My Q&A with Land Grant Holy Land
IU again welcomes the nut necklace crowd to Bloomington Saturday night when the Ohio State Buckeyes visit Bloomington. This is going to have to be a quick-fire preview. Quickly, the days of the Jim Tressel 1970s throwback Buckeyes are over. This is a 21st century program led by a coach with two BCS national titles in this century. In many respects, it would seem that QB Braxton Miller is the perfect fit for Meyer's program, even though he was recruited by the prior regime. Last year, OSU leaned on Miller as little as possible. Recall the win at Illinois in which the Buckeyes completed only one pass. After averaging only 96 passing yards per game last year, Miller is up to 176 yards per game this season, has upped his completion percentage from 54 to 61, and he's still very effective on the ground. Just halfway through the season, Miller has 763 yards rushing, 7.2 yards per carry, and 8 touchdowns. Carlos Hyde and Jordan Hall also contribute to the rushing game, but combined the two have fewer yards than Miller. Miller has been spreading the ball around, with Devin Smith and Corey Brown as his favorite receiving targets.
The Buckeye defense has been good but not fearsome. Their national rankings are slightly above average. Still, according to Luke Zimmermann the Buckeyes have struggled against the bubble screen and other common spread offense elements, so perhaps IU has a chance to make some noise. Linebacker Etienne Sabino is out with an injury, but look out for LB Ryan Shazier, CB Travis Howard (3 INTS), and DE John Simon (3 sacks).
What can I say about this one? The Buckeyes are talented, and exploded offensively against Nebraska. I would be thrilled if IU can stick with OSU they way they did with MSU. I suspect that there will be some ugliness Saturday, but the schedule from then on eases just a bit. Ohio State 45, Indiana 17.