Strange Times: Kevin Wilson Nearly Got the Best of Urban Meyer and One of Ohio State's Most Talent-Rich Rosters

By Andrew Ellis on May 12, 2020 at 10:10 am
Kevin Wilson nearly got the best of Urban Meyer in 2015.
Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

There was just something about the Kevin Wilson-led Hoosiers.

Ohio State's offensive coordinator previously spent six years running the show in Bloomington. During that time, the Hoosiers proved to be a bit of a pesky foe for Urban Meyer and the Buckeyes. 

The 2012 matchup was the most exciting of the bunch as the two teams combined for over 1,000 yards and more than 100 points. Braxton Miller and the Buckeyes were fortunate to escape Bloomington with a 52-49 win. Wilson has always been known as an offensive guru whose philosophy was very much in line with that of Meyer. That certainly hasn't changed since he arrived in Columbus in 2017. 

  1 2 3 4 F
OHIO STATE 0 6 14 14 34
INDIANA 3 7 7 10 27

While 2012 was the most explosive matchup, the 2015 edition was perhaps the strangest. Ohio State was ranked No. 1 in the country when it made the trip west to square off against the 4-0 Hoosiers. Wilson was coming off a 4-8 season (one of the worst of his Indiana tenure) and had already matched the previous year's win total.

 An undefeated start is always something an Indiana program can hang its hat on, but this season's four wins had come against Southern Illinois, Florida International, Western Kentucky, and on the road at Wake Forest. Hardly a murderers' row of opponents. 

Urban Meyer and the defending national champions coming to town was viewed as the biggest home game in Indiana's history. The Buckeyes were riding a 17-game winning streak with the most recent loss coming against Virginia Tech in 2014. The season's four wins had come via a revenge game in Blacksburg and home victories over Hawaii, Northern Illinois, and Western Michigan.

It was without question one of Meyer's most talented rosters with Ezekiel Elliott, Michael Thomas, Cardale Jones, J.T. Barrett, Curtis Samuel, Braxton Miller, and Jalin Marshall leading the charge on offense. Defensively, Chris Ash and Luke Fickell had plenty at their disposal including Joey Bosa, Adolphus Washingon, Darron Lee, Raekwon McMillan, and Vonn Bell. 

I was at a wedding on the afternoon of Oct. 3, 2015 and really wasn't all that worried about this game or even angered about the whole fall matrimony thing. It was Urban Meyer and the most talented team in the country going up against some dude named Zander Diamont. Not exactly must-see TV. 

Ohio State's first play went for a nine-yard loss and its first two drives went for a grand total of three yards and two punts. The Hoosiers got up to a 10-0 lead in the second quarter, and I was flabbergasted watching the updates come in through my mobile device. It was one of those games where the offense just couldn't get a thing going and went into the half trailing 10-6 thanks to a pair of Jack Willoughby field goals.

And then Ezekiel Elliott decided to take over for the next two quarters.

Unlike what would eventually go down against Michigan State game, Meyer elected to repeatedly feed his workhorse in the second half. Elliott dashed for three touchdowns and ended up with a career day on the ground. He scored from 55, 65, and 75 yards out while totaling 274 yards on 23 carries. It was the program's second-best single-game rushing performance behind only Eddie George's 317 against Illinois in 1995.

Cardale Jones connected with Michael Thomas for a 23-yard fourth-quarter touchdown to put the Buckeyes up by 10. A Hoosier field goal cut the lead to 7 before the final Elliott score stretched it back up to two touchdowns. Backup quarterback Zander Diamont ran through the defense for a  79-yard score and Indiana eventually got the ball back with a chance to tie. Diamont's final pass fell incomplete in the end zone after a bad snap. 

The loaded Buckeye roster fumbled the ball four times on the day and Jones threw a dreadful red-zone interception. He ultimately would start the first seven games of the season before J.T. Barrett once again took over. The team's lone loss came at home to the Spartans and the season was capped off with a Fiesta Bowl win over Notre Dame. 

Kevin Wilson's Hoosiers finished the season 6-7 and lost against Duke in the Pinstripe Bowl. It was 1988 when Indiana last topped Ohio State, and things haven't been particularly close since Wilson's departure after the 2016 season.

Tom Allen is scheduled to get his next shot on Nov. 7 in Columbus. 

View 39 Comments