Last Call: Final Thoughts, Questions and Predictions Ahead of Ohio State’s Top-10 Showdown Against Indiana

By 11W Staff on November 21, 2020 at 7:30 am
Justin Fields
Justin Fields, Master Teague – Brian Spurlock/USA Today

Following an unexpected week off after the canceled Maryland game, Ohio State is back in action at The Shoe this weekend.

In a matchup between a pair of top-10 nationally ranked teams, the No. 3 Buckeyes will host No. 9 Indiana at noon, as the Eleven Warriors staff members share their final thoughts and predictions going into the fight for the top spot in the Big Ten East.

Final Thoughts

I Can’t Come Close To Picking Against Justin Fields

Technically, this is a top-10 matchup. Indiana is a good team with a good quarterback and a bunch of returning starters on both sides of the ball led by a heck of a head coach in Tom Allen who clearly has this team believing it has the ability to knock off any foe the College Football Gods put in front of it. Victories against Michigan, Penn State, Michigan State and Rutgers back that point up.

But there’s only one Justin Fields, and through three games, nobody has even come close to slowing him down, let alone stopping him altogether. Because the Buckeyes wants to get over the hump and win a national championship, we in Ohio spend so much time dissecting every minute detail about this team. Sometimes, that’s not necessary. Sometimes, one team has an unreal talent who makes those discussions seem trivial.

The Hoosiers are good. The Hoosiers don’t have Fields. Unless he does things he hasn’t done all season – turn the ball over, miss targets and generally look mortal – how could anybody pick against him?

– Colin Hass-Hill

This game could shape what we – and the CFP committee – think about Ohio State for three-plus weeks

Realistically, Ohio State isn't going to impress anyone by beating Illinois and Michigan State in its next two games. And considering Michigan is also 1-3, the rivalry game doesn't stand out as a tough test for the Buckeyes either. So as the College Football Playoff selection committee prepares to compile its first rankings of the season next week, how the Buckeyes perform against Indiana on Saturday could hold a lot of weight toward how good Ohio State is perceived to be for the rest of the regular season.

Ohio State's probably making the playoff if it wins out regardless of how impressively it wins. But a convincing, dominant performance against the Hoosiers could certainly go a long way toward convincing the CFP committee that the Buckeyes deserve one of the top spots in Tuesday's initial rankings.

– Dan Hope

Indiana’s a good team, but the talent gap is still massive

Like Dan said in the Ohio State-Indiana preview, the Hoosiers are no joke. Their 4-0 start is backed by the best quarterback the Buckeyes are going to face in the regular season and a defense that’s done a nice job forcing turnovers.

But as Dan and Colin both pointed out on Real Pod Wednesdays — available on both Spotify and Apple Podcasts for those of you stragglers who still need to subscribe and leave a five-star review — Ohio State is No. 1 in the Big Ten's 247Sports Team Talent Composite and Indiana is a shockingly low No. 13 in the conference.

I’d be surprised if that doesn’t show itself this afternoon.

On another note, I’m curious if Ohio State’s week off will put it out of rhythm or not and will lead to a bit of a jagged start in the first quarter. I don’t think it will (see my prediction for that thought), but it’s still on the table.

– Zack Carpenter

This doesn't feel like a top-10 showdown

Nothing about this week has felt like Ohio State was about to take on a top-10 opponent in the biggest regular-season game of the year that essentially decides the Big Ten East race.

From how the fans are feeling the game to how the coaches and players are talking about the game to how the media is covering the game – nothing about any of it feels like a top-10 showdown.

I mean, even during Ryan Day's radio show he was answering questions about his television habits, the third-string kicker and how challenging a play works in college football ahead of a game that could decide pretty much everything about Ohio State's season.

It reminds me of when Ohio State hosted Nebraska in 2016, and everyone on Earth knew the Huskers didn't belong in the same galaxy as the Buckeyes, even if they did have a No. 10 next to their name.

Ohio State won that game 62-3. Let's see how this one plays out.

– Kevin Harrish


Will the Hoosiers’ receiving corps be a strong enough test for Ohio State’s secondary?

