Both teams will put their 2-0 record on the line this weekend when the no. 6 Ohio State Buckeyes pay a visit to the Indiana Hoosiers. Kickoff is set for high noon EST on Saturday, September 14 at Memorial Stadium in Bloomington, Indiana. The game will be broadcast nationally on Fox.
According to the Week 3 odds, the Buckeyes are 15-point favorites over Indiana. The over/under for the game is set at 60.5 points.
The Ryan Day era has started at Ohio State without a hitch. The Buckeyes coasted to a 45-21 win over Florida Atlantic in their season opener and then dropped the hammer on Cincinnati last week, winning 42-0. Ohio State looks like the same team with Day as they did with Urban Meyer, so the transition appears to be going smoothly. However, this week marks the start of Big Ten play and their first road game of the season, giving Day a new challenge as the OSU head coach.
Meanwhile, Indiana will be pleased to be sitting at 2-0 with the Buckeyes coming to town. The Hoosiers survived a 10-point win over Ball State in their season opener before beating FCS opponent Eastern Illinois in a 52-0 blowout last week. Of course, things are about to become more difficult for Indiana, who needs to find four wins in their final 10 games to reach a bowl game. Half of their remaining opponents are currently ranked, so the Hoosiers may need to steal a win people aren’t expecting them to get. They’ll get their first chance this weekend.
Alas, Indiana hasn’t beaten Ohio State since 1988. The teams played to a tie in 1990, but since then, the Buckeyes have won 24 in a row against Indiana, including one vacated win. Last year, the Buckeyes cruised to a 49-26 win over Indiana in Columbus. However, games played in Bloomington have sometimes been more competitive, including a 7-point contest between the two teams in 2015. But outside of the occasional close game, this series has been as lopsided as they get.
To be honest, Indiana is not a bad team. They have some potential and I wouldn’t be surprised to see them get into a bowl game. However, this spread is not nearly big enough, even if the Hoosiers put up a fight for two or three quarters. The Buckeyes have been prone to disappointing upsets in recent years, but it’s too early in the season for them to lose focus. I like Ohio State to win by at least 20 points and cover with ease.
Many people criticized Ohio State for taking their foot off the gas in the season opener, but last week against Cincinnati, we saw just what the Buckeyes are capable of doing. Justin Fields has looked outstanding over the first two weeks and a perfect fit for the Ohio State offense because of what he’s capable of doing with both his arms and legs. It also helps the Ohio State cause to have a running back like J.K. Dobbins who can take the ball to the house every time he touches the ball.
The Cincinnati defense the Buckeyes faced last week is no joke. The Bearcats are solid on that side of the ball, and the OSU offense made them look well below average. At best, the Indiana defense is probably on par with the Cincinnati defense, and even that might be giving the Hoosiers too much credit. They didn’t exactly lock it down against Ball State in their season opener, and the Hoosiers have only forced one turnover in two games. I don’t think that bodes well for their chances of containing Fields and the OSU offense. Even with the home crowd behind them, the Hoosiers look a little vulnerable on that side of the field.
To be fair, new Indiana quarterback Michael Penix Jr. looks like the real deal. Backup Peyton Ramsey gives them an experience option if the Hoosiers want to throw Ohio State a curveball. But Penix with his dual-threat abilities in Indiana’s spread offense is the team’s best option. It also helps to have a running back like Stevie Scott who can run between the tackles and keep the defense honest against the spread.
That being said, the Ohio State defense should have enough talent to keep Penix, Scott, and the rest of the Indiana offense contained. During last year’s meeting against Ohio State, the Hoosiers had to abandon Scott and the running game once they got down, and that’s a distinct possibility again this year. I don’t think Penix has the experience or the receivers to move the ball against the Buckeyes if the Indiana offense becomes one-dimensional. The OSU defense is also a little faster than what he’s seen this season, creating a little bit of a learning curve.
After the first two weeks, I’m expecting another fast start from the Ohio State offense. If that’s the case, the Hoosiers will be in a tough spot because I don’t think the defense will be able to get enough stops to keep them in the game. Most importantly, even if the Hoosiers keep this game close into the second half, Ohio State can strike quickly and pull away late. I don’t think the Buckeyes will have a problem covering 15 points.