The Hoosiers, who entered the game winless in the Big Ten, were a more than four touchdown underdog. Meanwhile, Ohio State wanted to post an impressive win to impress the College Football Playoff committee, who placed the Buckeyes No. 6 in its latest rankings.
That, as it has been said, is why they play the game. Ohio State turnovers – and big plays by the Indiana offense – kept the game close through much of the afternoon. Ohio State scored touchdowns on its first two offensive possessions, but the Hoosiers responded with the next 20 points to take a lead in the third quarter.
In the end, Ohio State’s specialists turned the tide and helped the Buckeyes post a 42-27 victory in front of 101,426 fans – many of whom arrived late because of icy conditions in Ohio’s capital city in the hours leading up to the noon kickoff. A key punt by Cameron Johnston set up a punt return for a touchdown by redshirt freshman Jalin Marshall that gave the Buckeyes (10-1, 7-0 Big Ten) the lead for good late in the third quarter and helped clinch the Big Ten’s East division.
Marshall’s 54-yard punt return was the first of four touchdowns he scored against the Hoosiers – all coming in the second half. He finished with 151 all-purpose yards a week after losing a pair of fumbles at Minnesota.
Redshirt freshman quarterback J.T. Barrett had some ups and downs in his 11th collegiate start. He completed 25 of 35 passes for 302 yards with four touchdowns, but Indiana also intercepted a pair of his passes for two of Ohio State’s three turnovers. Barrett also added 78 rushing yards.
Sophomore Ezekiel Elliott had another solid effort to lead the Buckeye rushing attack. He scored an early touchdown and finished the afternoon with 107 yards. He also caught seven passes for 39 yards. Senior tight end Jeff Heuerman added five receptions for 74 yards and a score. Marshall caught three of his TD passes, hauling in five passes for 95 yards.
Indiana was led by standout tailback Tevin Coleman, who rushed for 228 yards and three touchdowns – including a 90-yard run that gave the Hoosiers the lead in the third quarter. Coleman became the first OSU opponent to rush for more than 200 yards since Penn State’s Eric McCoo totaled 211 in 1999.
Freshman quarterback Zander Diamont, the third player to play under center for the Hoosiers this season, added 114 yards on 11 of 27 passing and rushed for 42 more. Cleveland Glenville product Shane Wynn was Diamont’s top target, catching seven passes for 93 yards.
Surviving A Scare
Ohio State needed just three plays to get the scoring started. Indiana won the toss and deferred, allowing the Buckeyes to start the game on offense. Barrett started the march with a pair of completions out wide to Elliott for 7 yards and Marshall for 4 before Elliott took a handoff and went up the middle through a big hole produced by the OSU offensive line.
Elliott went untouched 65 yards for a touchdown, giving Ohio State a 7-0 lead after Sean Nuernberger added a PAT with just 71 seconds elapsed off the scoreboard.
The run pushed Elliott over the 1,000-yard mark. He became the second Urban Meyer tailback to reach that total, joining Carlos Hyde last season. The 65-yard run was Elliott’s career long, topping his previous of 47 yards.
Indiana was held to a three-and-out on its first possession of the afternoon, and Ohio State doubled its lead on its next drive. This one took longer – nine plays, taking 4:34 off the clock – but ended with another touchdown. The Buckeyes quickly moved into IU territory before the Hoosiers attempted to mount a defensive stand.
On first-and-10 at the IU 11, Barrett was sacked by defensive tackle Darius Latham for a 5-yard loss. Barrett then got the yardage back on a QB run on second down, and following a false start penalty on sophomore wide receiver Michael Thomas, Barrett tossed a 12-yard completion to Heuerman.
That brought up a fourth-and-3 at the IU 4, and Meyer kept his offense on the field. Using a quick pace, Heuerman rolled into the right flat and caught a 4-yard touchdown pass.
The PAT by Nuernberger made it 14-0 Ohio State with 8:28 remaining in the first quarter.
The ensuing kickoff by OSU fifth-year senior Kyle Clinton went out of bounds. That gave the Hoosiers good starting field position at the OSU 35, and IU took advantage. Coleman rushed for 11 yards on the drive’s first play, but Ohio State looked primed to force a punt after forcing a third-and-11 two plays later.
Diamont took a shotgun snap on third down and found no one open down field. He pulled down the ball and attempted to rush for the first down. The broken play went for a 53-yard run by the freshman QB, all the way to the Ohio State 2-yard line. Coleman rushed for a TD on the next play, and after Griffin Oaks added the extra point, Indiana had narrowed its deficit to 14-7 with 6:41 left in the quarter.
