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I Got Five On It: The week after Penn State can’t be worse than last year

There’s only one Iowa reference in here, we promise.

NCAA Football: Ohio State at Penn State James Lang-USA TODAY Sports

It’s time for another edition of I Got Five on it. Last week, I said J.K. Dobbins would do his best work in stealth mode (very yes), and prayed that the linebackers would play OK (very no), as Ohio State beat Penn State by one point in their most thrilling win... since last year’s one-point win over Penn State.

I think I speak for us all in hoping that this week’s contest with Indiana is much less thrilling.

As you’re well aware, this series is stupid, and despite not beating Ohio State since 1988, Indiana’s been a real pain in the ass to play lately. Add in last week’s emotional win, and this is a classic letdown spot. Let’s hope it goes better than the week after playing Penn State last year!

Now that you’ve been sufficiently scarred, let’s get into what I’m looking for tomorrow:

Not again, please

Here’s a quick rundown of this series in the Urban Meyer era:

2012: What even:

2013: Braxton Miller lands on his head:

2014: Ohio State trails 20-14 with two and a half minutes left in the third quarter thanks to Tevon Coleman’s 8 billion yards rushing, then Jalin Marshall goes full supernova:

2015: Ezekiel Elliott’s 274 yards rushing carry Ohio State in a game they had no business winning. (Spicy opinion: They cost themselves back-to-back national titles by not just losing this game to get their asses in gear before the Michigan State fiasco. I’ll die on that hill.)

2016: J.T. Barrett goes 9-21 passing (!) for 93 yards (!!!!), but runs for 137 yards in a forgettable game that Ohio State only leads by seven with four minutes left in the third quarter in. A Tim Beck masterpiece.

2017: J.K. Dobbins runs for 181 yards in his debut. Ohio State trails by one with five minutes left in the third, but scores four unanswered touchdowns to win by 28.

Outside of this list being a prime example of why other fanbases hate Ohio State fans for complaining about wins, you can see why it’s OK to approach this one with a bit of trepidation given recent history.

Big plays

Do you realize that Ohio State has a penchant

For allowing

Massive plays?

The good news is that Indiana is near the bottom of the country in producing big plays, so Ohio State’s safeties shouldn’t —in theory— be eating dirt trying to make the chasedown tackle attempts you see above. The bad news is that if Indiana *does* produce those big plays, we can officially move past the, “Huh, this is really concerning” talk and glide right into, “Huh, this is probably going to cost them a shot at the playoff!” talk.

A wild kick return touchdown appears

To stick with tradition during Indiana week, I’m calling for Ohio State’s kick return touchdown drought to end.

The last one was almost eight years ago, when Jordan Hall sliced and diced Michigan, and everything was right in our pre-sanctions/pre-high definition world:

I have nothing to back up that this will actually happen, but let’s roll with it. Bonus points if it’s C.J. Saunders who does it to get the angry frat boys fired up in my mentions.

About the run game

Take it for what it’s worth, but Ohio State’s posted back-to-back games of under four yards per carry for the first time since the end of the 2012 season. I don’t know what that means for the long-term health of the running game, but to this point, I think it’s fair to say they’ve been collectively underwhelming.

The line isn’t adept at getting the strong push we’ve seen from past groups, while J.K. Dobbins, and Mike Weber aren’t consistently breaking off medium chunk plays, let alone large ones. The improvement in the passing game kind of offsets this dip in rushing explosiveness, but it’s still a little jarring to see an Urban Meyer offense struggle to put up big rushing numbers.

I’m not expecting that it’s fixed tomorrow— Indiana’s been middle-of-the-pack when it comes to allowing big runs— but it’s an area of the offense that needs improvement heading into the heart of conference play.

Keeping watch

This has nothing to do with the Ohio State game, but I’ve got some of my attention focused on East Lansing tomorrow:

Nobody pulls off the “No one’s talking about us BLAM WE JUST BEAT YOU AND RUINED YOUR SEASON, NOW WE WIN THE CONFERENCE TITLE!” routine better than Michigan State. That’s the exact position they’re in right now thanks to their hilarious loss to Arizona State, and you know that Mark Dantonio secretly loves it.

We’ll see how for real they are the next few weeks with games at Penn State and versus Michigan, but they’ve officially popped up on my radar and are worth keeping an eye on, before Ohio State’s trip up north a month from now.

That’s it for this week’s I Got Five on it. Join me next Friday, as I try and create the most horrific and nightmare-inducing photoshops of Goldy Gopher.