Eleven Warriors Roundtable: Cream and Crimson About to Get Whipped

By Chris Lauderback on November 20, 2020 at 9:20 am
Michael Penix Jr. has to have a huge game for Indiana to have a chance at an upset win over Ohio State.
Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Just as we all expected, No. 3 Ohio State and No. 9 Indiana are set to clash in Ohio Stadium tomorrow, marking the Hoosiers' first-ever regular season top-10 matchup. 

The Buckeyes, conversely, have played in just a smidge more top-10 games, recording a 9-1 record over the last 10 with a 16-5 mark dating back to 2012. 

Tom Allen's Hoosiers, to their credit, stand 4-0 and will enter the Shoe expecting to win. They might be high but hey, I admire the hustle. 

To get your mind, body and soul ready for The Biggest Game of Ohio State's 2020 Regular Season, we welcome 11W's own Ramzy Nasrallah, Kevin Harrish and David Wertheim to this week's roundtable. 

I don’t personally think Indiana’s offense can stay with Ohio State’s no matter what however the game within the game of the Buckeye pass defense versus Indiana’s aerial attack will be interesting to watch. How do you expect the Ohio State secondary to fare versus Michael Penix Jr. and company?

Ramzy: Common opponents are Rutgers and Penn State. Penix threw for 238 against the Scarlet Knights and 170 against the Nittany Lions. He lit up both Michigan secondaries, but who hasn’t? I expect Penix to deal with pressure he hasn’t seen this season, and to make mistakes he’s largely avoided. 

Kevin: Like you said, I don't really expect it to matter all that much either way, because even if this turns into a complete shootout I still don't think Indiana has any sort of real chance to win. But to answer your question honestly, I have no idea. I know that's lame and I should probably just dish a #take either way, but I just don't think I've seen enough to feel confident either way since Ohio State really has yet to face a terribly competent passing attack. I would have felt like I had a good idea after seeing how the secondary looked against Maryland, but COVID had other plans.

David: Well this is the x-factor, right? Ohio State and Justin Fields are going to put up points, and Indiana is going to have to respond if they want to have any chance of winning this game. Indiana has some playmakers. Ty Fryfogle and Whop Philyor, along with tight end Peyton Hendershot, is a pretty good corps that could give Ohio State trouble. With that said, we saw how the Buckeyes did against Penn State's solid group, and save for a couple Jahan Dotson insane catches, it was a pretty good showing for "BIA." I think Indiana will certainly make some plays, but I don't think it'll be enough.

After an unplanned week off due the Maryland game cancellation, do the Buckeyes come out on fire or rusty?

David: Ohio State came out after 10 months off against Nebraska and promptly took their first possession 75 yards down the field on 11 plays, culminating in a touchdown. They'll be fine on offense. The defense is another story. They need to generate pressure, something that has been a struggle for the EDGE rushers so far in this young season. 

Kevin: I've heard more people worried about this than I really expected. I really don't think it's a big deal at all. It's not like Ohio State was the team that had to shut down due to positive tests. The Buckeyes didn't lose any practices or anything. This is no different than a traditional open week, they just didn't know about it until last Wednesday. So no, I don't really expect it to make a difference.

Ramzy: Fire. Day’s teams have never dipped their toe in the game and eased into things. They generally take the field and start burning everything to the ground from the outset. That’s their thing. They like to make a quick impression, and that impression is, “we are rude hosts, you’re going to absolutely hate today and we’re not sorry.”

Name a guy that’s been relatively quiet through the first three games that might be a big factor in tomorrow’s contest. Why are you rolling with that player?

Kevin: Alright, I totally understand if y'all just roll your eyes and keep reading, but... Demario McCall. I know it's ridiculous, but I've seen enough of all of these backs to sincerely believe McCall is the most explosive of the bunch. I'm not saying he's your every-down back, because he doesn't have the power and size to do that. But the dude averages 6.1 yards per carry on his career and is a receiving threat out of the backfield. There's nothing you can say that will convince me he shouldn't see more snaps.

David: Jameson Williams. Indiana will certainly be preparing for the dynamic duo of Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson, so Williams, a supreme deep threat, could find himself in a spot to make a big play a time or two. He has to capitalize on these opportunities. As a third-year player, now is the make-or-break time, especially with a talented stable of young receivers right behind him. Williams has one long touchdown so far this year. He needs to get another. 

Ramzy: Josh Proctor has seven tackles in three games. I think we’ll hear his name a few times on Saturday.

Sure Ohio State-Indiana feels like an important game but Michigan-Rutgers might be just as much fun to watch. Who wins this one and what has surprised you the most about Michigan’s season-to-date?

Ramzy: The loser of this game clinches its way out of Last Place Bowl eligibility on Dec 19. Rutgers is down to only 37 trick plays we haven’t seen yet, but the funny thing about Michigan this year is you don’t need trick plays to beat the Wolverines. What’s surprised me most about Michigan is how they do n o t h i n g well. That’s weird. They should do one thing well. They don’t. You hate to see it.

Kevin: My brain tells Michigan can't possibly lose this game too, but my heart tells me that Greg Schiano's ready to shove a prison shiv between Jim Harbaugh's ribs. I'm gonna follow my heart. I'm not sure I'm necessarily surprised that Michigan's looked like complete ass this season, but if I had to pick one thing it'd be their complete inability to cover any receiver downfield. As terrible as Michigan's been, they usually at least have some semblance of a secondary. And they picked the year Ohio State has the best passing attack I've ever seen to have their worst secondary yet!

David: Michigan will win. Rutgers has beaten two awful, awful teams (yes, I know one of those awful teams beat Michigan), but the Wolverines are still more talented than the Scarlet Knights and Jim Harbaugh, for all his flaws, knows that he cannot lose this game. It will be interesting to see who starts for the Wolverines. Joe Milton has a cannon but is incredibly erratic and Cade McNamara is just kind of blah. Nothing about this Michigan season has really surprised me. The teams they have lost to are all just better than them right now, save for maybe Michigan State. 

Ohio State is a hefty 20.5-point favorite heading into tomorrow’s noon kick. Do the Buckeyes cover? Give us your final score and guess the total offense for each team. 

David: Keeping with tradition, I'm going to say the Buckeyes win 42-28, thus not covering. About 40% of Indiana's points this year have come off turnovers, so if the Buckeyes can take care of the football, they should be in good position to win this game. I'm not good at guessing total offense so I'll just say that the Buckeyes run game will have a big day as the Hoosiers spend a lot of energy trying to stop Justin Fields. 

Kevin: This "top-10 showdown" kind of reminds me of the "top-10 showdown" between Ohio State and Nebraska in 2016, which the Buckeyes won 62-3. I think Indiana's better than Nebraska was that season, but these teams still aren't in the same galaxy. I've got the Buckeyes rolling 56-21, outgaining Indiana 556 to 314.

Ramzy: Ohio State 49, Indiana 20. Fields will throw for close to 400 yards and Indiana will show they’re a legitimate team, but not quite in Ohio State’s stratosphere. Penix will be kept under 200 yards passing due to pressure up front. Ultimately the roster depth disparity will be unfair, as the Buckeyes will sub in more 4 and 5-star guys off their bench than Indiana has recruited over the past five seasons combined.

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