A 1-point win over a top-10 Penn State team isn’t anything new for Ohio State.
Last season, the Buckeyes came back from being down by 11 with less than five minutes to play to beat the then-No. 2 Nittany Lions 39-38 behind a historic performance from former quarterback J.T. Barrett.
Ohio State lost the following week in a 55-24 beatdown to an unranked Iowa team in Kinnick Stadium.
Now, 11 months later, No. 3 Ohio State faces a similar situation, and goes into a matchup against Indiana hoping history doesn’t repeat itself at Ohio Stadium.
Running backs coach Tony Alford said he won’t make the same mistake he did last season against the Hawkeyes.
“I didn’t do well enough to prepare my guys to play at the level they needed to play at to beat a good football team,” Alford said. “That’s on me.”
Indiana, on paper, has the record to do it — the Hoosiers come into the matchup 4-1, their lone loss coming at home with a score of 35-21 against No. 20 Michigan State.
The offense is led by redshirt sophomore quarterback Peyton Ramsey, another dual-threat quarterback who has 10 touchdowns on the season, eight through the air and two on the ground.
This will be the fourth straight quarterback Ohio State has faced who is known for making plays with his feet after redshirt senior quarterback Trace McSorley broke the Nittany Lions record with 461 all-purpose yards, 175 with his feet.
Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer said he sees a lot of McSorley in Ramsey’s game.
“They have a guy that’s a dual [threat] in Ramsey. He’s a gutsy player, man, and he’s one of those guys that creates something out of nothing,” Meyer said. “Last year’s quarterback that they started, he was dropping seeds on people. This has the other element.”
The quarterback “dropping seeds” last year was Richard Lagow, who threw 65 times for 410 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions in Indiana’s 49-21 loss to the Buckeyes in their opening game of the season.
Ramsey completes 71 percent of his passes, with 1,039 yards, eight touchdowns and five interceptions. But don’t expect Ramsey to light up the stat sheet like Lagow; he averages nine yards per completion.
In the run game, freshman Stevie Scott takes a majority of the carries, earning 4.7 yards per rush for 464 yards and four touchdowns. Ramsey is up to 170 yards rushing through five games.
The offensive numbers don’t stand out much for the Hoosiers; they rank No. 65 in total offense with 412.2 yards per game and No. 80 at 28.2 points per game.
But the defensive side of the football has been Indiana’s strong point thus far, ranking No. 25 with 321.8 yards allowed per game.
The real strength comes from the pass defense, allowing only 163.6 yards per game, which is No. 14 in the nation. The Indiana defense also has accounted for 10 turnovers this season — tied for No. 13 in the NCAA.
“They played very well. Their scheme is outstanding. I think they’re very well coached,” Meyer said. “They have answers for everything.”
Indiana might be 4-1, but its weak schedule to this point does not suggest it is one of the Big Ten’s top teams, capable of upsetting Ohio State.
The Hoosiers have not beaten the Buckeyes since 1988 — a streak of 25 games.
But Indiana does have the benefit of following Penn State, which was at least a piece of Iowa’s stunning upset against Ohio State a season ago.
A piece, yes, but Iowa had a stifling defense and home crowd that Indiana does not.
Redshirt sophomore quarterback Dwayne Haskins showed some flaws against Penn State, but also many strengths, which he put on display in the fourth quarter to bring the Buckeyes back for a close win.
No matter what the Hoosiers have done against the pass game to this point, they have not played a guy like Haskins yet.
The running game has slowed to a halt in the past two games, but Indiana’s mediocre run defense could help running backs J.K. Dobbins and Mike Weber get the ball moving.
Ramsey is a solid quarterback, but he is no McSorley, and nothing on the Hoosiers offensive side stands out enough to get past a defensive line that has been nothing short of superb to this point.
Expect this game to be closer than it should be, considering where it falls on the schedule, but Ohio State is more prepared for a game like this following Iowa last year, and has the pure talent and home-field advantage to avoid any potential trap Indiana holds.
Wyatt Crosher: 34-17 Ohio State
Colin Gay: 42-20 Ohio State
Edward Sutelan: 45-24 Ohio State
Rachel Bules: 34-20 Ohio State
Sydney Riddle: 38-18 Ohio State
Claire Kudika: 37-16 Ohio State
Amanda Parrish: 49-20 Ohio State
Casey Cascaldo: 52-21 Ohio State
Jake Rahe: 56-7 Ohio State