After coming through with a big win on the road against then-No. 9 Penn State a week ago, Ohio State came back home to take on Indiana.
Last season, the Buckeyes defeated the Nittany Lions by a point, then came out the following week and lost to the then-unranked Iowa Hawkeyes 55-24, ruining their chances at the College Football Playoff.
This year, Ohio State came out ready to prove that last year’s stunning defeat to Iowa was a one-time event.
Despite looking vulnerable at times against Indiana on Saturday, No. 3 Ohio State eventually was able to hold on and pull away, earning the 49-26 victory to stay undefeated on the season.
“At times we played outstanding,” head coach Urban Meyer said. “We just have to keep working at it. I trust our staff. I trust our players. We’re banged up a little bit. And we’ve got to fight through it. But gotta play better.”
Indiana came out firing, thoroughly outplaying the Buckeyes’ secondary for much of the first half, taking a 17-14 lead with seven minutes to go in the second quarter.
But Ohio State’s offense continued to counter, as redshirt sophomore quarterback Dwayne Haskins put on another impressive performance to keep the Buckeyes from their first loss of the season.
Haskins threw for a career high 455 passing yards, completing 33-of-44 passes and earning six passing touchdowns and two interceptions on the day.
Haskins’ six touchdowns tied the program record for most passing touchdowns in a game. His 455 yards through the air was also three shy of the Ohio State record set by Art Schlichter in 1981.
“Every game you want to light it up, but definitely it was a good statistical game,” Haskins said. “I’m glad we got the win most importantly.”
After going down by a field goal halfway through the second quarter, Haskins found redshirt senior wide receivers Parris Campbell and Terry McLaurin on back-to-back drives to put Ohio State up 28-17 late in the first half.
Indiana drove late to make a 37-yard field goal to bring the score to 28-20 by halftime.
The Hoosiers remained close for much of the game, staying within single digits by the end of the third quarter.
Eventually, Haskins closed the door on Indiana’s upset hopes, finding McLaurin on a 17-yard touchdown, his second of the game, putting Ohio State up 42-26.
Sophomore quarterback Peyton Ramsey picked apart the Ohio State secondary in the first half, ending it with 239 yards and two touchdowns, including three completions of 30 yards or more.
Meyer said the team’s defensive effort will continue to be the main focus.
“At the end of the day you have to play great defense to get where you gotta get. And I’m confident that we will,” Meyer said.”At times we’ve played great defense and we have to get everybody healthy and get back to that.”
It looked like the Buckeyes were starting to pull away, starting the third quarter with a 71-yard touchdown from Haskins to Campbell. Campbell was left wide open, and used his speed to easily beat the Hoosiers defenders down the field, putting Ohio State up 35-20.
Campbell finished the day with nine receptions for 142 yards and two touchdowns.
But Indiana kept fighting its way back, bringing the game within nine when Ramsey found redshirt junior wide receiver Donovan Hale wide open in the endzone with less than five minutes to go in the third quarter.
The Hoosiers had opportunities to cut the deficit further, as redshirt freshman safety Bryant Fitzgerald intercepted Haskins, the second interception for Indiana on the day.
Haskins was hit hard as he threw, and the ball fluttered into Fitzgerald’s hands for the easy interception. But Indiana didn’t capitalize on the turnover, leaving the score at 35-26 after three quarters.
Ohio State will attempt to continue its winning streak against Minnesota in Ohio Stadium at 12 p.m. on Oct. 13. Meyer said the pass defense is going to be the key for success as the season progresses.
“A combination of poor pass rush and not blocking on your guys,” Meyer said. “We’ve been fine against the run, but the pass has been killing us and that’s going to bite us, something we’ve got to get fixed.”
Story updated at 9:24 p.m. with quotes from Meyer and Haskins