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Ohio State 23, Indiana 3: Defense shines, offense needs work

So much defense, no much offense.

NCAA Football: Ohio State at Indiana Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports

Stop me if you’ve heard this before: Indiana football’s defense held firm as the offense failed to capitalize in a loss.

This theme has hung over the program since the breakout 2020 season. The defense remained stout through a good portion of the 2021 season before the bottom gave out. Last season’s coordinator shake-up that saw Allen re-assume play calling duties led to the worst defense in the conference.

Today, against the vaunted Ohio State Buckeyes, the defense showed up and then some in ways it absolutely wasn’t supposed to. The unit, in its entirety is made up of and heavily relies on transfers, most of them from this past offseason.

Just take a look at Ohio State’s stats. Marvin Harrison Jr, future top-10 NFL Draft pick? Two receptions, 18 yards. Emeka Egbuka, a future pro in his own right? Just one catch for nine yards.

Ohio State did not have a passing touchdown today. An offense built around its stellar quarterback play thanks to QB coach turned offensive coordinator turned head coach Ryan Day failed to register a single score through the air.

The most notable pass, arguably, was a rather ill-advised one tossed through the middle of the Hoosiers’ defense that safety Phillip Dunnam was all too able and eager to snag out of the air.

Then there’s Andre Carter, the prized pass rusher from the transfer portal, absolutely bullying the Buckeyes’ offensive line for four total tackles, two for loss and a looming threat to either of Ohio State’s two quarterbacks.

Carter, and the rest of the defensive line, were the real deal against an inexperienced Ohio State front. Aaron Casey was flying in at linebacker and the secondary was holding their own.

All for naught.

The offense, as has been the case for Indiana in recent years, did not hold up its end of the bargain. Exactly what that is is worth a blog in itself (one that’ll get written after this, trust me), but the fact remains that Indiana was well within striking distance of Ohio State and failed to take advantage of that at all.

Truly, the field goal had some luck behind it after being willed through despite a doink off the right upright. Indiana was very, very close to being shutout this game.

Between the play calling, lack of any downfield passing attack and only calling any non-run plays once the defense began to run out of gas, the Hoosiers were never going to capitalize on all of the chances the offense was giving them.

But this is Ohio State. It’s some of the best talent you can recruit and coaching money, and that talent, can buy. It’s hard to gauge Indiana against something like that. In a very good year, 2019, Indiana looked worse as an overall team against Ohio State and ended up winning eight games.

You can take a few things away from this, but it’s hard to give a full assessment until we see this offense against a team that isn’t Ohio State, the games they’re meant to have more of a chance in. Not the Michigans or Penn States, the Marylands, Purdues and Rutgers... es.

Indiana can show something on offense in these next few weeks, I wouldn’t take this week as gospel. But it needs to soon.

The defense getting worn out from the lack of offensive production is what truly sank Indiana in 2021. That can create issues on and off the field. We’ve seen this song before and nobody liked the ending.

There’s time to right the ship in 2023, but only so much.