The Indiana-Ohio State game was one of the best of the season in 2020. Everyone thought Ohio State would roll over the upstart Hoosiers. But Indiana gave them a run for their money. The Buckeyes won, but the Hoosiers played an incredible game. As close as it was, IU fans were excited for 2021. But with that game now set to play this Saturday in Bloomington—well, reality has set in for IU fans.
After some early struggles, Ohio State seems to be clicking on all cylinders. Indiana, on the other hand, is having a hard time getting its offense off the ground. The defense is not doing any better. Without a decent passing game, it will be a long day for IU fans Saturday afternoon.
Ohio State Buckeyes
It was easy for many to jump off the Ohio State bandwagon after the Buckeyes fell to Oregon in Week Two. The offense did not appear to be where it needed to be, and the defense looked nothing like the kind fans are accustomed to seeing. The loss dropped them to No. 9 in the rankings and seemingly out of the national championship picture.
But then things started to turn around. The run game exploded in Week Three against Tulsa. C.J. Stroud got knocked out of that game with an injury. After missing one game, he returned to light up Rutgers for 330 yards and five touchdowns. Last week, against Maryland, he threw for 406 yards and another five touchdowns.
As for the defense, since the loss to Oregon, the Ohio State D has allowed just 57 points. The offense put up 66 on Maryland and 52 on Rutgers. While the stats make the pass defense look bad (256.0 yards/game allowed; No. 103 in the country), they are blowing everyone out. So—does how many points they allow even matter? They are just going to outscore their opponents, anyway.
However, it is worth noting that outside of Oregon, only one team is averaging 30+ points a game this season (Maryland). The most formidable defense they have faced is Minnesota’s (20.2 points/game allowed); three teams give up 29+ points a game. Yes, Ohio State has been dominant in recent weeks. But outside of Oregon, the teams they have played are a combined 16-17.
When the competition is not playing well, it is easy to dominate.
The Hoosiers entered the 2021 college football season with high hopes after playing so well in 2020. With what appeared to be a strong team on paper returning, expectations were higher than ever for an IU football team. But they have not come close to living up to them. It was great to get Michael Penix Jr. back behind center at the start of the season, he has struggled to get on track.
He was not the most accurate quarterback to begin with, completing just 56.4 percent of his passes last season. But this season, he has done worse (53.7 percent)—and he has been turnover prone. Penix had just four interceptions in six games last season. This season, he has had seven in five games.
To make matters worse, he is struggling to get the team in the endzone. Last season he had 14 touchdown passes; this season, only four. However, Penix will likely miss another game after injuring his shoulder against Penn State. Jack Tuttle did not do any better in his first start of the season last week against Michigan State. He accounted for three turnovers, two interceptions, and a fumble.
Combine their struggles in the passing game with a lackluster rushing attack (124.2 yards/game; No. 96), and you have an offense struggling to put up 20 points a game. However, with how well the defense played last week against Michigan State, maybe things are starting to turn around. Despite three turnovers in the game, they had a chance to tie it up late and only lost by five.
To be fair, the Hoosiers schedule has been brutal so far. They have had games against some of the best teams in the country (Iowa, Cincinnati, Penn State, Michigan State). Maybe they would not look too bad if they had played a schedule as soft as Ohio State’s.
Sports Betting Recommendation
No matter how creative you get, it is not possible to devise a scenario where Indiana records a massive upset and beats the Buckeyes. Ohio State has been feasting on poor teams all season, and Indiana looks like just such a team. Maybe their defense puts up a fight as it did against the Spartans. But once they tire out in the second half, this game will get ugly.
Take Ohio State to win against the spread. It’s a big one, but the Buckeyes will win by at least three touchdowns and cover it without a problem. As for the total– with how the Ohio State offense and Indiana defense have played, the Buckeyes might cover the over on their own.