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INDIANA at OHIO STATE: Game preview, odds, how-to-watch, and more

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Urban Meyer should not be coaching this game.

NCAA Football: Ohio State at Indiana Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Game Info / How to Watch

Who? Indiana Hoosiers (4-1 [1-1], #49 S&P+) at Ohio State (5-0 [2-0], #3 S&P+)

When? Saturday, 10/6/18 4:00 PM, Columbus, OH

Channel? FOX

Vegas? Ohio State -26.5

S&P+ Projection? Ohio State -21.3


Whatever happened to Indiana between Week 3 and Week 4, it has changed the entire dynamic of the season. After rolling through the first three games of the year, Indiana has looked bad for three of the last four quarters since. The first half of last week’s game went about as expected then Indiana took its foot off the gas and it nearly cost them.

In the meantime, Purdue, Maryland, Minnesota and Iowa no longer look to be the potential sure-fire wins they appeared to be early in the season. The dreams of eight wins - farfetched as they were even from the beginning - have been replaced with the struggle for six. S&P currently predicts 6.6 wins for the Hoosiers with a 61 percent chance of finishing the year with either six or seven wins. Indiana fans should never complain about just six wins in a season and while the team is still on path to go bowling, it could get hairy the final stretch of the season.

I say all that about Indiana still being on track to go bowling because this week is going to be very ugly.

Onto the numbers

Ohio State Table

- Explosiveness (86%) Efficiency (83%) Field Position (75%) Finishing Drives (72%) Turnover Margin (73%)
- Explosiveness (86%) Efficiency (83%) Field Position (75%) Finishing Drives (72%) Turnover Margin (73%)
INDIANA (#89 offense) 0.96 (121st) 45.9% (38th) 29.7 (71st) 4.10 (99th) 3 (28th)
OHIO STATE (#23 defense) 1.43 (127th) 32.4% (7th) 23.6 (3rd) 4.00 (38th) 5 (12th)
- - - - - -
OHIO STATE (#3 offense) 1.18 (63rd) 52.7% (7th) 29.8 (64th) 5.95 (5th) 5 (12th)
INDIANA (#22 defense) 1.08 (45th) 36.8% (34th) 26.3 (23rd) 4.85 (93rd) 3 (28th)

First, the Hoosiers.

The most alarming change in the Hoosiers the last two weeks has been abysmal offensive line play. Coming into the Michigan State game, Indiana had an opportunity rate of 52.6 percent. Two weeks later, it’s dropped almost 10 percent. The sack rate continues to rise, though it’s buoyed by the team giving up just one sack the first three weeks.

The offense remains horribly unexplosive and incredibly reliant on staying on schedule. The good news is that the Hoosiers remain incredibly efficient while converting a possibly unsustainable amount of 51.9 percent of its third downs.

If Indiana didn’t use Michael Penix last week, he’s probably only going to enter a game if there’s an injury and the program is intending to redshirt him. Whether it’s the right decision is probably worth its own article but it places a hard ceiling on the team going forward.

The defense continues to outperform the offense, not surprisingly. It’s a unit that continues to knock teams off schedule and thriving from there on. As great as they remain, this week will be its toughest challenge of the season.

The Opponent

You don’t need S&P numbers to know that Ohio State is really damn good. The win over Penn State was their biggest hurdle and likely the only thing standing between them and a playoff spot, save for a wild upset by Michigan.

Dwayne Haskins has lived up to the hype and the offense is putting up points at video game rates. J.K. Dobbins hasn’t even been statistically the best back on the team which says more about their incredible depth and less about Dobbins.

The Buckeyes don’t really have a weakness on the offense. The line is solid, opening up holes for the backs (54.9 percent opportunity rate) and protecting Haskins (16th in sack rate). The rushing attack is its weakest aspect but, again, its Dobbins and Mike Weber who are one of the best backfield duos in the country.

The defense is 12th in overall havoc rate and seventh in defensive efficiency. They don’t allow rushing lanes for opposing offenses and don’t allow completions to opposing quarterbacks. They are excellent at getting offenses off track and then are second in sack rate on passing downs.

Their one glaring weakness is allowing explosive plays both on the ground and through the air, or the things Indiana absolutely can not do offensively.

Simply put, it’s a terrible match-up for Indiana.

Things to Watch

  • Trust in Stevie Scott - Stevie Scott’s struggles have mirrored those of the offensive line. It didn’t help that he did everything he could to fumble the ball last week before finally being successful. With a gluttony of backs, it’ll be interesting how many carries Scott gets this week, especially if he struggles early.
  • Explosive plays - As remarked above, Indiana could have an advantage with explosive plays offensively. It could put in Penix and try for some long balls to take the top off the defense. It probably won’t. But it could
  • Turnovers - Indiana’s margin for error this game is remarkably small. Maybe non-existent. Hanging onto an interception or forcing loose an extra ball for a fumble becomes incredibly valuable this week as is the case in any upset bid. But it’s hard to ask more out of the defense given how much they’ve bailed out the offense this season.

Prediction

I am not remotely optimistic about this game. I know the whole “Indiana leading a Big Ten opponent in the fourth” cliche but this doesn’t feel like the game we do that. Ohio State 45-21