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An early look at the Ohio State Buckeyes.

Ohio State Buckeyes
Last meeting: 10/21/2006 (OSU 44, IU 3)
Last IU win: 10/8/1988 (IU 41, OSU 7 in Bloomington)
Series: Ohio State leads 65-12-5
Jim Tressel (9th year, 83-19)

Under the leadership of Jim Tressel, Ohio State has emerged as the Big Ten's top team of the 21st century.  Under John Cooper, OSU's coach from 1988-2000, the Buckeyes recruited well and won lots of games, but nearly always lost to Michigan and typically followed with a bowl loss.  Under Tressel, the Buckeyes have owned the Michigan series and have played in 6 BCS bowls in 8 seasons.  The Buckeyes have taken some heat for poor performances in the 2006 and 2007 BCS title games, but Tressel won a national title in his second season in Columbus.  Unsurprisingly, Ohio State has dominated the recent history of the series against Indiana.  Really, IU's 2-1-1 record against Ohio State in a four year stretch from 1987-1990 amounts to IU's only success against Ohio State since the early 1950s.  Since 2002, IU has at least one win against every Big Ten school except the big three, but IU has never defeated Penn State and hasn't defeated Ohio State or Michigan since the late 1980s. 

So, does IU have any hope of reversing the trend in 2009?


Probably not, and there's really no shame in that.  OSU has dominated the conference in recent years.  Here' is OSU's NCAA team report for 2008 and the more detailed Stat Sheet report.  The Buckeyes were 10-2 in the regular season and 10-3 overall, so were not quite on par with their 2007 or 2006 teams, and the offensive numbers were pedestrian.  As always, OSU ran the ball well: the Buckeyes ranked #24 nationally with over 192 yards per game and #34 nationally with 4.6 yards per carry.  The passing game did not account for much yardage (OSU was #104 nationally with only 150 yards per game) but the Buckeyes completed nearly 60 percent of their passes, good enough for #45 nationally, and averaged 7.3 yards per passing play.  On defense, of course, the Buckeyes were typically outstanding: #14 in total defense, #25 in pass defense, #17 in rushing defense, #3 in yards per passing play allowed, #25 in rushing yards per play allowed.

Responsible for a large part of the offense was freshman quarterback Terrelle Pryor, perhaps the top recruit in the previous winter's recruiting class, and was highly sought by Michigan and Penn State as well.  As noted above, OSU's offense was very run heavy (and Pryor ran for 361 yards and 4 TD), but Pryor completed over 60 percent of his passes in the limited capacity in which he was asked to throw.  Aside from at quarterback, the Buckeyes did lose most of their top producers: leading rusher Chris "Beanie" Wells is gone, as are leading receivers Brian Robiskie and Brian Hartline.  Still, when have the Buckeyes ever failed to find a suitable tailback?  Freshman Daniel Herron ran for 439 yards and 6 TD and averaged nearly five yards per carry.  Still, at the very least there will be some new names involved in the OSU offense.

On defense, according to Sports Illustrated the Buckeyes return only four defensive starters.  The linebacking corps, which lost James Laurinaitis and Marcus Freeman to the NFL and Tyler Moeller to injuries resulting from an assault.  Still, turnover has never had much impact on Tressel's defense and it will be a surprise if there is much of a problem now. 

IU has been completely dominated by Ohio State, and from the vantage point of the preseason, there isn't much reason  to hope otherwise, even if IU is significantly improved.