#8 Ohio State (6-0) enters Saturday night's game at Indiana (2-3) having won 16 in a row over the Hoosiers, and is 67-12-5 against them overall.
The 16-game winning streak is the second-longest for the Buckeyes in this series.
Indiana has won just twice in this series over the last 60 years. Those two losses occurred in 1987 and 1988.
Ohio State is 24-2-1 against Indiana in Bloomington.
When Indiana Has the Ball
The Hoosiers lead the Big Ten in passing yardage, throwing for 307 yards per game. They've done it mostly with quarterbacks Cameron Coffman and Nate Sudfeld, though Coffman went the entire way in last week's 31-27 loss to Michigan State.
Coffman threw the ball 48 times last week, with twelve of his 33 completions going to slot receiver Shane Wynn. Wynn is the team's primary beneficiary of the Hoosiers' screen game, and while he has gamebreaking ability, his long reception is just 17 yards over the last four games.
Indiana does throw a lot of screen passes out wide, which the Buckeyes have had issues in defending, but they will also throw the ball downfield in one-on-one situations.
Ohio State will get starting safety C.J. Barnett back, which will move his replacement Orhian Johnson back to his nickel spot. Johnson has performed very well this year, and will play plenty on Saturday.
Neither of Indiana's two current quarterbacks are tremendous running threats, and they will both prefer to remain in the pocket.Quick passes will be the general rule, especially against the Buckeyes' improving pass rush.
Ohio State will fluctuate between press coverage out wide and off-man coverage. Press coverage will combat Indiana's screen game, but it will leave linebackers in one-on-one coverage, and one of those linebackers will be Storm Klein.
Normally Klein would be removed on passing downs, but with the injury to Etienne Sabino, Klein will likely have to stay on the field.
Tight end Ted Bolser will also have to be accounted for in the passing game. Kofi Hughes and Cody Latimer are the Hoosiers' two leading receivers in terms of yardage, and both are capable receivers downfield.
Given Indiana's weapons in the passing game, a complete game from starting safety Christian Bryant will go a long way in this one. If he is solid in his tackling, the Hoosiers may not reach the endzone.
Cornerbacks Bradley Roby and Travis Howard will be busy, and don't be surprised when they're both at the top of the leaderboard in tackles when this one is over.
Provided the Buckeyes can contain Indiana's running game early, they will likely abandon it. Tailback Stephen Houston has had some positive moments this year, but he is more of a straight line runner who would rather lower a shoulder than spin out of trouble.
Given Indiana's penchant for passing, there could be an opportunity for freshmen defensive linemen Adolphus Washington and Noah Spence to see the field a bit more this week.
The Hoosiers are third in the conference in sacks allowed, but that is due mostly to the quick passing game. They will be starting two true freshmen on the offensive line in left tackle Jason Spriggs and right guard Dan Freeney. Both will have their hands full with Ohio State's experienced defensive line.
The Hoosiers lead the conference in kickoff returns, averaging 28.25 yards per return. They are the only team in the Big Ten with a touchdown return. Tailback Tevin Coleman, who is averaging 41.2 yards on his four returns, went for 96 yards earlier in the season.
They are much less productive on punt returns, as Nick Stoner is averaging just 6.1 yards per return on seven attempts.
The Buckeyes did a very good job of defending Nebraska's kick return last week and will need to be on point against this weekend, especially given the possible number of kickoffs.
Placekicker Mitch Ewald is 5-8 on field goals this season, and only 1-3 from 40 yards and beyond. Punter Erich Toth is averaging 41.3 yards per punt this season.
When Ohio State Has the Ball
Indiana is giving up 441 yards of total offense to their opponents this season, which is by far the worst in the conference. Their pass efficiency defense is eleventh in the Big Ten and they are dead last in rush defense (194.8 ypg).
The Buckeyes, meanwhile, are second in the conference in rushing, averaging 248.7 yards rushing per game. They will look to improve upon those numbers and Indiana may not be able to stop them.
