Saturday, Oct. 13
8 p.m. ET, BTN
Memorial Stadium; Bloomington, Ind.
Head coach: Kevin Wilson, 3-14, second year
2011 record: 1-11 (0-8 Big Ten Leaders Division, last place)
Series mark: Ohio State leads 68-12-5
School location: Bloomington, Ind.
Colors: Crimson and Cream
Stadium: Memorial Stadium
Fight song: "Indiana, Our Indiana"
Game Notes, including depth chart on page 11
For years, this game has simply been a glorified practice for the Ohio State football team.
Even a year ago, Indiana played the Buckeyes tough, but Ohio State still pulled away to a 34-20 victory. That extended a streak of 14 consecutive games between the teams that the Buckeyes have won by 10 points or more.
In addition, the Buckeyes haven't lost to Indiana since falling, 41-7, in Bloomington in 1988. In all, the Buckeyes are 18-0-1 in their last 19 games against the Hoosiers, and second-year head coach Kevin Wilson knows the challenge is a difficult one for Indiana this weekend.
"You don't want to make it easy for a really good offense and a really good player," Wilson said, referring to OSU quarterback Braxton Miller. "At the same time, dynamically, it's not like we have the team that's just going to mulch you up, keep you on the sideline and bleed you to death."
Still, there is room for optimism in the Hoosiers camp. Indiana does run a fast-paced, no-huddle spread offense that has had a lot of success putting points on the board this year, but the team's defense leaves something to be desired having been gashed by its last three foes.
Another struggle for the Hoosiers has been playing a complete game this year. Nowhere was that more evident than last week, when Indiana took an early 17-0 lead on Michigan State, led 27-14 at halftime but couldn't get anything going as the Spartans came back to win in Memorial Stadium.
Perhaps the team's inability to play a full game has something to do with its youth. Twenty-two of the 29 players to start a game this season have been underclassmen, and the squad has only eight seniors – only five of which came to Bloomington on scholarship – on the roster.
"We just need to keep chipping away, keep getting better every single day at practice, keep getting better and it's going to happen," starting quarterback Cameron Coffman said after losing to MSU. "You saw how good we can be when we're playing well, but we're not into moral victories and we fully expected to beat that team, and we didn't."
In A Nutshell
Called an innovator of the spread by OSU head coach Urban Meyer, Wilson came to Indiana with a reputation for offensive success after working with up-tempo, high-scoring squads at Northwestern and Oklahoma, and he hasn't disappointed when it comes to putting points on the board.
Indiana was held below 20 points only three times last year, and this season, the Hoosiers and their hurry-up offense have topped the 24-point barrier in each contest. Overall, the squad leads the Big Ten in passing with 304.8 yards per game and is second with 472.4 total yards. The Hoosiers are fifth in the league with 32.8 points per game, and the squad has 17 scoring drives of 70 or more yards this season.
They've accomplished those marks largely without starting quarterback Tre Roberson, who seemed poised for a standout sophomore campaign before suffering a serious leg injury during a blowout win vs. Massachusetts on Sept. 8.
The Hoosiers haven't missed much of a beat, though, thanks to Coffman and Nate Sudfeld, who have split time in Roberson's stead. Coffman played the entire Michigan State game, and the pocket passer has gone 86 for 126 (67.2 percent) for 801 yards, six touchdowns and one interception. Sudfeld is a true freshman who has gone 25 for 40 (62.5 percent) for 357 yards, three touchdowns and no picks.
Indiana uses a one-back offense, with junior Stephen Houston, sophomore D'Angelo Roberts and true freshman Tevin Coleman splitting time. After posting 711 rushing yards in eight starts last season, the powerful Houston is the team's leading rusher through five games with 52 rushes for 277 yards and four touchdowns. Houston also has 14 catches for 117 yards and a score. Roberts and Coleman have both rushed for 177 yards on the season.
The Hoosiers generally use a three wideout set, and they have a deep corps of players who have been effective at the college level thus far in their careers. So far, speedster Shane Wynn is atop the team's receptions chart with 26 on the year. He's a constant target on screen passes and other ball-control plays, as the sophomore turned his grabs into 213 yards and a team-best four touchdowns.
