Coming into today's game with Indiana, the growing opinion was that the OSU offense was possibly the worst in the Big Ten. After scoring only three offensive touchdowns in three Big Ten games and ranking in at 114 out of 117 in Division I-A total offense, it would be hard to dispute that statement. Today though, the Buckeyes found that playing the Indiana Hoosiers would be just what the doctor ordered.
Ohio State put on a dominating performance on all facets of the game today as the offense put up 603 yards of total offense (216 rushing, 387 passing) and the defense allowed just 131 total yards to steer the Buckeyes to a 35-6 win at Indiana. Lydell Ross led the way with a career day as he rushed for 167 yards and three TDs on 23 carries while Craig Krenzel had 272 yards and one TD and one INT on 19 of 26 passing. The win was a costly one for the Buckeyes as WR Drew Carter appears to be lost to a serious knee injury, but the Buckeye offense took a big step in the right direction today.
The Buckeye offensive performance during the first half was a sight for sore eyes, particularly on the first drive. Ohio State came out on the opening possession and muscled the ball down the field, largely on the running of Lydell Ross. Ross plowed through holes for big chunks of yardage (including a 24-yard run), and on the eighth play of the drive, Ross scored from 11 yards out to give the Buckeyes their first score. The Mike Nugent PAT made it 7-0 in favor of the Buckeyes. The drive lasted eight plays and took less than three minutes.
Indiana went three-and-out on the next possession, but Ohio State's offense couldn't find the same success on the following drive as they were forced to punt. B.J. Sander's punt pinned the Hoosiers back near their own goal line, and the Hoosiers went three-and-out once again. Things seemed to be rolling for the Buckeyes as they started the next drive inside Indiana territory and quickly got down inside the red zone on a Ross 29-yard run, but a Ross fumble recovered by Indiana's Joe Gonzalez stopped the drive and gave the Hoosiers possession on the 9.
Indiana's offense would continue to sputter against the OSU defense though as the Hoosiers would have to punt back to Ohio State after executing a few plays. Ohio State took over on the 34 and got down the field in a hurry as after a six-yard Ross run, Craig Krenzel hit Drew Carter on a 49-yard bomb to give OSU the ball at the IU five-yard line. Ross ran the ball in soon after for his second TD of the day, and the Buckeyes stretched the lead to 14-0.
The Hoosiers began to drive on their next possession as they moved the ball down into Ohio State territory, but the Ohio State defense stopped the drive as a couple of sacks helped force Indiana to punt. The following possession would be a very costly one for Ohio State as Drew Carter tore his ACL on the second play of the drive as he leaped up to make a 17-yard catch but landed awkwardly and had to be helped off the field. Ohio State continued to move the ball with a combination of runs and catches and got down to the IU 17, but Mike Nugent missed a 35-yard field goal attempt to end the drive.
With just over two minutes on the clock, Indiana took over the ball, but they could not take the game into the half as Donte Whitner picked off a Matt LoVecchio pass to give OSU one last shot to score before halftime. The Buckeyes were able to do just that as Craig Krenzel engineered a drive that was capped off by a 15-yard scoring strike to Santonio Holmes with just seconds left on the clock.
The first half was a dominating performance by Ohio State as the Buckeyes ran up 330 yards of total offense to Indiana's 12 (unofficial figure). Lydell Ross had 121 yards on 17 carries and 2 TDs while Craig Krenzel threw for over 200 yards on 15 of 20 passing (eight different players had caught a pass). Ohio State had 40 plays in the first half -- 20 of them runs, and 20 of them passes.
Indiana received the second half kickoff and went three-and-out. Ohio State took over at their own 30 and promptly marched the ball down the field, largely on a 39-yard Craig Krenzel-to-Santonio Holmes pass. A few plays later though, the Buckeye drive would end on a Krenzel interception that was tipped and landed in the hands of IU defender Cedric Henry.
Indiana took over at their own one-yard line and went three and out, punting the ball back to Ohio State with good field position as they took over at the Hoosier 39. OSU took advantage as after a 21-yard Chris Gamble catch, Lydell Ross punched it in from two yards out to give OSU the 28-0 lead.
In the fourth quarter, the Buckeyes came close to extending the lead when Scott McMullen hit Santonio Holmes for what appeared to be a long TD pass, but Holmes fumbled on the one-yard line to give the ball back to Indiana. Holmes would get another chance later on in the quarter though as McMullen (5 for 5 on the day) hit him for a 47-yard TD strike to give Ohio State their final TD. Indiana scored late on a 17-yard pass from Graeme McFarland to Chris Taylor. The PAT was no good.
The Buckeye performance was truly dominant today as the outcome was never in question, and the talent gap between the two teams was obvious from the start. As previously mentioned, Lydell Ross ran the show on the ground, and eleven different players caught a pass. Santonio Holmes led the way with 153 yards on six catches (two TDs), while Drew Carter had 75 yards on three catches before his injury.
Not all was good today for the Buckeyes as they turned the ball over three times in the red zone, and they also had (unofficially) nine penalties for 80 yards. However, this performance was exactly what the Buckeyes needed as everything ran on all cylinders for the most dominating performance of the season. The 216 yards rushing was a season high, and they accumulated their highest passing tally since the Outback Bowl in 2002. The offensive output was the highest since the Buckeyes put up 715 yards against Utah in 1986. The Hoosiers put up 143 yards passing and -12 yards passing.
The Buckeyes move to 7-1 and 3-1 in the Big Ten (and got a boost in the conference race today with Northwestern's defeat of Wisconsin), while Indiana falls to 1-7 (0-4).
The Buckeyes travel to Penn State next week.