Written by: TJ Inman (@TJHoosierHuddle)
What: Ohio State Buckeyes at Indiana Hoosiers
When: Saturday, October 3 at 3:30 PM
Where: Memorial Stadium in Bloomington, IN
How to Watch: The game will be broadcast on either ABC or ESPN2 (depending on market). You can also listen to the game on the IU Radio Network.
Gameday Events: Fans are encouraged to wear “Pink & Crimson” to the game to support the Hoosiers and Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The first 3,000 fans receive pink “plantable” ribbons. The I-Association will be recognizing 2015 recipients of both the Clevenger and Orwig Awards and the Marching Hundred will perform a special “Hair Bands of the 80s” halftime show. As always, the Hoosier Village will open three hours prior to kick-off.
Dan Dakich Gameday: After ESPN’s College Gameday opted to take their pre-game circus to the Clemson-Notre Dame game, Dan Dakich proposed an IU Gameday show that he would host. IU AD Fred Glass saw the idea on Twitter and reached out to Dakich to get the ball rolling. Momentum was quickly gained and “Dakich GameDay” is officially happening. Everyone is welcome and encouraged to attend the pregame show which will occur next to Hoosier Village on the SE side of the stadium. Fans are encouraged to show up as early as possible but the show will occur from 12:30-2. Current and former IU athletes, IU cheerleaders and the Marching Hundred will all be present. In addition, free t-shirts will be given away and there will be a slip-n-slide and “refreshments” available. Fans are encouraged to bring creative signs.
Kudos to Dan Dakich and IU Student Media for partnering up to make this happen and add a special element to this weekend.
A Few Things to Look For
1. Can IU Continue to Run With Success?
Jordan Howard leads the nation in rushing yards (675 yards) and the IU offensive line has successfully established themselves as a dominant force in all four of IU’s games this season. On Saturday, the IU rushing attack will face its toughest test to date. Ohio State has multiple future NFL players in the front seven and they have talked all week about stopping Howard. The Hoosiers need to move the ball on the ground consistently, both to set up the passing game and to keep OSU’s offense on the sideline. Expect Indiana to try and get Jordan Howard 30 carries or so and an ambitious goal would be to maintain his 6.1 yards per carry average. The Hoosiers offensive line will need to be operating at their peak in run blocking and pass blocking alike because the Buckeyes are getting sacks on 11.5% of standard down dropbacks (second in the nation).
2. An Unfamiliar Atmosphere
IU’s players are not used to playing in front of a full Memorial Stadium crowd. They aren’t used to hearing how excited people on campus are for the “big game” on the coming Saturday. This is as much buzz as a home game in Bloomington has had in quite a long time. The atmosphere is going to be electric and there are very few negatives to that. However, it’s possible that the Hoosiers have a hard time adjusting to the energy and excitement surrounding the game. This could manifest itself in early penalties (offsides, false start, etc.) of over-eagerness or maybe a dropped pass because the receiver is too amped up to make a play. It’s critical that IU adjusts to the atmosphere, doesn’t make early mistakes and gives the crowd a chance to be in the game past the first quarter. The quicker the players settle into the game, the better.
3. Winning the Turnover Battle
IU’s defense has been gouged for some big plays and some large yardage totals during this young season. However, the Hoosiers have been able to force some turnovers and the IU offense has done a remarkably good job of taking care of the ball. As a result, the Hoosiers are currently +6, the seventh best mark in the country. Meanwhile, the defending national champions have been surprisingly poor with turnovers. The Buckeyes are -1 in turnover margin on the 2015 season. This has mostly been due to the early struggles in the passing game; something Ohio State thinks has been mostly solved. Turnovers are one of the great equalizers and taking care of the ball will be of vital importance for both sides.
4. Limit the Big Plays
The Ohio State Buckeyes are going to connect on some explosive plays. They have too many weapons and too many smart offensive minds to completely shut them down. That being said, it will be important for the Hoosiers to limit the number of big plays and to make sure things don’t snowball. IU can’t let one big play turn into three or four big plays in a short amount of time (as occurred last season late in the third quarter of this matchup when Jalin Marshall went supernova). Jalin Marshall is the name IU fans are most familiar with but guys like Michael Thomas, Dontre Wilson, Braxton Miller and Curtis Samuel are all explosive athletes that can change Saturday’s game in an instant. In addition, Ezekiel Elliott is one of the best tailbacks (if not the best) IU will face all season. Tackling in space will be critical and “playing the next play”, or, not letting things snowball, will be an important thing to watch.