The no. 5 Ohio State Buckeyes said that there is no margin for error in the Big Ten East Division this year as they get ready for a road trip this week to face the Indiana Hoosiers.
While the Hoosiers haven’t beaten Ohio State since 1988, they did give the Buckeyes a tough game last year. Nevertheless, the Buckeyes are 21-point road favorites, with the over/under set at 60.5 points.
At 2-4, Indiana is going to have a tough time just getting to a bowl this year after such a promising 2020 campaign. In fairness to the Hoosiers, Indiana’s losses this year have come against Iowa, Cincinnati, Penn State, and Michigan State, and most teams would go 0-4 against that schedule. However, the Hoosiers know they need to pull off an upset at some point to become bowl eligible this year.
As for the Buckeyes, an early-season loss to Oregon has taken away their safety net with regard to the College Football Playoff. It’s also far from a sure thing that Ohio State will win the Big Ten East and play for a conference title.
Of course, the challenge for the Buckeyes could be not taking Indiana lightly, knowing that there are three top-10 teams left on their schedule, including a home date with Penn State next week.
Ever since that loss to Oregon, the Buckeyes have showcased one of the most balanced offenses in the country. Led by TreVeyon Henderson, Ohio State’s three-headed backfield is helping the Buckeyes average over 200 rushing yards per game. At the same time, quarterback C.J. Stroud is starting to settle in with Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson, who make up arguably the best receiving tandem in the country.
Defensively, the Buckeyes have also come a long way since the early part of the season. They’ve allowed just 37 total points over their last three games, albeit against lesser competition. Nevertheless, Ohio State is dominating at the line of scrimmage and has forced seven turnovers in the team’s three Big Ten games.
Part of the problem for Indiana this year has been losing quarterback Michael Penix to a separated shoulder two weeks ago. Backup Jack Tuttle started last week’s game against Michigan State but averaged just 3.6 yards per pass while strong two interceptions.
It’s also worth noting that the Hoosiers are averaging just 3.4 yards per carry on the ground this season, so neither quarterback has received much support from the running game.
In fairness, the Indiana defense has helped the Hoosiers stay competitive in most games despite their offensive struggles. They held the nation’s leading rusher, Kenneth Walker, to just 84 yards and 3.7 yards per carry last week, which is no small feat.
Surprisingly, the Hoosiers have held Penn State and Michigan State to just 44 total points over the last two weeks, so all is not lost for Indiana.
Not 2020 Anymore
While the Hoosiers deserve some credit for staying competitive with tough teams despite all that has gone wrong for them, a third straight top-10 opponent will be too much.
A balanced Ohio State offense should move the ball against the IU defense, and the Hoosiers don’t have the playmakers on offense to keep pace. Bet on the Buckeyes to pull away in the second half and cover the 21-point spread.
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