Game Week: Indiana

Ohio State continues to march towards the top-four and a spot in the playoffs, and Indiana is up next for the Buckeyes. What did they accomplish by beating Minnesota, and what do the Hoosiers bring to the table?

- Not much to say in regards to the win over Minnesota, because the turnovers skewed what was an otherwise dominating performance, one of their best showings this season. Hard to overplay how good of a win that was last week, factoring in the weather conditions, the possible hangover after Michigan State, and the fact that the Gophers aren't the typical horrid Big Ten opponent.

- Will the win over Minnesota help them this coming Tuesday night? I believe it will. Looking at it closely, and I know this committee will do that, there's just no way to compare Ohio State's seven point win to TCU's four-point win. Ohio State dominated from the start and was never in any danger of losing, while TCU escaped with their lives over a bad team. These people are doing more than just checking scores on Sunday morning. They know the difference is far more than three points on the scoreboard.

- Ohio State simply has to keep winning and let the committee do their jobs. The schedule sets up quite favorably going forward, and winning the next three gets them in, I firmly believe. The Indiana game is not really worth looking at closely, because the final score will be whatever Urban Meyer wants it to be. Figure it's 58-14, and go from there.

- The interesting game will actually be Michigan, and I think it sets up well in terms of impressing the committee. Michigan is playing a little better, so it won't be looked at as beating Illinois or Maryland. Another factor to consider is style points, which become less and less a big deal as the season progresses. If Ohio State blows out Michigan that's fine, but even a field goal win at the buzzer won't hurt you because it will be looked at as a huge rivalry game.

- Wisconsin pounding Nebraska also sets up well for Ohio State, because the Badgers are now looked at as a formidable squad. Their defense is respected and Melvin Gordon is in the Heisman picture, so this is going to be looked at as a big win. If we know anything about college football, it's that there is a lot of losing still possible out there. Instead of worrying about who's in front of them, Ohio State needs three straight wins and if Alabama, Mississippi State, Oregon and Florida State all win out, at least they know they did all they could. And I see no chance all four of those teams win out. Nor do I see a Big-12 team jumping Ohio State the final week. I think Ohio State is in "win-and-you're-in" mode. That's how they need to think as well.

- There's no doubt Ohio State is far better than I ever thought they would be at this point, but they need to finish the deal. The difference in this team to me is J.T. Barrett, and he gives them the passing game they needed to take the next step as a team. That's the biggest difference I see in who they are, versus who I thought they would be. I've liked him from the day he committed, and always thought he would be good. I never thought he would be this good, and he gives Tom Herman and Urban Meyer an expanded playbook to work with.

- Feel badly for Jalin Marshall after last week, but this is Big-Boy football and he'll be far more aware of ball security going forward. The talent is immense though, and he's still a baby in terms of his development. He has to have the football more going forward, and he's finally a player Ohio State fans can start to compare to Percy Harvin. He's nowhere near that point yet, but he still has three years remaining in the program. The speed and the moves are great, but what sets him apart from other pure slot receivers is his strength. Much like Eddie George learned how costly fumbling the football can be, Marshall will learn from this and bounce back a better player. He needs the football going forward for Ohio State to be the best offense they can be.

- If there's an area that is troubling it would be the run defense, and it's popped up the past two games. It didn't come home to roost because both Minnesota and Michigan State were behind, but this could come back to bite them if they fall behind Wisconsin. The problem seems to be with the defensive tackles and also the linebackers, and although not a huge issue right now, it will have to be addressed and solved. There's no reason why these players should not be able to stop the run, because the talent is there and the coaching is fine. Have to believe this is a blip, not a sign of what's to come.

- Coming off the past two wins, I now look at Ohio State as national title contenders. With those two road games staring them in the face it was too soon to think that way a few weeks ago, but now they are in the mix. I do think next year is the year, but you can waste your life away waiting for next year to show up. There are a lot of even teams out there right now, and no superpower in the mix. I do not expect Ohio State to have any problem with Indiana, and I don't see much coming from Michigan either. I have a good idea what's going on there, and it's not pretty. It's a rivalry and anything can happen, but there's not much chance of Michigan coming to Columbus and beating Ohio State. They could fire Brady Hoke that week in an attempt to rally the troops, but I think that party is over.

- Wisconsin will be the season for my thinking, and it has the makings of a great game. The Badgers have the right formula needed to beat Ohio State, and this game could be very, very close. Still three weeks away and they could slip up, so it's too early to start my thinking on that matchup.


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