Indiana Notebook: Ohio State Can Now Officially Focus on Michigan

By Tim Shoemaker on November 23, 2014 at 6:00 am
Darron Lee.

Ohio State senior tight end Jeff Heuerman channeled his inner Bill Belichick following the Buckeyes' 42-27 win over Indiana on Saturday.

"We're on to That Team up North," Heuerman jokingly responded when asked if the result really felt like a win for Ohio State. 

Heuerman went on to finish his answer, but he made his point. Ohio State can officially focus on its rival Michigan.

The Wolverines will come to Ohio Stadium at noon next Saturday trying to salvage their season by beating the Buckeyes and earning bowl eligibility. Michigan is currently just 5-6 after losing 23-16 to Maryland, but Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer said it doesn't really matter the record when the two teams square off.

"We know the history of this game," Meyer said. "Regardless of records or anything, the most motivated, most prepared team will win this next game that's this rivalry."

RUN DEFENSE remains a concern

Ohio State players said all week their goal was to hold Indiana's star running back Tevin Coleman to under 100 yards.

Coleman almost reached that mark on one run.

The Indiana senior became the latest running back to gash the Buckeyes' suddenly-questionable run defense, going for 228 yards on 27 carries. He had touchdown runs of 90 and 52 yards.

Coleman was the third-straight running back to go over the 100-yard barrier against Ohio State. Michigan State's Jeremy Langford and Minnesota's David Cobb also accomplished that feat as the Buckeyes have allowed 677 yards on the ground over the last three games.

While Michigan is Ohio State's next opponent, the Buckeyes could wind up seeing Wisconsin's Melvin Gordon in the Big Ten championship game, so it's certainly an issue that needs to be addressed quickly.

"We've got a lot of work to do stopping the run," linebacker Darron Lee said following the win over Indiana. "Glad to get the win, of course, but we've gotta go back to the drawing board for that."

Too Many Turnovers

Another concern going forward are the number of turnovers the Buckeyes have had over the last two weeks. It's been what has allowed both the Hoosiers and Golden Gophers to hang in games they were being statistically dominated.

The Buckeyes had three first-half turnovers against Indiana — a fumble by Michael Thomas which led to a Hoosiers' touchdowns and a pair of J.T. Barrett interceptions.

Ohio State jumped out to a quick 14-0 lead, but the Thomas' fumble was the first domino to fall in allowing Indiana to hang around.

"Turnovers are momentum swingers," running back Ezekiel Elliott said.

They seem to be turning the tide in favor of the Buckeyes' opponents in recent weeks, too. It's something Meyer said the team has got to clean up.

"First of all, we have to stop the turnovers," he said. "There's going to be a ridiculous amount of effort, pressure on the coaches, too, to make sure we're all teaching the right stuff."

Grading j.t. Barrett's up-and-down day

From the eye test, Ohio State redshirt freshman quarterback J.T. Barrett didn't have his greatest day. Then, you glance down at the stat sheet and see another 300-yard, four-touchdown performance.

Barrett was 25 for 35 for 302 yards and four touchdowns. He carried the ball 20 times for an additional 92 yards. He became Ohio State's single-season leader for touchdown passes and tied Drew Brees' Big Ten record for single-season TDs.

But Barrett also threw a pair of first-half interceptions and missed several throws to wide open receivers. The stats may jump off the page, but it was far from a perfect performance by the Heisman Trophy candidate.

"I just tried to focus on what the defense is giving me as a quarterback," Barrett said. "There was one to Jalin I forced over the top, I knew it was man coverage across the board and just tried to make a play, but I just tried to settle down and just play. Take what the defense was giving me."

Although Barrett didn't play his best game, Meyer was pleased with his response.

"J.T. missed about three (throws) today that were pretty open, but he also made some great throws," Meyer said. "J.T. responds past his years. Like a junior or senior, you'd imagine, he's disappointed in himself, but let's it go to the next series."

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