Sophomore Cody Latimer is more of a big-play target with 20 catches for 363 yards (a 18.1-yard average) and two touchdowns. Junior Kofi Hughes has come back from an early season injury to total 16 grabs for 248 yards and two touchdowns. Juniors Duwyce Wilson, a freshman star two seasons ago, and Jamonne Chester each have 12 catches on the year
Indiana's starting tight end is junior Ted Bolser, who had five touchdowns as a freshman two years ago and has 15 catches for 161 yards and a touchdown this year.
The Hoosiers' starting five up front has not changed in the first five games, with senior center Will Matte leading the way. Matte is projected to start his 40th consecutive game vs. OSU. Indiana starts a pair of true freshmen, left tackle Jason Spriggs and right guard Dan Feeney. Bernard Taylor had a solid freshman campaign last year and starts at LG, while right tackle Peyton Eckert is a sophomore.
The Hoosiers defense still has a long way to go. Indiana is 11th or 12th in every major statistical category in the Big Ten and is allowing 444.0 yards per game and 27.8 points.
There isn't much experience on the Indiana defense, but the one place there is some is at defensive tackle. Seniors Adam Replogle, Larry Black Jr. and Nicholas Sliger have played 38 of Indiana's last 40 games together and are old hands in the middle of the defense. Replogle has 149 career tackles including a team-high 36 this year, while Black has 13 stops and 4.5 TFL. Sliger has seven tackles.
As experienced as Indiana is on the interior line, they're that young on the outside. Sophomore Ryan Phillis starts on the left side and has 16 tackles and notched his first career sack vs. UMass. Redshirt freshman Zack Shaw (6-3, 245) is the right end and has nine stops. Sophomore end John Laihinin started the first two games and has two TFL, while sophomore Bobby Richardson played a lot last year and has nine tackles.
Indiana has dipped into the JUCO ranks to fill out its linebacking corps, and first-year Hoosiers Jacarri Alexander and David Cooper have become starters. Cooper has 36 tackles and four TFL, while Alexander has 21 tackles as the strongside starter. He splits time with sophomore Forisse "Flo" Hardin, who has 17 stops. On the weak side, junior Griffen Dalhstrom has 14 tackles and a sack since taking over for injured sophomore Chase Hoobler.
All four starters in the secondary are sophomores. Safety Mark Murphy had 76 tackles last year and has 31 this season, while Drew Hardin (Flo's brother) has 17 tackles. On the corners, Brian Williams has defended eight passes, third in the league, while Kenny Mullen starts on the other side and has 29 stops. Greg Heban is the No. 5 DB, and the 2011 starter has 26 tackles and a pick.
Mitch Ewald is a good kicker, but he's 5 of 8 this year with a long of 46. Erich Toth averages 41.3 yards per punt in place of injured Mitchell Voss. Both Wynn and Coleman have returned kickoffs for touchdowns the past two years, and they combine to be the top kick return unit in the league. Track All-American Nick Stoner is the punt returner.
Possible Ohio State edges: Ohio State should be able to move the ball well, especially on the ground, as Indiana has a struggling defense. The Buckeyes also should fare well against the IU rush offense.
Possible Indiana edges: The Hoosiers have a high-tempo, high-octane offense that should keep the Buckeyes off balance with bubble screens.
Sept. 1: vs. Indiana State, W 24-17. Indiana pulled away behind an outstanding outing by quarterback Tre Roberson, who ran and threw for a touchdown while amassing a career-high 280 passing yards.
Sept. 8: at UMass in Foxborough, W 45-6. Tre Roberson ran for 114 yards and two touchdowns while throwing for a score, but his season ended when he suffered a serious leg injury.
Sept. 15: vs. Ball State, L 41-39. Indiana staged a furious rally, scoring two touchdowns in the last five minutes, before a game-winning field goal for the Cardinals at the buzzer. IU threw for 423 yards.
Sept. 29: at Northwestern, L 44-29. Indiana allowed 704 yards to Northwestern but did score all of its points in the second half.
Oct. 6: vs. Michigan State, L 31-27. Indiana raced out to a 17-0, first-quarter lead but managed only two first downs in the second half as MSU battled back for the win.
Each week, we'll endeavor to ask five questions of an opposing team expert to try to bring some unique insight into that squad. This week, John of The Crimson Quarry joins us.
