Ohio State is running past Indiana, but a passing question persists

Nr. 3 Ohio State has shown that it has what it takes to win the Big Ten Championship.

The Buckeyes used the same formula for all kinds of weather to beat yet another ranked Big Ten enemy in a 42-35 victory over No. 9 Indiana on Saturday. However, the Hoosiers gathered in the second half, revealing what could be Ohio State to regret if not resolved before the Big Ten Championship and College Football Playoff.

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Ohio State (4-0, 4-0 Big Ten) can run the ball and stop the race. Buckeyes can also pass – but can they stop the pass? It’s so simple to move on. Indiana (4-1, 4-1 Big Ten) left this rock out there after quarterback Michael Penix Jr. finished 27th out of 51, passing in 491 yards and five touchdowns while leading an impressive comeback from the second half.

Hoosiers had a chance to win the game. Ty Fryfogle (7 catches, 218 yards, three touchdowns) dropped to fourth-and-2 passes in the first quarter. David Ellis groped in the red zone in the second quarter. Penix threw a pick-six to Shaun Wade in the third quarter. Indiana may complain about missed opportunities and still work toward a potential New Year’s Day 6th berth.

However, the Buckeyes have national championships and that road remains open despite the necessary cleanup. Heisman Trophy challenger Justin Fields (18 of 30, 300 yards, two touchdowns, three interceptions) matched his catch for his career in victory. Fields threw two picks in the first quarter and took two sacks, but some of those fights can be attributed to getting away from what worked in the first half.

Ohio State built a 28-7 lead with a dominant running game. Master Teague scored on a 41-yard touchdown run and then added a 2-yard touchdown run in the next possession. Fields spun out of a sack and jumped after a 9-yard touchdown with 17 seconds left in the half. Teague (26 carries, 169 yards), Fields (15 carries, 78 yards) and Trey Sermon (9 carries, 60 yards) led a rushing attack that had 23 rushing attempts at 196 yards at the break. Ohio State finished with 50 transports to 307 rushing farms.

The lesson? The Buckeyes can win the Big Ten Championship with this rushing attack. Indiana, who rushed 16 times for negative yardage, could have been able to steal this top-10 showdown with a better running game.

So what about the passing defense? There will be criticism this week. Ohio State allowed six passes of 25 yards or more in the win, including four passes of 50 yards or more. These coverage disruptions led to 28 points in the second half for Hoosiers.

It may not matter through the rest of the Big Ten regular season against Illinois, Michigan State and Michigan, but the Big Ten West champion – who could be Wisconsin and quarterback Graham Mertz – can reveal it. So can College Football Playoff contestants who want Heisman Trophy-level quarterbacks across the board.

The good news? Ohio State has time to fix that. The defense shut down the Hoosiers on two potential game-binding drives. The Buckeyes improved to 14-0 against ranked Big Ten teams since second-year coach Ryan Day joined Urban Meyer’s staff as an assistant in 2017. It’s part of an 18-game winning streak against ranked conference opponents since the 17-14 loss to No. 9 Michigan State on November 21, 2015.

Other participants will follow Indiana’s plan with better urgent attacks to support it. Now it’s up to Ohio State to at least slow down the pass if it is to win its first national championship since 2014.

Ohio State Vs. Ranked big ten teams

Date Team Score Opponent Score
November 28, 2015 8 Ohio State 42 Nr. 12 Michigan 13
October 15, 2016 Nr. 2 Ohio State 30 Nr. 8 Wisconsin 2. 3
November 5, 2016 6 Ohio State 62 9 Ohio State 3
November 26, 2016 Nr. 2 Ohio State 30 Nr. 3 Michigan 27
October 28, 2017 6 Ohio State 39 Nr. 2 Penn State 38
November 11, 2017 11 Ohio State 48 13 Michigan State 3
December 2, 2017 8 Ohio State 27 Nr. 3 Wisconsin twenty-one
Sept. 29., 2018 Nr. 4 Ohio State 27 9 Penn State 26
November 10, 2018 8 Ohio State 26 24 Michigan State 6
November 24, 2018 Nr. 10 Ohio State 62 Nr. 4 Michigan 39
December 1, 2018 6 Ohio State Fire. Five Nr. 21 northwest 24
October 5, 2019 Nr. 4 Ohio State 3. 4 25 Michigan State 10
October 26, 2019 Nr. 3 Ohio State 38 Nr. 13 Wisconsin 7
November 23, 2019 Nr. 2 Ohio State 28 9 Penn State 17
November 30, 2019 Nr. 2 Ohio State 56 Nr. 10 Michigan 27
December 7, 2019 Nr. 2 Ohio State 3. 4 Nr. 10 Wisconsin twenty-one
October 31, 2020 Nr. 3 Ohio State 49 18 Penn State 27
November 21, 2020 Nr. 3 Ohio State 42 Nr. 9 Indiana 35

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