Written By Sammy Jacobs (@Hoosier_Huddle)
NOTE: Written Before Braxton Miller Injury
The Hoosiers are making their fourth trip to Columbus in five years. Indiana hasn’t won at the Shoe since 1987 and it doesn’t look like that streak is going to end in 2014 unless a major upset happens.
Week 12: Ohio State Buckeyes
Time & Date: TBA, Saturday, Nov. 22nd
Venue: Ohio Stadium (Columbus, OH)
Buckeyes at a Glance:
Head Coach: Urban Meyer 3rd year at Ohio State (24-2) (128-25 Overall)
Last Season: 12-2 (8-0)
Buckeye Returning Leaders:
Passing: Braxton Miller (63.5%, 2094 Yds, 24 TD, 7 INT)
Rushing: Braxton Miller (1068 Yds, 6.2 Avg, 12 TD)
Receiving: Devin Smith (660 Yds, 15 Avg, 8 TD)
Preseason Magazine Predictions:
Phil Steele: 1st in the Big Ten East
Lindy’s: 1st in the Big Ten East
Athlon’s: 1st in the Big Ten East
Sporting News: 1st in the Big Ten East
Why the Buckeyes could win:
Indiana’s last win against the Buckeyes came all the way back in 1988 when Anthony Thompson and the Hoosiers throttled Ohio State 41-7 in Bloomington. The Buckeyes will enter the 2014 season as favorites to win the Big Ten East and possibly grab a spot in the new College Football Playoff (yes, this is really the name for it). Ohio State returns two-time Big Ten MVP and Heisman Trophy candidate quarterback Braxton Miller along with wide out Devin Smith who has torched the Hoosiers, when he has caught the ball, in the past with 149 yards and three scores on three catches in two games. Ohio State also boasts one of, if not the best defensive lines in the country and it will make life hard for the Hoosier offense, who only managed to score 14 points against the Buckeyes in 2013. Ohio State just has too many weapons for the Hoosiers to stop and may have the defensive talent to shut down Nate Sudfeld and Company for the second year in a row.
Why They Won’t Pull it Off:
The Buckeyes may enter 2014 as favorites in the Big Ten, however they are not without question marks of their own. Ohio State’s season will hinge on the health of Braxton Miller who has missed time in every season he has played. The Buckeyes no longer have the luxury of Kenny Guiton to fill in if Miller goes down. Urban Meyer’s offense will also have to find a replacement for Carlos Hyde, who ran for over 1,500 yards and 15 touchdowns last season, without relying to heavily on Braxton Miller’s legs. Another issue facing the men in scarlet and grey is their defense. While the Hoosiers didn’t light up the scoreboard with points last year they did gain 442 yards of offense and did not turn the ball over. Indiana also won the time of possession battle running 92 plays in 34:12. Ohio State is also breaking in a new defensive coordinator, Chris Ash, who was brought into inject life into Luke Fickell’s crew. Fickell is still on the staff and will be co-coordinators with Ash. Whatever chance the Hoosiers have at scoring the upset in Columbus it will rest on the health of Braxton Miller, an Ohio State running game that lost 3 of their top four rushers, and a defense, while great in the trenches, was awful in 2013 and is breaking in a new coordinator.
In a perfect world the Hoosiers would not need to win this game to become bowl eligible. This match-up is an uphill battle that the Hoosiers should embrace as an opportunity to go giant hunting, but cannot get too disheartened if they fall short as they follow this game up with Purdue. Indiana has averaged 27.7 points per game against the Buckeyes during the Wilson Era, which is an improvement over the 14.1 points per contest between 1989 and 2011. It will be a long shot, but the Hoosiers have been more competitive in against the bigger teams during Wilson’s tenure in Bloomington. So, don’t write off the Hoosiers before this game kicks off.