1. What's been the vibe around this year's Indiana team? Has there been progress in year two of the Kevin Wilson era?
I think the vibe is better than it was last year. This team has been better than last year's version. The offense has looked very good at times, and the defense showed some glimmers against Michigan State. Had IU been able to finish the Michigan State game (let alone the Ball State game), people would be happier, but it's getting better.
2. What has Indiana's offense looked like since Tre Roberson was injured? Just looking at the stats, it seems like Cameron Coffman and Nate Sudfeld don't bring the mobility Roberson did.
Coffman and Sudfeld definitely don't bring that sort of mobility. Of course, in IU's first game against Indiana State, Roberson only ran a couple of times, so there definitely was a focus on making him a pass-first QB. Against UMass, he did break two long TD runs but then was injured in the second quarter, so it's tough to say what the offense really would have looked like had Roberson remained healthy. It's a fast-paced offense, with no huddle and lots of high percentage passes involved. The general look is the same, although I think having Roberson's improvisational ability would have helped.
3. What do IU's skill players bring to the table? Can you highlight a few that really stand out?
Other than the QBs, Stephen Houston has been good at RB, and at WR, Kofi Hughes has stood out. Shane Wynn is very good, if undersized, at WR and as a kick return. Tevin Coleman is a very promising true freshman RB who returned a kickoff for a TD against Northwestern. Tight end Ted Bolser has bounced back from a rough sophomore year.
4. Defensively, is there anything Indiana can hang its hat on as it prepares to take on Ohio State?
I think they can hang their hat on showing some signs of life against Michigan State. Although they wore down when the IU offense couldn't keep them off the field, IU forced MSU to punt on seven of the Spartans' first ten possessions. MSU's offense isn't very good, but it's progress for a defense that generally has been torched by everyone.
5. Indiana's attendance is up this year, but obviously a lot of Ohio State fans always make the trip over to Bloomington for this game. What kind of atmosphere can fans expect to see on Saturday night?
IU is on fall break, so student attendance probably will be down. Still, with the OSU influx I would expect something close to a capacity crowd with plenty of support for both teams. We'll see if it matters.
Five Fast Facts
1. Indiana has scored 107 points in the first half this year but only 57 in the last two quarters.
2. After years of flagging attendance, the Hoosiers are doing better this year. An average of 45,349 fans has attended the first three games this year in Memorial Stadium, an increase on last year's mark of 41,380.
3. Indiana assistant head coach and co-defensive coordinator Doug Mallory is the son of IU's all-time winningest coach, Bill Mallory, a one-time Woody Hayes assistant at Ohio State.
4. Seventeen Hoosiers hail from Ohio, including starting DT Black (Cincinnaty Wyoming), TE Bolser (Cincinnati Indian Hill), LB Hoobler (Orrville), WR Latimer (Dayton Jefferson), S Murphy (Akron SVSM), DE Phillis (Youngstown Boardman), DT Replogle (Centerville), DE Shaw (Coshocton) and WR Wynn (Cleveland Glenville).
5. Indiana does not name permanent captains until the end of the year, but Will Matte and Adam Replogle have been named captains for every game this season.
Last Time Out
In a game that was often much too close for comfort, Ohio State broke a 20-20 third-quarter tie with a pair of late touchdowns to score a 34-20 victory Saturday over Indiana before 105,195 sometimes-restless fans in Ohio Stadium.
The Hoosiers entered the game on a six-game losing streak and winless in the Big Ten, but they gamely gave the Buckeyes all they could handle through three quarters. IU raced out to a 10-0 lead midway through the first quarter and tied the score at 20 with 6:56 remaining in the third quarter.
But OSU was just too much. Freshman quarterback Braxton Miller broke the tie with a 20-yard touchdown scramble with nine seconds left in the third period and the Buckeyes tacked on a late 2-yard scoring run by sophomore tailback Carlos Hyde.
Miller (14 carries for 105 yards), Hyde (15-105) and senior tailback Boom Herron (14-141) each rushed for at least 100 yards in the contest, the first time since 1989 that Ohio State had three players crack the century mark on the ground. Dante Lee (157), Scottie Graham (102) and Carlos Snow (100) did it during a 52-27 win at Northwestern.