Last week, tailback Carlos Hyde carried the ball 28 times for 140 yards and four touchdowns. All three of those numbers were career highs.
If the game is close enough, Hyde will approach a similar number of carries. The junior has three career 100-yard rushing days, two against Nebraska and one against Indiana.
The most explosive aspect of Ohio State's running game, however, continues to be quarterback Braxton Miller. Miller is averaging 161 yards rushing per game in Big Ten play, and 127.2 yards per game overall.
The Ohio State offensive line has really begun to show some ability to dominate its opponents, especially late in games as defenses grow tired.
The Indiana defense is led by tackle Adam Replogle, who amazingly is tied for the team lead in tackles with 36. He also leads in tackles for loss (4.5) and sacks (2.5). He is a consistent veteran who will win a few battles in this game.
Middle linebacker David Cooper is the other leading tackler. He has pretty good range and will be one of the key guys defending the Buckeyes' running quarterback.
Ohio State will continue with their wildcat look with Carlos Hyde, and Urban Meyer also said that he would like to get backup quarterback Kenny Guiton in the game in the first half because there are some things that Guiton does very well.
This would be a good week for the Buckeye passing game to show some things as well. If the running game is working, it will be hard to go away from it, but Miller should be able to take some downfield shots this weekend.
Last week receiver Devin Smith didn't catch a pass. They won't want to do that a second week in a row. Expect Smith to be involved early.
Also last week the tight ends were very involved in the offense. If the Hoosier defense doesn't address that fact on Saturday night, expect to see another good night down the seam for those guys.
The Hoosier secondary is actually improving in terms of talent from where they have been. Greg Heban moves from starting cornerback to nickel back as proof of the growing depth.
How Indiana plays the Buckeyes will determine what the Ohio State offense does. If they play nickel, expect to see a healthy dosage of Hyde and Miller. If they play a base, expect to see the ball spread around.
Against Nebraska the Buckeyes utilized the quarterback counter with ruthless efficiency, and they very well could do it again. Or they could simply base a bunch of looks off of that particular formation and keep the Hoosier defense guessing every step of the way.
Ohio State is still looking for a kick returner, but it looks like they found a punt returner following Corey Brown's 76-yard touchdown return last week against Nebraska.
Punter Ben Buchanan has upped his average to 42 yards per punt, and nearly half of his punts are fair caught.
Ohio State is last in the nation in field goal attempts, having attempted (and made) just two field goals this season. Fortunately, kicker Drew Basil is staying busy with extra points.
How It Will End Up
Indiana will open the game by trying to attack Ohio State with screen passes and quick hitters, but it won't work. They will need to adjust to what the Buckeyes are doing in order to stay in this game.
Ohio State will continue to run the ball, and do it with some more read option plays by Miller. They need to get him reading on a 16th-grade level, and the only way to do that is by giving him more work.
Expect the Buckeye running game to find a new bread and butter play this week. Last week it was the QB counter. Previously it has been the QB power. Perhaps this week it will be more keeps on the read options.
This will also be a good time to break out some more play-action passing. The only limit in the Ohio State passing game is on Miller right now. The receivers can do everything asked of them.
Indiana's offense will need to identify where they think Ohio State is vulnerable on defense, and try to pick at that scab until the blood is pouring. The Hoosier receivers out wide are not dynamic players after the catch, so tackling should come much easier.
Indiana's best chance of scoring will be to involve the Ohio State linebackers in the passing game, which could then free up more room for Stephen Houston in the draw running game.
In the end, however, it will be the Ohio State ground game that dictates this game. The Buckeye passing game and defense will simply be trying to get a word in edgewise.
Ohio State 42 - Indiana 24
Donate by Check :
1380 King Avenue
Columbus, Ohio 43212
Help us bring you more Buckeye coverage. Donate to the-Ozone.
Click here to email this the-Ozone feature to a friend...or even a foe.
(c) 2010 The O-Zone, O-Zone Communications, Inc. All rights reserved.
This material may not be published, rebroadcast,rewritten, or redistributed.