IU OTs Andrew McDonald & James Brewer vs. OSU DEs Nathan Williams & Cameron Heyward – Forget about the fact that Illinois took Ohio State down to the wire before falling 24-13 last weekend. Forget about the notion the Ohio State offense will be limited because of a quad injury to Terrelle Pryor that could limit his effectiveness Saturday afternoon. If Indiana is going to hang around with the nation's second-ranked team in Columbus, it's going to have to score points in bunches to keep pace. And that means Hoosier quarterback Ben Chappell is going to have to put together another huge statistical afternoon to make that happen. For him to have a chance to do that, though, it will be imperative that McDonald and Brewer keep Williams and Heyward from applying too much pressure off the edges. Ohio State sacked Chappell three times in last year's game in Bloomington and they'll look to disrupt the Hoosier passing attack with more of the same this year. If McDonald and Brewer are unable to give Chappell enough time to throw, IU will be forced to go max protect more often, which would in turn take Ted Bolser out of the passing game equation.
OSU WRs DeVier Posey and Dane Sanzenbacher vs. IU CBs Matt Ernest and Adrian Burks – The confidence level of the Hoosier cornerbacks isn't at a very high level these days. Richard Council, who gave up the late Denard Robinson pass completion that set up Michigan's winning touchdown last weekend, suffered a significant knee injury on the play and is sidelined indefinitely. Ernest, meanwhile, had his own struggles against Michigan, most notably when failing to make a handful of tackles in the open field. Things could have been even worse had Robinson not badly overthrown wide open receivers on a couple of deep throws where IU cornerbacks bit on pump fakes and allowed Michigan's wide receivers to race by them and get behind the defense. The Hoosier covermen will have to put a bad weekend behind them and turn their attention to keeping Posey and Sanzenbacher in check. While neither players' stats are overwhelming this year (Sanzenbacher 23 catches, 351 yards, 6 TDs; Posey 18 catches, 261 yards and 2 TDs), both are capable of making the big play. Expect to see Pryor not only test IU's corners deep, but also with some bubble screens to see if the secondary is any better at tackling in the open field this time around.
IU DTs Mick Mentzer, Adam Replogle, Larry Black and Nick Sliger vs. OSU Offensive Line – The first challenge for Indiana's defense every time it faces the Buckeyes is the same – avoid getting dominated by the Buckeye offensive line. From an offensive standpoint Jim Tressel teams will be as simple as the opposing defense allows it to be, and that has generally meant that the Buckeyes have run directly at and over the Hoosiers on an annual basis. Last year the Buckeyes did just that, running it 47 times for 219 yards, dominating the time of possession, and ultimately whipped IU, 33-14. It will be up to Mentzer, Replogle and Co. to keep from getting dominated at the line of scrimmage and thus allowing Buckeye tailbacks Brandon Saine and Dan Herron from getting 6, 7 and 8 yards a pop. If last week's effort against Michigan is any indication there's plenty of reason to be concerned – IU didn't record a single tackle for loss all afternoon, suggesting there wasn't a whole lot of push from IU's defensive front against the Wolverines.
On Monday – Five Numbers to Note
On Tuesday – Four Names to Know
On Wednesday – Three Key Match-Ups
On Thursday – Two Big Concerns
On Friday – One Bold Prediction
OHIO STATE: Three Days and Counting
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