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Buckeyes Buckeye Archive Preview: Indiana at Ohio State
Written by Dan Wismar

Dan Wismar




Herron_Indiana1- Saturday, November 5, 2011

- Ohio Stadium, Columbus, OH

- 12:00 p.m. (ET)

- TV: Big Ten Network -

After playing ranked opponents four games in a row, Ohio State gets a breather of sorts this Saturday, when the Indiana Hoosiers come to town for a noon kickoff at Ohio Stadium. Luke Fickell’s charges will have to guard against a letdown after last weekend’s gripping comeback win over Wisconsin, but Indiana (1-8, 0-5) is so young and injury-riddled that the Buckeyes (5-3, 2-2) should be able to get by this week without too much trouble, and on to the meat of the remaining Big Ten schedule.

Fickell will be trying to continue the recent OSU tradition of November football excellence. Ohio State is 17-1 in the month of November since the start of the 2005 season. They have won 16 straight over the Hoosiers, dating to a 1990 tie, and have not lost to Indiana since consecutive losses in 1987 and 1988. Last year Ohio State ran out to a 31-0 halftime lead and cruised to a 38-10 victory in Columbus. (The above streak totals have not yet been adjusted to pretend last year's games didn’t happen)

The Hoosiers under first-year coach Kevin Wilson have started nine freshmen so far this year, and several others are playing regularly, in part due to a large number of upperclassmen leaving the program or being lost to injury or discipline since Wilson took over the program in the offseason. In the past week alone, Wilson’s two top wide receivers have been lost to the Hoosiers for the season. Preseason All-Big Ten pick Damarlo Belcher was kicked off the team for rules violations, and then on Tuesday, Wilson confirmed that No. 2 receiver Duwyce Wilson will also be lost to the team due to an serious knee injury.

The Buckeyes, meanwhile, have played themselves back into contention in the Leaders Division of the conference, and are currently tied with Wisconsin and Purdue at 2-2 in league play. All three teams trail Penn State (8-1, 5-0) by 2.5 games in the division, but the Nittany Lions have remaining games against Wisconsin, Ohio State and Nebraska. If Ohio State can go 4-0 this month, and either the Badgers or the Cornhuskers can hang a second Big Ten loss on Penn State, then the Buckeyes will hold the tie-breakers with the other contenders, and would qualify for the Big Ten title game.

Berry_IndianaState of the Bucks - (in which we briefly discuss off-the-field matters concerning OSU)

That the Buckeyes “would qualify” for the conference championship game is a loaded phrase. That’s because the program is still waiting to hear from the NCAA about their eligibility to take part in any postseason football this season. Before the latest flurry of player violations...what we’ll call the “DiGeronimo File” looked as though Ohio State would avoid any postseason ban. But there is less certainty about that since the recent disclosures concerning players being overpaid for work they performed for a long-time OSU booster.

As far as I can see, the key word there is “booster”. None of the previous player violations involved people who were officially connected to the program in any way. DiGeronimo brings the problem closer to home. A one-year ban...probably this season, but depending on the timing of the announcement of final sanctions, possibly next season....remains an option for the NCAA Committee on Infractions. And don’t expect NCAA action anytime very soon. Doug Lesmerises of the PD reports this week that OSU has yet to formally respond to the latest round of violations, and the NCAA won’t act until some weeks after they get that response. All that said, the Buckeyes should be “bowl eligible” (six wins) by about 3 p.m. Saturday afternoon.

Back to the IU game...On the injury front, the biggest thing to report is Jordan Hall’s ankle sprain, suffered on his big 42-yard kickoff return in the final moments against Wisconsin. Hall will almost certainly sit out the Indiana game, which should allow some carries for Carlos Hyde. Hyde remains the team’s leading rusher, with 408 yards (5.2 yd. avg) even though he has had only three carries in the two games since his 104-yard, two touchdown effort at Nebraska. Dan Herron’s return has been the biggest factor in Hyde’s inactivity, and the big sophomore was reportedly unhappy last week about his lack of playing time. But Herron and others have taken him aside and assured him that his time will come...and that time may well be this weekend.

To observe the OSU offense against a good Wisconsin team on Saturday was to watch Braxton Miller growing up as a college quarterback. Miller picked up several key first downs with scrambles and designed running plays. He showed a bit more touch on some of his shorter throws, and some tighter spirals on the longer ones. Most impressive to me though was his apparent calm and poise in what was an extremely tense situation.

He is reportedly an emotional kid, but he has found a way to mask that emotion, and his face and his demeanor under center and in the huddle show a young man unfazed by all the tension and the distractions around him. None of that would matter a lick if he still didn’t perform in the clutch like he did Saturday, but OSU fans have to be encouraged by his development so far.