This will be the toughest group of pass-catchers the Buckeyes face until the College Football Playoff. So what will we see from the Buckeyes’ secondary this afternoon when it guards the triumvirate of Ty Fryfogle, Whop Philyor and Peyton Hendershot?

It’s a good midseason test for Shaun Wade, Sevyn Banks and Co. that could serve as a turning point as they prepare for an eventual matchup with Alabama or Clemson down the line.

– Zack Carpenter

Is Indiana The Real Deal?

For a quite a while, you could always count on Michigan and Penn State to win nine or 10 games and, oftentimes, put up somewhat of a fight against Ohio State. Not this year. Those two teams have a combined record of 1-7.

So is Indiana really the team that’ll give the Buckeyes the most trouble? Given the massive talent gap and the presence of Fields, the Hoosiers enter Saturday as a three-touchdown underdog with the public clearly showing a significant degree of disbelief in them. Tom Allen surely doesn’t care, but does that matter?

– Colin Hass-Hill

How will Ohio State's pass protection hold up against Indiana's blitz-heavy pass-rush?

Ohio State's offensive line, particularly its interior offensive line, hasn't quite lived up to the lofty expectations it entered the season with, and it could face its toughest test of the year to date against the Hoosiers. Both Ryan Day and Justin Fields talked this week about how Indiana has a defense that blitzes from all areas, so the Buckeyes' pass protectors – also including their tight ends and running backs – need to be prepared for that challenge.

Day said Indiana's blitzing is “kind of unique to game plan” and “there’s really not a lot of tendencies on that,” so the Buckeyes need to be prepared for everything. But given that left guard Harry Miller has been the weakest link on the offensive line so far, it stands to reason that the Hoosiers could look to attack his gaps, and he's going to need to step up to that challenge if they do.

– Dan Hope

What is Ohio State going to do at running back?

I'm going to level with you guys – if Ohio State doesn't have its issues in the running game fixed after what was basically an early-season bye week, those issues just aren't going to get fixed and this team is what it is at this point.

That said, I'm curious to see how the Buckeyes try to run the ball against the best run defense they'll play all regular season. Will we see more jet sweeps? More quarterback runs? Some Demario McCall? Time will tell!

– Kevin Harrish


Shaun Wade starts playing like a first-round pick again

Wade's first three games at outside cornerback have been a disappointment, as he's been beaten for three touchdowns in Ohio State's last two games alone, but he was a preseason All-American for a reason. In a game where the Buckeyes need him to step up, after two full weeks of practice to learn from his mistakes and continue honing his technique at his new position, I think Wade will win the war with Indiana's receivers on Saturday and start to reestablish his case for being Ohio State's next first-round cornerback in the 2021 NFL draft.

– Dan Hope

Ohio State covers the spread easily

I don’t think Indiana’s defense truly impresses Ohio State’s offensive staff, and I think Fields and Co. are going to put on a clinic. I know that predicting this Buckeye offense to be good at football things is about as ballsy a prediction as saying Day is gonna yell at an official, shrug his shoulders and throw his hands up with a look of exasperation at some point during the game while arguing a call. But here I am.

My score prediction is 49-17, giving the Buckeyes an easy cover of that 20.5-point spread. I think they’ll get out to a four-touchdown lead in the first half and it’s blouses from there.

– Zack Carpenter

Zach Harrison Plays His Best Game Of The Season

Ohio State simply hasn’t needed a ton from its edge rushers so far this year. The three teams it has played feature two that have bounced back and forth between quarterbacks (Penn State and Nebraska) and one that’s starting a quarterback who’s thrown more interceptions than touchdown passes (Rutgers).

The Buckeyes have gotten by just fine without Zach Harrison going off. They’ll need more from their sophomore defensive end on Saturday when Michael Penix Jr. comes to town, and I think we’ll see him put together his best game yet this fall.

– Colin Hass-Hill

Justin Fields throws for more touchdowns than incompletions

Indiana's secondary is probably the best Ohio State's faced so far and is definitely the best in the conference at creating interceptions. That's not going to matter at all. Justin Fields is going to pick apart this secondary like he has every other secondary so far this year. I'm not convinced there is a defense in the country you could throw at him to slow him down at this point.

– Kevin Harrish

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