Indiana Hoosiers (2-2) at #6 Ohio State Buckeyes (4-0)
12:10 PM EST ESPN Plus
Forgetting the game against Cincinnati is easier said than done; it will likely be talked about for years to come. However, the Buckeyes need to regroup and focus on getting the job done this week in the Big Ten opener against Indiana.
No disrespect to Indiana, but this year's version of the Hoosiers could be referred to as the Hoo-aretheseguys? Chances are you have never heard of many of them. Gone are standouts Antwaan Randle-El and Levron Williams, and in are Gibran Hamdan and Yamar Washington (more on them in a bit). Also in is new head coach Gerry Dinardo, who comes back to college after a stint with the Birmingham Thunderbolts of the XFL where he was faced with trying to stop the ruthless rushing attack of He Hate Me.
The days of He Hate Me have come and gone, but stopping the opponent remains a big concern, especially given Indiana's situation of having key players banged up on a defense that wasn't strong to begin with. News recently surfaced of Hoosier safety Joe Gonzalez and defensive tackle Derek Barnett being out for the season. Combine this with the fact that Indiana has just 65 scholarship players, and the conclusion can be drawn that this team could have trouble in the Big Ten. They've managed to go 2-2 to this point (with wins over Central Michigan and William & Mary), but it gets pretty tough from here on out.
Indiana runs a spread offense that had some success in their recent game against Central Michigan. Tommy Jones began the season as the starter, but he has since been replaced by Gibran Hamdan (pronounced Ja-Brawn Ham-din), a big guy (6-6, 231) who is 44 of 95 for 736 yards and 3 TDs in three games. IU features a one-two punch at tailback in redshirt freshman Yamar Washington (5-9, 198), who has rushed for 338 yards on 63 carries in three games (and went for 100+ in the last two, including 163 against Kentucky) and three touchdowns, and junior Brian Lewis (5-8, 205), who has rushed for 186 yards on 41 carries so far this year. At WR, Glenn Johnson (Jr, 5-11, 193) and Courtney Roby (Soph, 6-0, 182) are the leaders, with over 350 yards receiving each. On the offensive line is where you will find IU's top overall player in LT Enoch DeMar (Sr, 6-4, 310) as well as another returning starter in LG A.C. Myler (Sr, 6-5, 324). Starting at right guard for the Hoosiers is an Ohioan in true freshman Adam Hines (Vandalia, OH, 6-2, 283). The other starters are Bobby Brandt (Sr, 6-7, 295) and C Chris Jahnke (So, 6-5, 304). At TE is Aaron Halterman (Soph, 6-5, 267). The offense overall is averaging 387 yards per game (247.8 through the air, 139.3 on the ground) and 23.5 points per game.
Defensively, the Hoosiers are led by senior DT Kris Dielman (6-4, 283 from Troy, OH) and LB sophomore Herana-Daze Jones (5-10, 208, pronounced Hernandez according to the IU press release, leads the team with 50 tackles). The Hoosiers are pretty young on defense, as right now, five freshmen are slated as starters (DE Victor Adeyanju (6-4, 254), DT Russ Richardson (6-0, 259), MLB John Kerr (5-11, 224) from Cleveland St. Ignatius, CB Damien Jones (5-11, 179), and SS Will Lumpkin (5-11, 193), another Ohio native). In addition to those five and Jones, two other starters are sophomores (LB Kevin Smith (6-1, 231, from Canton McKinley) and DE Jodie Clemons (6-2, 261)), which totals eight players who are either freshmen or sophomores who will be starting for IU against Ohio State. The other two starters are seniors in CB Antonio Watson (6-1, 198) and FS A.C. Carter (5-8, 193). Out of this group, only Dielman, Herana-Daze Jones and Carter are returning starters. On special teams, Glenn Johnson will return punts while A.C. Carter and Courtney Roby are the kick returners, while junior Ryan Hamre (36.9 yard average) and sophomore Bryan Robertson (3-6 FGs) are punter and kicker respectively.
Gerry Dinardo and the Hoosiers have their work cut out for them both long and short-term, and the game against OSU is no exception. On paper, there is a big gap in talent.
Let's stop right there though, because we've talked several times before about the big gap in talent between OSU and other teams, and then the other teams keep the game closer than they were supposed to (Saturday's game against Cincinnati is the most extreme example). This week, we should see another supposedly overmatched team coming to play the Buckeyes, and this overmatched team will, like the overmatched teams in the past, be coming in fired up with nothing to lose and will want to give the Buckeyes their best shot. OSU needs to bring it every week, and if the Buckeyes did not get a wake-up call in that regard from last week's game, they never will.
We will likely see Indiana try and put up yards through the air against Ohio State while mixing in the run as effectively as they can. The big gap comes on defense though as lining up against the OSU talent will be a big challenge for this IU squad. Whether Maurice Clarett returns this week at 100% or not, the Buckeyes should be able to have success moving the ball on this Hoosier defense.
The guess here is that last week served as a slap in the face for Ohio State, and they will come out and be ready to put up a better performance. OSU should win regardless of if they come ready to dominate or just play average, but after the Cincinnati game, everyone wants to see them win more impressively, so the thinking is that they'll want to beat up on the Hoosiers. The prediction here is that Indiana will not be able to hold up defensively, and OSU will score early and often, leading to a lopsided win.