Cody Cousino / Multimedia editor
The air came out of the balloon in Ohio State football’s 2011 season with a too-close-for-comfort win against Indiana. The Buckeyes (6-0, 2-0 Big Ten) will try to avoid another deflating performance against the Hoosiers (2-3, 0-2 Big Ten) Saturday in Bloomington, Ind.
OSU’s signature victory of the 2011 season came on Oct. 29 against Wisconsin in a 33-29 victory at Ohio Stadium. The next week, though, OSU disappointed in its 34-20 win against an Indiana team the Buckeyes couldn’t put away until late in the game.
Last season’s win against Indiana, which finished the season 1-11, left OSU coaches and players spending post-game interviews explaining away their performance, proved to be a momentum buster – OSU lost four straight to close out the season.
OSU is coming off what appears to have been the 2012 season’s signature win on Saturday, a 63-38 drubbing of visiting Nebraska. The kind of letdown OSU experienced against the Hoosiers in November 2011 seems unlikely to occur again this weekend, and the formidable OSU offense might be enough to do the Hoosiers in.
The Buckeyes, ranked No. 8 in the Associated Press Top 25 poll, just posted their highest offensive output since a Sept. 21, 1996 game against Pittsburgh. OSU won that game, 72-0. The Buckeyes scored 73 points against Eastern Michigan during the 2010 season, which was later vacated.
Can Indiana hang with the high-flying Buckeyes’ offensive attack, and what about the Hoosier defense? Decide for yourself after seeing how the teams match up.
OSU will put points on the board against Indiana, that much we know. The Buckeyes are 22nd in America with almost 39 points per game. At almost 250 yards per game, OSU is also the 10th-ranked rushing offense in the country.
Leading OSU’s charge on the ground is sophomore quarterback Braxton Miller, who has 763 yards, eight touchdowns and an average of more than 127 yards per game. Miller also set a new single-game, OSU quarterback rushing record against Nebraska with 186 yards on the ground.
Indiana’s offense racks up plenty of yards – the Hoosiers have the 26th-ranked total offense as they average just less than 472 yards per game and score almost 33 points per game.
The Hoosiers defense has struggled at times, having allowed 41 points against Ball State on Sept. 15, 44 against Northwestern on Sept. 29 and 31 against Michigan State on Oct. 6. With that in mind, the Buckeyes’ offense could hang another big number on the scoreboard this weekend.
OSU and Indiana’s respective defensive units have had trouble keeping teams out of the end zone in 2012, but the Buckeyes seem to be in a better position for success on Saturday considering recent success in some areas.
The Buckeyes’ defense has demonstrated a propensity for making big plays and enter Saturday’s game with 13 takeaways on the year – OSU has 10 interceptions, three fumble recoveries and two turnovers returned for a touchdown (sophomore cornerback Bradley Roby has both touchdowns). Against Nebraska, OSU tallied four sacks and nine tackles for loss despite allowing the Cornhuskers to score 38 points in the game.
The Hoosiers’ defense has forced opponents into five turnovers this season, including three interceptions and two fumble recoveries. Indiana is allowing 441 yards per game in 2012 and has allowed more touchdowns (17) than any other Big Ten Conference team.
OSU junior receiver Corey Brown is coming into the matchup with Indiana with the hot special teams hands following his 76-yard punt return for a touchdown to put the game out of reach Saturday against Nebraska. For the season, OSU is averaging 12 yards per punt return, which is good enough for 33rd in America.
Indiana’s punt return game doesn’t match OSU’s – the Hoosiers are averaging more than six yards per punt return. Kickoff returns are a different story – Indiana averages more than 28 yards per return in that category, and bests OSU’s nearly 20 yards per return.
As far as kicking goes, OSU junior Drew Basil has connected on each field goal attempt this season, but he’s only attempted two. By contrast, Indiana redshirt junior kicker Mitch Ewald is 5-of-8 on field goal attempts. Ewald has also proven his ability from distance, connecting on 2-of-2 tried from 30-39 yards and hitting 1-of-3 tries from 40-49 yards.