Remember how every season, Indiana plays Ohio State pretty close for a half or so before Ohio State’s talent and depth ultimately helps them pull away? Us too! However, no matter how much we know that Ohio State has done this pretty much every year since the 90s, there’s still a little bit of fear when Indiana is still hanging around at halftime every year.
This year was no different. Indiana struck first, nearly took a ten point lead after forcing a Mike Weber fumble, and kept the game close for the entire first half, trailing just 28-20 after 30 minutes. Ohio State kicked off the second half with a massive 71-yard touchdown pass to Parris Campbell, and even with an Indiana touchdown cutting the lead to nine (2-pt conversion was no good), it never really felt in doubt in the second half.
A Terry McLaurin touchdown and a beautiful grab in the back of the end zone from Binjimen Victor in the fourth quarter sealed it officially, and after a scare in the first half, Ohio State locked up bowl eligibility, grabbing their sixth win and remaining undefeated. It wasn’t pretty, but a win is a win. Let’s buy and sell some Buckeye stock!
Dwayne Haskins, QB: He’s baaaaaaaaack! After a rough showing downfield last week against Penn State, Haskins bounced back in a big way against Indiana, completing 33 of 44 passes for 455 yards and six touchdowns. If that yardage number feels high, it’s because he came up just three yards short of the school single game passing yards record.
While it wasn’t all great for Haskins, as he threw two interceptions, had a couple baffling third down decisions, and ran a bit too much (this is on the staff though); he proved once again that he’s right up there with Tua Tagovailoa in the Heisman race.
Binjimen Victor, WR: All Binjimen Victor does is make big plays, and he proved that once again when he reeled in a massive 30-yard touchdown pass to seal the deal. He extended as far as he could, and pulled in the Haskins pass, making one of the most impressive catches I’ve seen all season long.
I said it last week too, but I think it’s worth repeating. Bin Victor should be a starting receiver on this team. It’s tough, because I really don’t think any of Austin Mack, Parris Campbell, Dixon, Terry McLaurin or K.J. Hill deserve to lose their spot, but I do think that the rotation of those five needs to move to include Victor as well. Things seem to be heading that way, for good reason.
Pete Werner, LB: Welcome to the blue-chip stocks list, linebackers room! It’s been a dreadful year for the linebackers, and the Indiana game wasn’t much better for Tuf Borland or Malik Harrison, but I was actually pretty impressed with Pete Werner. He had a sack, four tackles, and a surprisingly good day in coverage.
He wasn’t great when matched up with receivers, because having a linebacker— any linebacker— cover receivers on the outside is stupid, but that’s more of a Greg Schiano issue. He did hold his own several times though, as he came up with three break-ups, including one on third down, and one that was nearly an interception. I still think Ohio State should play nickel full time, but Werner should be one of the two linebackers.
Parris Campbell, WR: He still didn’t do much down the field, but it was another big day for the leader of the receivers, Parris Campbell. He had nine receptions for 142 yards, and two scores. Only three of his receptions went for more than ten yards (13, 18, 71), but the latter two were both touchdowns. Campbell isn’t a super dynamic receiver, but he knows what he is. He’s really damn fast, and can turn routine catches into huge plays. That’s a valuable asset for this team.
Isaiah Pryor, S: Another somewhat surprising appearance, but I was pretty impressed with Pryor in this one. With him out for the first half, Ohio State’s defense was gashed ten times, and had pretty much no answer for the big plays from an offense not known for big plays. While Pryor didn’t stop those completely, his presence in the defensive backfield contributed to just one chunk play, and only six points for the Hoosiers in the second half. He’s not anywhere near a finished product, but this was a good bounce back performance.
Offensive play calling: It wasn’t as much of an issue in the second half, but the first half had some pretty rough offensive play-calling. It felt a lot like the Urban Meyer offenses of old, as Dwayne Haskins ran on several designed QB scrambles, and the passing attack continued to operate almost exclusively from ten yards and under. Ohio State needs to be willing to throw the ball down the field, because Haskins is more than capable of it, as he proved when given the opportunity. They seemed to figure that out in the second half, but Ohio State can’t keep relying on second half adjustments and expect to not get upset by a better team.
Greg Schiano’s scheme: For the past couple of years, Greg Schiano’s scheme was a perfect fit for Ohio State’s personnel. His aggressive, press-heavy scheme with a roaming safety worked perfectly when Denzel Ward, Gareon Conley, Marshon Lattimore, Malik Hooker, and Damon Webb were running it. Ohio State doesn’t have those guys anymore.
Damon Arnette is a great slot corner, but he’s not a lockdown guy. Jeffrey Okudah and Kendall Sheffield make far too many mistakes to be considered elite. The only lockdown corner Ohio State has is Shaun Wade, and they don’t play him.
That means Greg Schiano needs to adapt, and fix the issues. He needs to stop putting linebackers in man coverage on receivers, put Shaun Wade on the field full-time, move Damon Arnette to slot corner, and run with a zone focused nickel defense full-time. This defense isn’t good enough to be as aggressive as Schiano wants, and he still hasn’t figured that out, even though they’re halfway through the year.
Buy: Ohio State is a passing team. Once again, the best part of Ohio State’s offense was Haskins, and the passing attack. These receivers can all make plays, they’re blocking, and they’ve seemingly fully bought in. The line isn’t great, but they can generally keep Haskins upright. Meanwhile, the running game isn’t awful, but it’s not great. The backs don’t really make big plays, and there’s rarely enough push for consistent power running. It’s strange to say, but this is a passing team. They need to embrace that.
Sell: Jonathan Cooper being ready. I like Jonathan Cooper’s game a lot. I think he’s a great athlete, and when he’s starting alongside Chase Young next year, he should be awesome. However, for the second-straight game, he didn’t do much of anything here. He knocked a pass down at the line, but he didn’t have a tackle, and did a pretty bad job of keeping contain on Peyton Ramsey early on in the game. He’s a good player, but he’s certainly no Nick Bosa.
Sell: Kendall Sheffield draft stock. Kendall Sheffield being considered a future first-round pick has never made much sense to me, and nothing he’s done to this point in the season gives me any reason to change my mind. He’s fast, he’s a great athlete, and he doesn’t know how to play cornerback yet. His technique is sloppy, he correctly gets called for a ton of pass interference penalties, and in general, he just gets burnt way too much for my taste. I know the NFL loves athletes and developmental guys, but I just don’t see it here.