If you judged games off just one half, then you would’ve thought the sky was falling after Ohio State trailed Indiana, 14-13, at halftime of the season opener. However, games aren’t judged by one half. The Buckeye offense turned it on after halftime, mostly behind a monster performance on the ground by freshman J.K. Dobbins, who was in his first game ever for the Scarlet and Gray. Dobbins picked up 181 yards on the ground, passing Maurice Clarett’s freshman debut record of 175 yards, in the Buckeyes, 49-21, win versus Indiana.
Quarterback J.T. Barrett and the receiving corps struggled to move the ball in the first half. However, the rushing attack from Dobbins helped wear down the Hoosier defense, leading to Barrett making big pass plays in the third and fourth quarters. Barrett eclipsed the 300-yard mark in the air and scored four total TDs (three in the air, one on the ground).
Over 590 yards of offense from the Buckeyes were put on display in Bloomington, Ind. The Hoosiers put together over 415 yards of offense, however, having less than 20 yards rushing was a big reason why the offense went stagnant in the second half.
If you liked nail-biting halves of football, then you were in for a treat.
The Buckeyes moved down the field on their opening drive, utilizing the arm of Barrett. Freshman running back J.K. Dobbins made his Buckeye debut on the same opening drive, getting four rushes and one pass reception. However, the Buckeyes offense stalled deep in the Hoosier redzone, and settled for a 27-yard field goal by Sean Nuernberger. While the Buckeyes didn’t get the touchdown, Barrett etched his name atop another OSU record: leader for total offensive yards (8,905).
Right after the Buckeye field goal, the Hoosiers came out ready to play on their opening drive. Just like OSU, IU conducted an 11-play drive, but the difference was that Hoosiers quarterback Richard Lagow connected with wide receiver Ian Thomas, who was just able to drag his left foot on the turf, for an 18-yard touchdown—the play was originally called an incompletion, before being overturned on a review.
After the opening drives, both defenses showed up to the stage. IU contained Dobbins and Barrett; the Buckeyes defense clamped down on Lagow making plays, and completely shutdown the running attack.
In the second quarter, Indiana came out swinging once again. It was more of the up-tempo style of attack the Hoosiers utilized in the first quarter. Lagow went back to the passing game, and like in the first, it was a success. The Hoosiers first true drive of the quarter saw them march down deep into OSU territory. Lagow was a big reason for this.
However, with the Hoosiers standing at the OSU 14, Lagow made his first big mistake on the evening: an interception. For Buckeye fans, it really wasn’t considered a mistake. Safety Jordan Fuller brought the pick out of the endzone for 40 yards. Unlike the first quarter, the Kevin Wilson offense picked up momentum. Dobbins had his longest rush of his Buckeye career: a 35-yard sprint. But, once again, the OSU drove deep into IU territory to only stall again. Nuernberger was called upon again, and converted from 19 yards out.
With the score 7-6 in favor of the home team, Mike DeBord’s passing attack again picked apart the Buckeye secondary. Lagow continued to find receivers Thomas and Simmie Cobb, and that would eventually lead to Cobb picking up an eight-yard touchdown reception with Buckeye cornerback Denzel Ward hanging all over him.
Something Urban Meyer and the Bucks did well in the first half was answering back after a Hoosier score. Getting the ball back at the 8:12 mark of the second quarter (following the touchdown that put IU up 14-6), Barrett sorta found a passing rhythm, and Dobbins proved why he was deserving of the preseason hype. The running back from La Grange, Texas had four carries on the Buckeyes’ rebuttal drive—including a 27-yard dash. All this led to OSU making another deep drive into the redzone. Their prior drive reached the two before a field goal; this drive reached the one. Good news, though: Sophomore running back Antonio Williams punched the ball in from 1-yard out.
Dobbins picked up 43 yards on the drive, and crossed the 100-yard plateau in his first game as a Buckeye starter. That’s all the scoring in the first half. Stat-wise, there were some oddities. The Hoosiers had 284 yards of passing against a vaunted Buckeye defense, but only 2 yards of rushing.
The third quarter is where things jumped off the rails real fast. Parris Campbell dropped two wide-open passes from Barrett—one of which was a touchdown catch. On the same drive, OSU faced a 4th-and-2 on the IU 41, and was stopped. After the Hoosiers couldn’t do much (and converted a 3-and-out), the Buckeyes got the ball back and made the most of it. A 13-play drive that started on their own 15 included a lot of Barrett and Dobbins, and was just what the scoring doctor ordered. Barrett rushed the ball past the left guard and tackle, and got his first rushing TD of the season—pushing the Buckeyes to a 20-14 lead.
Just like Ohio State, the home team pulled together a drive as a rebuttal to OSU’s score. And it was a doozy of scoring drive. Lagow “fumbled” the football, and OSU defenseman Robert Landers returned it for a touchdown worthy of consideration for the Piesman Award, however, the play was reviewed, and Indiana got the ball back. The review proved to be costly to OSU, as Lagow went back to Cobb on a couple big plays, leading to another passing touchdown.
Indiana held a 21-20 lead, but things would about to go OSU’s way in a hurry. Campbell redeemed himself with a 74-yard touchdown reception. Another IU three-and-out gave the Scarlet and Gray the ball on their own 25. The 75-yard march to the endzone was completed in just five plays, culminating on a 59-yard TD reception for Johnnie Dixon. For Dixon, a junior, it was his first receiving TD of his Buckeye career. Through three quarters it was Ohio State leading Indiana, 35-21.
The Buckeyes overwhelmed the Hoosiers even more in the fourth quarter. Lagow was sacked and fumbled the ball on his own 11-yard, which led to a quick touchdown strike from Barrett to Binjimen Victor.
After that touchdown at the 12:08 mark, OSU would put the finishing touches on their “comeback” win at Indiana with another rushing TD from Williams.
And just like that, the Buckeyes picked up the 49-21 win on the road. Ohio State plays Oklahoma next Saturday at 7:30 p.m.