The Buckeyes then committed the game’s first turnover on their next drive. On the first play of the possession, Barrett threw a pass out wide right to Thomas. As Thomas looked to break inside, Indiana cornerback Tim Bennett stripped the ball loose. IU’s Zack Shaw fell on the fumble, giving the Hoosiers the ball back at the OSU 31.
The Ohio State defense, who allowed a trio of touchdowns a week earlier at Minnesota off three Buckeye turnovers, held IU to a 30-yard field goal by Oakes that cut the OSU lead to 14-10 with 4:41 on the first-quarter clock.
Barrett committed OSU’s second turnover on the next drive. The redshirt freshman led the Buckeyes to the Indiana 43 before overthrowing Devin Smith on a first-down pass attempt. Free safety Antonio Allen was there to catch the ball, giving the Hoosiers the ball at the IU 18.
Ohio State forced a punt after a three-and-out, thanks in large part to a third-down drop by a wide open J-Shun Harris II on a slant rout.
The Buckeyes went back to work on offense, driving into Hoosier territory again before committing a third turnover in the first half. Back-to-back rushes by Samuel of 14 and 15 yards, respectively, advanced the ball to the IU 36, and after a 16-yard pass from Barrett to Thomas, the Buckeyes were in business at the 20. Unfortunately for OSU, Barrett’s next pass deflected off the hands of Spencer and into the arms of Allen at the IU 3. He returned the ball to the IU 21 before being brought down by OSU guard Billy Price with 12:28 left before halftime.
The turnover was turned into points again. A 49-yard catch and run by Wynn was the biggest play for the drive, and it came on a third-and-8 from the IU 23. The Buckeyes did hold the Hoosiers to a field goal, which was good from 37 yards by Oakes. The score made it 14-13 OSU with 9:34 left before halftime.
That score held through the rest of the second quarter. Things did not go well for the Ohio State offense after its first two drives. After the pair of TD marches, Ohio State’s drives ended in a fumble, a pair of interceptions and a pair of punts before the last one ended with the conclusion of the half. The Buckeyes gained 140 yards on their first two drives and 105 during their last six. Barrett completed his first eight pass attempts but had two interceptions in his next five throws.
The three first-half turnovers were the most OSU had committed in the first half of a home game since losing three turnovers in 2007 against Akron.
Things did not get much better in the third quarter for Ohio State. The teams traded punts to start the second half, but Indiana took the lead with 7:17 left in the third quarter. Coleman took a handoff on a first-and-10 at the IU 10, found running room on the left edge and simply outran the Ohio State defense for a 90-yard touchdown run. The run was the longest TD rush in Ohio Stadium history, besting an 88-yard touchdown scored by Morris Bradshaw in 1971.
Oakes added the extra point after the Coleman score, giving the Hoosiers their first lead at 20-14.
Ohio State’s specialists then turned the tide of the game later in the third quarter. First, Johnston pinned Indiana inside its own 1 on a 50-yard punt. The Hoosiers gained just 3 yards before having to punt from its own end zone. Ohio State did not rush the punt, instead setting up a return. Marshall fielded it at the OSU 46 and went left toward midfield. Juking a couple of Hoosiers, he cut back up field and into IU territory. Soon after, all that was between Marshall and a touchdown was Toth, and the Buckeye broke the punter’s tackle attempt and racing into the end zone for a 54-yard touchdown.
Nuernberger came on to add the extra point, giving Ohio State a 21-20 lead with 2:20 left in the third quarter. Marshall’s touchdown was the first Ohio State punt return for a score since Corey “Philly” Brown returned on 68 yards for a score at Wisconsin in 2012.
Ohio State added to its lead on its next drive, which began after an IU three-and-out. Taking over at the OSU 23, Barrett led the Buckeyes 76 yards in 11 plays, capped with a 6-yard TD pass to Marshall. Nuernbeger’s PAT made it 28-20 with 13:03 left in regulation.
The Buckeyes again drove into Indiana territory on its next drive but failed to add any points when Nuernberger missed a 46-yard field goal attempt wide left with 8:12 remaining.
Ohio State later sealed the win thanks in part to Indiana’s first and only turnover. Diamont had a pass intercepted by Powell at the IU 35 and returned to the 15. On the first play of the ensuing drive, Marshall got a step on Bennett at the goal line. Barrett’s throw his way was slightly overthrown, but Marshall was able to bring it in with one hand for a touchdown.
Nuernberger added the extra point to make it 35-20 with 4:21 remaining.
Marshall added a fourth score for good measure. He motioned left and took a Barrett pitch, rushed around left end and down the sideline for a 54-yard touchdown with 2:49 remaining. That gave Ohio State a 42-20 lead, but the Hoosiers were not done.
Coleman went over the 200-yard mark with a 52-yard touchdown run with 1:13 remaining. The Oakes PAT set the final score at 42-27.