2010 record: 12-1 (7-1), Big Ten co-champs, beat Arkansas in Sugar Bowl
2011 record: 5-3 (2-2)
2010 Sagarin: 7 (IU was #98)
2011 Sagarin: 29 (IU is #149)
Coach: Luke Fickell (first season, 5-3)
Series: Ohio State leads 67-12-5
TV: noon, Big Ten Network
A horrid 1-8 season promises to get worse before it gets better. IU hits the road until the home finale against Purdue, with road trips to Ohio State and Michigan State sandwiching a bye week. In September, this game looked, if not winnable, then at least like a game that might not get terribly out of hand. The Buckeyes, in their first season of the post-Tressel era and without the players who were suspended by the NCAA, looked pretty rough in a close home win over Toledo, a whipping in south Florida at the hands of a thoroughly mediocre Miami team, and a home loss to Michigan State. The Buckeyes began the season with Joe Bauserman at quarterback, but like IU (yes, Ohio State is so much like IU) has now turned to a true freshman, Braxton Miller at quarterback. While the Buckeyes' offense hasn't always been pretty, their just-completed three-game run against ranked opposition went very well. The Buckeyes lost at Nebraska but played well for most of the game, won at Illinois despite completing only one pass, and then, last week, shocked Wisconsin in what is by far the Big Ten's game of the year of 2011.
The Ohio State offense still hasn't made much of a dent in its overall poor numbers. OSU ranks #110 in FBS in total offense and #116 (of 120 teams) in passing offense. The Buckeye rushing attack remains strong, ranking #36 nationally. Still, overall the defense remains strong, ranking #17 nationally in total defense (309 yards per game) and #16 in scoring defense (17 points per game).
Very little has been asked of Miller as a passing QB. He has seen meaningful playing time in 6 of OSU's seven games but still has only 63 pass attempts on the season. In the Wisconsin win, he completed 7-10 for 89 yards, with nearly half of that total coming on his game-winning, 40 yard TD pass in the closing seconds. Miller is a solid running threat. He ran for 91 yards against Wisconsin and is OSU's #2 leading rusher, behind Carlos Hyde, who has run for 408 yards and 5 TDs on the season. Of course, OSU's offense has been transformed by the return from suspension of Dan Herron, who already has 274 yards rushing in the two games since his return. Unsurprisingly, the receiving corps is a bit of a wasteland for OSU. Jake Stoneburner and Devin Smith, with 12 and 10 catches, respectively, are the only OSU receivers with a double digit number of catches.
Defense, of course, to an even greater degree than in a typical Tressel-era season, has been the Buckeyes' trademark. Linebacker Andrew Sweat is the Bucks' leading tackler and has 5 tackles for loss and an interception as well. DT John Simon has 9.5 tackles for loss and 5 sacks. CB Bradley Roby leads the way with 3 interceptions. It doesn't hurt that OSU has an excellent placekicker as well. Drew Basil is 10-12.
There's not much to say about this one. Even in an relative down year (a down year that may well culminate in a trip to the Big Ten title game), it's unlikely that the rebuilding Hoosiers will be much competition for the Buckeyes. It's better to reminisce about better times: the "Darkest Day" game, IU's 31-10 win in Columbus in 1987:
I'm hopeful that we will see a scene like that again, but it's not going to be this year. Ohio State 45, Indiana 10.