Roberson_Indiana2Key Personnel - Indiana

Offense - Kevin Wilson is an offensive-minded coach, and his Hoosiers reflect that focus. The offense has been able to move the ball on just about every team they have played. They have a true freshman quarterback in Tre Roberson who will be making his third start this week, and OSU fans will see in Roberson some similarities with their own guy Braxton Miller. In fact, there are only three true freshmen starting at QB among the 120 FBS programs, and two of them will be on the field in Columbus on Saturday.

Roberson (pictured), who won Indiana’s Mr. Football award last year, is a dual-threat guy, with great quickness and a strong arm. In two games he has completed 30 of 50 passes (60%), for 376 yards, 2 TD’s, and one INT. Indiana will run a lot of zone-read plays with Roberson triggering the options, and so far he has 205 rushing yards and one rushing score to give Wilson a dimension he wasn’t getting from his previous starter. Both Edward Wright-Baker and Dusty Kiel have suffered ankle injuries as IU quarterbacks this year, which has forced Wilson to turn to his talented freshman.

Indiana has a promising young running back in Stephen Houston, a 6’ 0”, 228 lb sophomore from West Chester, OH. Houston had his best game last week with a 151-yard, 2 TD showing against Northwestern.  He has 577 yards and 6 TD’s on the season, and he’ll take some direct snaps from center in Wilson’s fast-paced no-huddle scheme.

The problems with the two starting wide receivers were mentioned above, and those guys will probably be replaced by Jamonne Chester (17 rec, 212 yds) , Kofi Hughes and Purdue transfer Dre Muhammad (16 rec, 161 yds). Glenville’s Shane Wynn has 14 catches as a true freshman for IU, and he’ll be returning kickoffs for the Hoosiers as well. He had a 99-yard return for a TD against Illinois.

IU_logoThe offensive line has been a mix and match effort for Indiana this year, with personnel shifting positions, and injuries forcing young players into action. The Hoosiers will be starting two seniors along with two true freshmen and a redshirt freshman on the O-line. (Good luck with Mssrs. Simon, Hankins, Goebel and Bellamy.)

Defense - Indiana’s defense is terrible. I could just stop there, but you deserve to know some details. They have been starting five or six freshmen on that side of the ball, and they just haven’t been able to stop the run at all. The Hoosiers are last in the Big Ten in virtually every statistical category, and their ranking among the 120 FBS programs tells the tale...117th in rushing defense...118th in passing efficiency defense...114th in scoring defense. They have allowed 204 points (51.0 point avg.) in their last four games. Two-hundred-four! Defense rests.

Two of the Hoosiers’ most experienced players are Ohio kids playing defensive tackle. Junior Adam Replogle from Centerville and Larry Black from Cincinnati Wyoming anchor the defensive front for IU. Other starters from the Buckeye state include Orrville’s Chase Hoobler at linebacker and a very promising freshman safety from Akron SVSM, Mark Murphy, named for his dad, the Green Bay Packers safety.

There is some talent there for Wilson’s defense, but right now, with fully half of their starters being freshmen, they’re simply too young and green to stop Big Ten offenses.

Cheerleader1Idle Speculation

I think you can expect the Hoosiers to be able to run the ball a little bit. It’s what Kevin Wilson does, and in Roberson and Houston he has a pair of runners who are capable of putting up some numbers. IU has rushed for over 200 yards against three straight Big Ten opponents. But I expect them to eventually run up against the same stiff run defense the Buckeyes throw out there every week. John Simon is really coming into his own as an All-American level talent, and Jonathan Hankins is a play-wrecker of the first order.

With their top two receivers out, and their young quarterback still erratic throwing the football, I think the Hoosiers will struggle in the passing game. Even if the offense is able to generate a big play or two, it shouldn’t matter, because the IU defense is so bad that the Bucks should be able to have their way with them, especially in the running game.

OSU fans would love to see Braxton Miller get a good 20-pass attempt game in, just for the experience of throwing the ball down the field in a game situation. He has yet to attempt more than 13 passes in a game. But if the IU run defense is as bad as the stats say it is, he probably won’t have to, and we’ll be seeing Miller and Hyde and Herron pounding the ball on the ground.

Lots of tickets are available for this one. They are on sale to the public, and there are lots more to be had from regular ticket-holders.

I feel confident that after picking the wrong side three weeks running, I’ll be back on track this week in predicting a solid Buckeye win. I think they might come up short of covering that 28-point spread though.

I’ll say OSU 35 - Indiana 10


OSU Athletics Communications - Game Notes - (pdf)

2011 Ohio State Roster

2011 Indiana Roster

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