Last Call: Final Thoughts, Questions and Predictions Ahead of Ohio State’s Seventh Game of the 2021 Season at Indiana

By 11W Staff on October 23, 2021 at 7:30 am
Indiana vs. Ohio State

The second half of Ohio State’s 2021 football season begins tonight.

Ohio State hasn’t lost to Indiana since 1988, and the Buckeyes will look to keep that streak going as they play the Hoosiers under the Saturday night lights at Memorial Stadium in Bloomington, where kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. on ABC.

With about 12 hours to go until the action begins, we share our final thoughts, questions and predictions for the Buckeyes’ battle with the Hoosiers.

Final Thoughts

This isn't the marquee game I was expecting

Going into the season, this was one of the games I had circled on the calendar as one of Ohio State's biggest tests. Considering that Indiana was more competitive with Ohio State than any team other than Alabama in 2020, and that the Hoosiers appeared to have plenty of momentum coming out of last season, I thought this would be another matchup of ranked teams with both teams vying for a Big Ten East title.

Instead, the Hoosiers have already fallen out of contention, losing four of their first six games including all of their first three games – and they don’t look like nearly the threat to Ohio State that I thought they might be entering the season. Every game is a high-stakes game for Ohio State now that it needs to win out, of course, and the Hoosiers aren’t incapable of an upset if the Buckeyes don’t play well. But with four more regular-season games looming against teams currently ranked in the top 25, this feels more like a game Ohio State should win convincingly rather than one of the season’s biggest tests.

– Dan Hope

Ohio State can ravage this offensive line

This may be one of the worst offensive lines in the entire conference. Jack Tuttle already was going to need a lot of help from his teammates to keep up point-for-point with the Buckeyes. He’s not going to get it there, which may result in a feast for the Rushmen.

– Garrick Hodge

Indiana has taken a decisive step back this year

I'm probably stating the obvious here, but this Indiana team is simply nowhere near as good as it was last year or was expected to be this year.

The offense has been fairly abysmal with some of the worst quarterback play in the country (even when Michael Penix was healthy) behind a terrible offensive line, and somehow the defense has been worse, ranking second-to-last in the conference in scoring defense.

Yes, Indiana has only really lost to elite teams this year and has been mostly fine against the bad teams it has played, but that doesn't make for a good football team or indicate that the Hoosiers have any shot in this game.

– Kevin Harrish

Don't expect this game to resemble last year's

Last year’s matchup between these two programs was a high-octane, offense-heavy thriller that came down to the final seconds. The contest had major postseason implications for both teams, as each ranked in the AP top 10 at the time, and the final result was much more dramatic than most had anticipated.

This year, however, a hotly contested four-quarter battle would yield considerably more shock. Yes, Indiana has only lost to stellar opposition this season, but Ohio State has fit that description and then some as of late, rattling off four straight wins after its Week 2 stumble. Gone is much of the lingering doubt from the Oregon and Tulsa performances, and if concerns do remain, they aren’t likely to rear their head against the 2-4 Hoosiers this week.

– Griffin Strom


Can the Hoosiers make C.J. Stroud uncomfortable?

While Justin Fields often looked superhuman in his two years as Ohio State’s starting quarterback, Indiana made him look like a mere mortal last season when it forced Fields to throw three interceptions. The Hoosiers will need to do the same against Stroud to give themselves a chance to win tonight.

Stroud has handled pressure well so far this season – per Pro Football Focus, he has the third-best passer rating under pressure among starting quarterbacks this season – but Indiana runs a blitz-heavy defense that will look to confuse Stroud and influence him to make mistakes. In that regard, Saturday night’s game could be the toughest defensive test that Stroud has so far as Ohio State’s starting quarterback, and how well he handles it could make the difference between the Buckeyes winning big or the Hoosiers having a chance.

– Dan Hope

Can Indiana’s defense slow down OSU at all?

The most points the Hoosiers have allowed all season is 38 to Cincinnati. That’s not terrible in today’s offense-heavy college football landscape, but this is probably the best offense Indiana will face all year. You’d think there’d be some early juice from the Indiana defense playing at home and at night, but with C.J. Stroud playing at a Heisman caliber level and TreVeyon Henderson ripping through defenses, it may be too much to ask that unit to contain OSU for four quarters.

– Garrick Hodge

Is this finally the week for Ohio State's defensive ends?

Ohio State has not seemed to be able to pressure the quarterback off the edge this season, but if it's ever going to happen, you have to figure it'll be tonight. Indiana has arguably the worst offensive line in the Big Ten and the Buckeyes are healthy and hungry out on the edge with Tyreke Smith even returning this week.

– Kevin Harrish

Will we see any significant lineup changes after the bye?

Ryan Day said this week that the Buckeye coaching staff used the bye to assess what has worked well and what has not when it comes to on-field personnel, which could mean we see some rotational changes as the second half of the regular season begins. One name in particular that has been vying for more time is Matthew Jones, who is rated by Pro Football Focus as the top offensive guard in the country this season despite being the sixth man for the Buckeye front line at present. 

Defensive end is another position where change is possible, given that young pass rushers have accumulated more sacks than the veterans so far, and whether or not Cameron Martinez will regain the starting job at cover safety from Marcus Williamson is one more topic of interest. Will Steele Chambers and Palaie Gaoteote see their roles increase at linebacker? Add that to the list as well, as we monitor any potential modifications to the Buckeye rotations coming out of the bye.

– Griffin Strom


The Buckeyes pick off Tuttle three times

Without regular starter Michael Penix Jr., backup Jack Tuttle is in for a long day at the office against Ohio State. Tuttle threw 52 pass attempts against Michigan State and only amassed 182 yards, so that should be a red flag right there. Considering he'll be under constant pressure and the Hoosiers will likely trail for most of the contest, Denzel Burke, Ronnie Hickman and other members of the OSU secondary will have plenty of chances to rack up interceptions.

– Garrick Hodge

Ohio State’s defense scores for a fifth straight game

Garrick correctly predicted before Ohio State’s last game against Maryland that the Buckeyes would score a defensive touchdown for a fourth straight game. I'm going to double down on that prediction this week. Indiana has thrown the most interceptions (10) of any Big Ten team so far this season, including three that have been returned for touchdowns, which should mean another ripe opportunity for the Buckeye defense to pounce with a big play.

– Dan Hope

Ohio State puts up 60+ points

Everyone – Ryan Day included – keeps insisting that this Indiana defense is good and the strength of their team, but there's really just no evidence for that. Statistically, this is a very bad defense. And you might have heard that Ohio State's offense is the best in the country. This is not going to be pretty!

– Kevin Harrish

Ohio State holds Indiana under 100 yards rushing

On paper, the Buckeye defense holds a clear advantage against a Hoosier run game that has sputtered all season. With an average of 3.4 yards per carry, Indiana ranks among the worst 23 teams in the country. Team rushing leader Stephen Carr has only topped the 100-yard mark against Idaho and Western Kentucky, while hitting the five yards per carry mark on just one occasion this season.

Meanwhile, Ohio State has only allowed 100 yards rushing to one team (Rutgers) in the past four games, and the Scarlet Knights barely crossed the threshold themselves. Not to mention, Ohio State’s prolific offense will likely necessitate an Indiana emphasis on throwing the ball, which should handicap the Hoosiers’ production in the run game even more.

– Griffin Strom

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