Starting the season on the road against a B1G foe for the first time since 1975, Ohio State struggled for the first 30 minutes before going on a 29-0 run in the second half to run away with a 49-21 win over Indiana in Bloomington.
It wasn't pretty as Ohio State finished up the first half down 14-13 and trailing in virtually every meaningful statistic. Notably, Indiana outgained the Buckeyes 286-216 despite churning out just two yards rushing as quarterback Richard Lagow and receivers Simmie Cobbs, Luke Timian and Donovan Hale continuously challenged the Buckeye secondary.
Credit Ohio State however as the Buckeyes made adjustments and came out smoking in the third quarter behind J.K Dobbins, J.T. Barrett and a rejuvenated Zone Six before putting the game on ice early in the fourth.
With the Thursday night win, Ohio State now has plenty of time to get Mike Weber healthy and prepare for a date in the Shoe with Oklahoma one week from Saturday.
Before we shift focus to the Sooners, I present Five Things from a tantalizing victory over the Hoosiers.
PIPP PIPP HOORAY
True freshman tailback J.K. Dobbins was the darling of fall camp and with Mike Weber ultimately held out due to a lingering hamstring issue, the LaGrange, Texas product did not disappoint.
Flashing speed, vision, toughness and a lethal jump cut, Dobbins sliced through the Hoosier defense to the tune of 181 yards on 29 carries (6.2 ypc) with another 24 yards on a pair of receptions.
Dobbins helped keep the Buckeyes in it during the dreadful first half as he cashed in big plays on each of Ohio State's three scoring drives.
On the game's opening possession he hauled in an 18-yard reception on a wheel route on 3rd and 2 extending a field goal drive putting Ohio State up 3-0.
Early in the second quarter Dobbins took a handoff and zig-zagged 35 yards via a handful of shifty cuts leading to another field goal as Ohio State cut its deficit to 7-6.
On Ohio State's next possession, now trailing 14-6, Dobbins got loose for a 27-yard burst to the Hoosier 9-yard line setting up an Antonio Williams plunge bringing the score to 14-13, bad guys.
With Ohio State's passing game out to lunch in the opening half, Dobbins was the lone bright spot offensively tallying 107 yards on 15 carries (7.1 ypc) along with those noted two receptions.
For the game, not only did Dobbins shoulder a ridiculous workload for a true freshman (31 touches), he didn't put the ball on the ground one time.
Unlike some, I'm not writing Weber's epitaph just yet. Instead, I'm looking at Ohio State having one of, if not the most, lethal 1-2 punch at the tailback spot in college football.
FROM SIEVE TO SHIV
Replacing three 1st round NFL draft picks in your secondary is hard.
While many simply expect Kerry Coombs and company to reload every single year, I personally expected the secondary to regress a bit this year. Not that they would be terrible, just that they wouldn't be elite.
For a half, Ohio State's pass defense took it on the chin as IU quarterback Richard Lagow tallied 24 completions on 38 attempts, good for 278 yards and a pair of scores against one interception.
Lagow benefited from great one-on-one plays from Simmie Cobbs (who was a freak two years ago so don't panic over his success against OSU), Luke Timian and Donovan Hale. Cobbs registered seven grabs for 98 yards while Timian caught seven balls for 53 yards and Hale added four for 64 yards as the Hoosiers continuously won 50/50 battles, a few via acrobatic snags, in addition to a couple completions off tipped passes.
The Hoosier passing game's big opening 30 minutes largely came at the expense of Damon Arnette and Kendall Sheffield with even Denzel Ward struggling at times to locate the football. That said, hand it to Indiana, Cobbs in particular, for making some great one-on-one plays.
The second half was a completely different story however as Cobbs added just four grabs for 51 yards while Timian (3 for 19) and Hale (1 for 3) all but disappeared as the secondary adjusted and stiffened.
Ward would finish with five pass breakups and a pick while Sheffield added two breakups and first-time starter Jordan Fuller added a pick of his own.
The secondary still needs work, as do the linebackers in coverage but it was great to see the unit respond favorably holding maybe the best passing attack it will see all year to 132 yards on 27 attempts over the final 30 minutes after getting punked in the first half.
THIRD IS THE WORD
Trailing 14-13 at the break, Ohio State came out and straight up dominated the third quarter.
Outscoring the Hoosiers 22-7 during the 15 minute session, Ohio State racked up a 269-81 advantage in total yards, outgaining IU 96-5 on the ground and 173-76 through the air.
Finally woke, the Buckeye offense averaged 10.3 yards per play ripping off a 13-play, 85 yard touchdown drive followed by drives of 74 yards (a 74-yard cross and run from Barrett to Campbell) and a 75 yard drive capped by a 59-yard catch and go from Johnnie Dixon.
Meanwhile, Ohio State's defense dominated forcing four Hoosier 3-and-outs in five possessions allowing the Buckeyes to build a 35-21 lead entering the fourth quarter.
Barrett completed five of nine tosses for a ridiculous 173 yards and two scores during the run thanks to Campbell and Dixon.
Props to the Buckeyes for waking up the the half, making adjustments, and coming out with purpose.
ZONE SICKS IS ZONE SIX AGAIN.. AT LEAST FOR NOW
Like many others, I've been critical of Zach Smith and his pass catchers over the last year plus, especially the true wideouts (non-H).
It was easy to stay critical in the first half as Ohio State's receiving corps (minus TE and RB) mustered just six catches for 51 yards with a couple drops.
It was the same old, same old as separation was largely nil and Barrett appeared afraid to throw anyone open.
The second half turned out to be a different story however as Campbell (74) and Dixon (59) both showed speed on catch-and-runs helping Zone Six to eight receptions for 194 yards in the second half.
For the game, OSU receivers registered 14 catches (70% of team total) for 245 yards (81% of team total). Campbell paced the attack with six grabs for 136 yards on nine targets followed by Dixon's 65 yards on two catches (three targets).
Drops were still an issue but you have to like how the group rebounded and I'm a big fan of Kevin Wilson's attempt to run a high volume of cross and mesh routes in an effort to give his guys and opportunity to make plays with their feet post-catch.
I'm not sold on Zone Six quite yet but I tip my cap to the maligned group for coming up big in the second half.
LEADING THE WAY
I still don't get how J.T. Barrett is a such a polarizing player considering his track record.
Yes, Barrett stunk it up for much of the first half (10/21 for 95 yards) but as usual, he led his team in a calm manner and turned it on in the second half completing 10 of 14 throws for 209 yards and three touchdowns.
You can argue his numbers were inflated by the long runs turned in by Campbell and Dixon following short/intermediate catches but it should be noted Barrett made the right read and hit both guys on the money, allowing for an easy transition to YAC. Virtually all of his damage occurred via those non-stopstop short/intermediate crossing routes but he did hit Campbell in stride for what should've been a 41-yard touchdown over top the Hoosier defense.
Overall, Barrett tallied 304 yards through the air with another 61 on the ground (with a TD) giving him 365 total yards and four total touchdowns.
He completed 20 of 35 throws, good for only 57%, however I counted four drops plus he had a no-brainer throwaway.
Oh and he also became the school's all-time leader in total offense, passing Art Schlichter.
I got to say, today was a good day.