Two years ago ESPN made a mistake, rather than sending their Gameday crew to Bloomington for one of the biggest games in Bloomington in recent memory, they went elsewhere, overlooking Indiana vs. Ohio State. The game itself did not disappoint in any manner. Ohio State eventually won in a shootout 34-27, with Ezekiel Elliot carrying the team on his back with a 270 + yard performance and 3 touchdowns. It was a monumental effort by Indiana who lost its quarterback and running backs in the game, yet continued to fight back.
Last season Indiana went to Ohio State, and in what should have been a laugher, IU hung around for virtually the entire game, even leading for the majority of the 1st half. Eventually they would fall to the Buckeyes 38-17, but the stage has been set.
Ever since the Big Ten announced that IU and OSU would kick off the 2017 season for the league, there has been a buzz around the game. ESPN is sending its College Gameday crew to Bloomington, not allowing themselves to miss out on what could be a classic game in the biggest night of Indiana football in over 2 decades. By the time the two teams kickoff at 8 p.m., Memorial Stadium will be as electric as it has ever been, with tailgate lots opening 12 hours prior. Can IU actually sleigh the giant and beat Ohio State for the first time since 1988 when the Hoosiers won 41-7?
The Game Itself
In order to defeat Ohio State, Indiana will have to not only defend some of the best athletes in the country on Ohio State’s offense, but they will have to defend one of the best Offensive Coordinaters in the country, Kevin Wilson. Yes, Kevin Wilson who was relieved of his duties here in Bloomington less than a year ago. Think he won’t be out for blood? Think again. Ohio State will be more than capable of running the score up against the Hoosiers, returning key players from an offense that was shut out in last years College Football Playoffs against Clemson. Indiana’s defense will need to be ready to defend against a fast paced team that will be able to strike quickly and attack from multiple areas.
The Ohio State defense is in the midst of transition from a defense that saw 3 members of the secondary get drafted in the 1st round of the NFL. They are young and unproven in the secondary, however the defensive line is and will be the strength of the defense throughout the year. Led by TyQuan Lewis, a 2nd team All American, the defensive line could become of the best in Ohio State history according to thelandoften.com. This line will clash with what again looks to be a strong offensive line and running game for IU. If Indiana can keep Richard Lagow upright, and open running lanes, they will be able to attack the young secondary with one of the best receiving corps in the Big Ten.
What it comes down to:
Richard Lagow and Indiana will limit opportunities for Ohio State to make plays by playing keep away. This also means that they will not be able to turn the football over. Last season Lagow put the ball into risky situations far too often, costing the team wins and putting too much pressure on the defense. In order to beat Ohio State, Lagow cannot do this. He has receivers that should be able to have their way with the secondary of Ohio State as long as he has time and puts the ball in good places. If Indiana begins to turn the football over, it will be a very long night.
Indiana must make more of the momentum plays. Blocked punts, forcing fumbles, not committing penalties will be huge in trying to knock of an opponent like the Buckeyes. Ohio State is typically the team making the big plays, but Indiana will have to steal a few big ones to keep it close. Look for Indiana to bring pressure on punts and field goals in an effort to change the game early. Also, don’t overlook big 3rd down conversions which can be a killer to an Indiana team that must get off the field when given the opportunity.
Don’t count out this team and Coach Tom Allen, who’s mantra this season is “Breakthrough”. Breakthrough and win a game that Indiana doesn’t typically win. This campus is ready for a winning football program, and Tom Allen looks to be the man to lead them in a season where they can “Breakthrough”. It’s time for Indiana to finish the close games, and it’s time for Indiana to sleigh the giant.