The trio of 100-yard rushers allowed the Buckeyes to account for a season-high 346 yards on the ground. The passing attack wasn't nearly as effective, however. Miller finished 5 for 11 for 55 yards with an interception and he was sacked six times.
Indiana finished with 333 yards of total offense, much of it attributable to freshman quarterback Tre Roberson. He rushed 20 times for 70 yards and connected on 11 of 21 pass attempts for 174 yards and one touchdown. But Roberson also pitched a crucial interception during a late fourth-quarter drive that could have tied the score.
"Well, the most important thing was we came out with a win," OSU head coach Luke Fickell told reporters after the game. "I thought the key going to the game was to keep our poise and our energy level up after last week's big win and I'm not sure that showed up."
But the first-year head coach disagreed when someone suggested that an inevitable letdown after last week's emotional win over Wisconsin was a byproduct of his youthful team.
"I don't agree there was a letdown," Fickell said. "Our guys fought hard and played hard. (Indiana) is a good football team. I know their record doesn't show it. But they played hard and you have to give them credit. Yes, maybe we had some of youth show up in some of our checks, but in the end we got the win and I thought our guys fought hard."
The Hoosiers drew first blood when kicker Mitch Ewald's 35-yard field goal capped an 11-play, 42-yard drive for a 3-0 lead at the 10:47 mark of The Opening period.
Indiana really made the Horseshoe faithful squirm 3½ minutes later when running back Stephen Houston took a direct snap and danced into the end zone from 5 yards out. Ewald's PAT made it 10-0 for the upstart visitors with 7:17 left in the first quarter.
But Miller rallied his team and the crowd with a dazzling broken-field run, zigging and sagging his way for an 81-yard touchdown run. It was sixth longest run from scrimmage in Ohio State history and the longest by a quarterback wiping out a 76-yard run by Rex Kern during a 48-29 victory at Illinois in 1970. OSU kicker Drew Basil added the extra point following Miller's dash, making it 10-7 at the 5:58 mark.
Basil tied the game with a 36-yard field goal just 53 seconds into the second period and then added a 45-yarder at the 8:43 mark to give the Buckeyes a 13-10 lead. The three-pointers extended Basil's streak to 11 and 12 consecutive field goals, the third longest streak in program history. Mike Nugent had 24 in a row during the 2001 and 2002 seasons while Vlade Janakievski booted 15 in a row in 1979 and '80. Ewald tacked on a 25-yard field goal with 4:30 remaining in the second quarter to set the halftime score at 13-13.
The game remained tight when the teams traded third-quarter touchdowns. Ohio State took advantage of a short field to score on a 15-yard run by Herron at the 10:05 mark, and then Indiana answered on a 34-yard pass from Roberson to receiver Kofi Hughes to knot things at 20 all with 6:56 remaining in the third period. Hughes was the leading receiver in the game with eight catches for 147 yards.
Miller moved the Buckeyes back in front at the end of the quarter, engineering a 13-play, 80-yard drive that culminated in a 20-yard touchdown scamper that gave the Buckeyes a 27-20 advantage with 0:09 showing on the clock.
Indiana watched another scoring threat go by the boards at the 9:11 mark of the fourth quarter when Ewald pulled a 40-yard field goal attempt wide to the left. The miss wasn't totally the IU kicker's fault – the Hoosiers were penalized for a false start right before Ewald's kick, making the attempt a 40-yarder instead of 35.
OSU escaped disaster on the first play of the next drive when Herron fumbled and Miller barely recovered at his own 13-yard line. The freshman quarterback later scrambled 13 yards on a third-and-11 to sustain the drive, but the possession ended in a punt with 5:49 remaining.
Roberson did his best to rally his team and got a couple of first downs, finding Hughes for an 18-yard gain on a third-and-10 and then following with a 12-yard run to push the ball to the OSU 44. But on the next play, the Indiana QB tried to get the ball to receiver Jamonne Chester down the sideline, but the throw went into double coverage and OSU cornerback Travis Howard grabbed his second interception of the year.
Two plays later, Hyde exploded for a 47-yard run to the Indiana 4, and then two plays after that, the sophomore blew up the middle for the 2-yard dagger with 2:41 remaining.