5 Questions: Indiana at Ohio State

Ohio State returns to the field this Saturday to take on a struggling Indiana team that has not presented much competition in recent years. We look at five questions the Buckeyes will need to answer to continue building on their two-game winning streak.

1. Will the Buckeyes be ready to go at the opening kickoff?

Perhaps a slow start will be understandable this weekend as Ohio State comes off a month of playing only ranked opponents, including a last-minute, come-from-behind thrill against Wisconsin last week.

The noon start time is something to be aware of as well. The Buckeyes have not had such an early start at home since a somewhat lackluster 27-22 win over Toledo way back on Sept. 10.

"We haven't had a noon game in a while, so it's something that's harped on each and every day and it's a big part of it," Ohio State head coach Luke Fickell said. "You gotta get out. You've got to start fast and you've gotta do the same things you've been doing, but you've got to make sure that the preparation is where it starts."

2. Can Ohio State work on the passing game?

The situation is not quite the same, but last season the Buckeyes used inferior foes such as Indiana and Ohio University to work on timing and execution with a passing game that had trouble getting in sync in the first half of the season.

There is no better way to improve than to log reps, and games snaps are the best kind.

Indiana comes to town with a defense 118th in the nation in pass efficiency. Calling the secondary young might be an understatement. The depth chart consists of five freshmen, two sophomores and a junior.

3. Will the Hoosiers' offensive tempo bother the Ohio State defense?

While defense has been a major struggle, Indiana can move the ball a little bit. The running game is downright decent (163.6 yards per game, good for a No. 54 national ranking that is by far the Hoosiers' best in any major category), and it has been on a particular role lately. The Hoosiers have eclipsed 200 yards rushing in three consecutive games, including a 319-yard effort against Northwestern last weekend.

They are far from running the high-powered, up-tempo offense that made a name for head coach Kevin Wilson when he was offensive coordinator at Oklahoma, but they will use a no-huddle attack at times. That is not something Ohio State has seen much of lately, but it has bothered the Buckeyes at times in past seasons.

4. What kind of impact will the Hoosiers from Ohio have on the contest?

Sixteen players on the Indiana roster call Ohio their native state, including six starters. Dayton Jefferson freshman Cody Latimer starts at wide receiver while the defense includes linemen Larry Black Jr. (Cincinnati Wyoming), Adam Replogle (Centerville) and Ryan Phillis (Youngstown Boardman), linebacker Chase Hoobler (Orrville) and safety Mark Murphy (Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary).

Murphy is the team's leading tackler with 36 stops while Replogle leads in sacks with four.

The most likely player to have an impact, however, could be freshman receiver Shane Wynn. The Cleveland Glenville product averages 20.7 yards per kickoff return and took one 99 yards for a touchdown against Illinois. Wynn leads the Hoosiers in all-purpose yards (109.6 per game).

Sophomore tight end Ted Bolser (Cincinnati Indiana Hill) is listed as the backup to Max Dedmond, but Bolser has 12 catches for 126 yards and a touchdown in Big Ten play.

5. Can any Buckeye pad some stats?

This has been the case in more than Ohio State-Indiana matchup in the past 10 years regardless of the state of the Buckeye offense.

Struggling Ohio State scoring units got fat on the Hoosiers in 2003 and '04 and to a lesser extent in 2001.

Last season, the Buckeyes bounced back from their worst offensive performance to date (a 24-13 win at Illinois) by dropping 38 on the Hoosiers. That includes a 31-point outburst in the first half.

A better chance to improve the numbers for what is the country's 110th-ranked offense does not figure to come along this season.

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