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With just three weeks to go in the College Football regular season, the Ohio State Buckeyes are set to return to the Horseshoe this weekend for a noon kickoff against the Hoosiers of Indiana for the 14th consecutive season. Ohio State returns home from back-to-back road victories against Penn State and Northwestern in the last two weeks. Both of those games featured a come from behind victory spurred on by great defensive play. The Buckeyes also hold a 26-game winning streak over the Hoosiers that dates back to 1991. The 1990 matchup featured a tie between the two schools, and Indiana's last win against the Buckeyes came in 1988, and their last win in Columbus came in 1987.
This week's game will feature two of the Top 50 passing quarterbacks in the nation in Carter Bazelak and C.J. Stroud, who have both thrown for over 2,000 yards this season. However, the big discrepancy is the touchdown to interception ratio. Bazelak sits at a 4:3 touchdown to interception ratio. Meanwhile, Stroud holds a phenomenal 7:1 touchdown to interception ratio. Bazelak also returns off an injury that forced him to sit out last weeks game against Penn State. However, Dexter Williams II gave head coach Tom Allen a lot to like in his performance last week with his ability to run the football and is expected to take serious snaps against the Buckeyes this week.
On the ground, the Buckeyes are far superior to the Hoosiers, as Indiana earns just 75 yards per game on the ground, and Ohio State earns just shy of 200 yards per game running the football. Despite clear struggles with running the football the last few weeks, Ryan Day may have struck gold against Northwestern. For the first time in his career, Stroud was told to run the football when they struggled with the passing game due to 50 mile-per-hour gale force winds. Stroud came into last week with negative four rushing yards and left the week with 75. While the game last Saturday was as hard to watch as any, it may have unlocked the key to Ohio State's title aspirations. There was no doubt the Buckeyes had a great offense, but it has felt like it has been missing something this season. I believe they just found it. If Ohio State allows Stroud to run the football, he will leave OSU as the best quarterback to ever pass through it.
Defensively, the Buckeyes will hold a massive edge in this weekends game. Ohio State ranks No. 8 in the nation in points allowed with just 15.78 per game, and Indiana ranks No. 115, allowing 32.22 points per game. With Ohio State's No.1 ranked offense averaging almost 46 points a game, the Hoosiers only hope is that Mother Nature comes to play against the Buckeyes again this weekend.
This game should not be a slow starting one for the Buckeyes, as we have seen the past few weeks. Indiana is beaten up and has an offense that ranks No. 100 in the nation. They shouldn't challenge the Buckeye defense more than once this weekend. Ohio State's offense has had its troubles starting quickly, but with "That Team Up North" right around the corner, head coach Ryan Day has to get this team ready to play out of the gate early this week and get the starters out by halftime. With an emphasis on starting and finishing fast, Ohio State will look to impose themselves running the football and should find few issues against a defense that allows 150 rushing yards per game. This will blend well into the deep ball offense that Ohio State loves, and they should lead after the first quarter at least 21-0.
Indiana will have no answer for the Buckeye offense or defense, and they might end up with a score at some point in this first half, so I'll give it here. They will find one hole in the Buckeye defense and a slipped tackle or a bad read will lead to a Hoosier touchdown. The biggest challenge for the Buckeyes this week is Mother Nature as mentioned above. While their won't be gale force winds, there will be 15 mph winds and 40-degree weather at kickoff. It's going to be cold, and I believe we will see a few bad dropped balls by the Buckeye receiving group, but Ohio State is too good for this game to fall apart after getting their quick start, and they will take around a 38-7 lead into the half.
Coming out of the break, the starters should get a drive or two to keep them in a rhythm out of a halftime break, something they will have to do in every week after this, but against a bad Hoosiers defense, they should bust this game wide open and lead 52-7 before the starters are pulled, and the game comes to a close with the backups in.
Score Prediction: OSU wins 52-7
This team has yet to play in a game this cold all season. With the drops from the wide receiver core the last two weeks, I do worry about what that could mean this time around with a frozen football and frozen fingers, but as much as this might impact the Buckeye offense, it will be twice as bad for the Indiana offense that has not been able to run the ball this season. If they are forced out of the passing game like Northwestern was, then the defense of Ohio State is going to start feasting on a bad O-line. Once more, Ohio State's biggest enemy is themselves. If they get out of their own way, this ends with them scoring 50 before the half, but if they show up not ready like last week, Indiana is going to stick around and give Buckeye fans a headache.
Either way, an upset this year is unlikely. The Hoosiers have beaten Ohio State just 12 times in their 94 meetings since 1901, and even with their best team in years in 2020, they still weren't able to overcome the Buckeyes.
Betting Line: Ohio State (-40), Over/Under (58)
Even after weather shut down Ohio State's 35-point spread against Northwestern last week, bettors are still confident the Buckeyes will return to form here in the cold against Indiana. The spread of this game is one of the largest of the season and after last weeks struggles with the weather, I'd be weary to put bets on a 40-point game this week. Indiana is not good, and Ohio State should be able to hit on all of these numbers, but something has felt off these last few games, and that should make bettors beware. I wouldn't put any bets onto this game that revolve around the spread or the over/under. They are massive this week, and that makes it hard to hit with near-freezing weather in the forecast.
How to Watch and Listen
TV: 12:00 p.m. ET, Fox & Fox Sports App
- Gus Johnson (play-by-play), Joel Klatt (analysis), Jenny Taft (sideline)
Radio: 97.1 (The Fan) FM/1460 AM
- Paul Keels (play-by-play), Jim Lachey (analysis), Matt Andrews (sideline)
Use promo code BELIEVELAND for $20.00 your first ticket purchase with Seat Geek!