Ohio State fans are a notoriously demanding group. Buckeye Nation expects not only to win, but to win convincingly against perceived — or actual — inferior competition. Fortunately for Ohio State fans, the players and coaches are fully aware of these demands, and also recognize the need for improvement.
The Buckeyes will return home after their immensely unsatisfying 21-7 win at Northwestern, recognizing the need for improvement on both sides of the ball. A long-time B1G rival, the Indiana Hoosiers will come into Ohio Stadium with a 3-6 record, fresh off a 45-14 home thumping by Penn State. Unfortunately for Indiana, the mood and atmosphere seems ripe for the Buckeyes to take the Hoosiers behind the proverbial woodshed.
Below are Three Things To Watch from Indiana as this game kicks off on FOX at 12:00 p.m. ET...
- The Ohio State running game vs. Indiana’s run defense
Indiana’s run defense is giving up an average of 159 yards per game on the ground, and the Hoosiers present an opportunity for the Buckeyes to reestablish a running game that has been largely dormant and inadequate since their bye week on Oct. 15. A question I have, and have had over these last few weeks, is if freshman running back Dallan Hayden will get an extended opportunity for more playing time.
Nagging injuries to TreVeyon Henderson and Miyan Williams are concerning, and it certainly seems logical to get Hayden and Chip Trayanum more involved in the running game, especially with THE GAME two weeks away. While I am not advocating for Henderson or Williams to not play, it certainly makes sense to me to get Hayden and Trayanum into the game once things have been decided, running the ball extensively to get a sense of relief that the Buckeyes are well-positioned and their backups will be able to effectively contribute at crunch time, if needed.
2. Ohio State’s defensive line vs. Indiana’s running game
Indiana has a running back by committee approach, with the team averaging only about 2.6 yards per carry. Considering how effective Northwestern was able to run against Ohio State last week, this game could go a long way towards calming Ohio State fans’ fears about being able to clamp down an opposing team’s running game. Ohio State has a plethora of defensive linemen being rotated throughout — similar to the point up above, it may make sense if the Buckeyes rest their key starters in the second half once the game has been decided, knowing that they need those players to be 100% healthy for the physical running game that they will see on Nov. 26.
3. What is hoing on with the Ohio State offensive line?
This area is directly related to the first point, but the Ohio State offensive line has not been playing well since the bye week. Starting guards Donovan Jackson and Matthew Jones are being indirectly singled out for their struggles with the Ohio State running game, and could be nursing injuries. Look for key backups Enokk Vimahi and Josh Fryar to possibly be inserted into the lineup, especially if the coaching staff determines that rest is needed for either/both Jones and Jackson.
Unlike the game last week at Northwestern, the weather in Ohio Stadium is expected to be crisp, but not blustery. On our latest Silver Bullets Podcast, my podcast partner Michael Citro and I believed that Indiana is going to be feeling some wrath from Ohio State in this contest. I have it Ohio State 56, Indiana 7.