup with Indiana was much closer than anticipated for the Buckeyes. The Buckeyes pulled off the win to remain undefeated by a narrow three-point margin, 52-49, after being outscored 35-28 in the second half. It took an Ohio State recovery of an onside kick late in the game to seal the victory.

The Hoosiers do have to visit Ohio Stadium to take on the Buckeyes, and they have not played well on the road this season. The Hoosiers have lost all three road games they have played this season, to Michigan State, Michigan and Wisconsin. Additionally, Indiana's defense has not looked like it's up for the challenge of containing Ohio State's high-powered offensive attack. Indiana ranks dead last in the Big Ten for points allowed, passing yards allowed and total offensive yards allowed.

The football Buckeyes have bigger aspirations than just maintaining a winning streak, or locking up a Big Ten title bid. To get to where they want to go, they can't afford to look past opponents, even if they outmatch them easily on paper. To Urban Meyer's credit, he is keeping the team's focus where it needs to be -- on beating Indiana on Saturday.

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