When yours truly looked at the 2012 schedule, never did I imagine that the week before this game would be the one in which Head Coach Urban Meyer would hang 60+ on an opponent. This game was supposed to be our conference cupcake game, not Nebraska. The Buckeyes head into Bloomington for the second night game in a row and look to continue their hot streak and come back to Columbus 7-0.
Yet, this is not a game that should be overlooked. Indiana’s offense plays right into Ohio State’s weaknesses and a sloppy team looking ahead could find themselves in an early hole trying to dig out. We saw a little of that last week against the Huskers and though we also witnessed them pulling it back in dramatic fashion, will lightning strike twice in consecutive weeks should the Buckeyes find themselves behind early?
These are all questions that will be answered on the field this evening. For now, Buckeye Empire brings you our previews and predictions in the way that only we can. Let’s get started.
This is where Indiana and Ohio State might match up most evenly, only due to the style that the Hoosiers run. Head Coach Kevin Wilson runs a lot of screen and slant routes to open up the offense in a method not terribly unlike Meyer. If the Ohio State defense continues to play 5-8 yards off their man, they will undoubtedly be shredded for first down after first down. They aren’t the most prolific running attack in the conference, coming in at 7th with an average of 164 yards per game on the ground compared to Ohio State’s 248.
But as said above, they absolutely make up for it in the passing game, ranking #1 in the Big Ten in passing offense as the only team to average more than 300 yards passing per game this season, nearly 50 yards a game more than their closest competitor, Michigan State. This area is also one of concern with the Buckeyes, ranked dead last in the conference with only 182 yards per game passing. If the Buckeyes can’t make it work with Carlos Hyde on the ground again in tandem with Braxton Miller and have to rely on Miller’s arm, this could get ugly quickly.
Nebraska woke up the beast. Now the beast is hungry. Hungry for tackles and sacks. John Simon probably knows what a Hoosier is, yet cares not. He will come for you in the night like an assassin and will cause you to lose yardage in big chunks. He does not care that you are tied for the conference lead in sacks allowed. That number will grow and grow as the night goes on. With Nathan Williams out, Simon and Johnathan Hankins will carry the load on the defensive line and hope that some young enterprising Freshman get in on the act. Look for Noah Spence to see significant time tonight.
Braxton should get plenty of time to allow plays to develop, though he shouldn’t need it at this point in the season. Indiana’s defense ranks near the bottom half of the conference in most categories so Miller should be able to pick it apart and run wild on them. Even if he does have to make things happen through the air, he should feel confident that his receivers like Corey Brown and Devin Smith can make plays and get separation on their defensive backs. Indiana has only 3 picks on the season compared to the Buckeyes’ 10 interceptions. This arena definitely goes the way of the Scarlet and Gray.
Advantage: Ohio State
Coaching, Special Teams, Intangibles
Until we see some significant special teams play on the kicking side, there’s not much to predict here. We hope that Buchanan doesn’t see the field often and though Drew Basil only has two field goal attempts on the year (both good) that’s just fine with us. We like the end zone. So does Drew.
The Freak Show will smother the Hoosier punt return game, but watch for the kickoff returns (of which there should be many) because Indiana is, so far, the only team in the conference with a kickoff return for a touchdown. The Hoosiers will try to make their home field night game a difference maker but in all honesty it shouldn’t matter.
So long as the Buckeye’s avoid falling too far behind during their first quarter siesta, this game should be well in hand by halftime and Kenny Guiton will be serenading Bloomington with smooth jazz by the fourth. The Buckeyes will head home to get ready to Pink Out Purdue with eyes on ending the season with something special for their new Head Coach.
Advantage: Ohio State
Final Score Prediction: Ohio State 45 – Indiana 12