The season is half over, gentle readers. Let’s hope that OSU plays the second half of its season like it plays the second half of its games. If so, the rest of the Big 10 is in serious trouble.
This week’s sacrificial lamb: The Indiana Hoosiers.
When Indiana has the ball
Interestingly, the Hoosier’s worst offensive performance this year was a 24-point outing against FCS Indiana State in their season opener. Since then they’ve been averaging 35 points a game, including 27 points against the Big10′s leading defense.
Put simply, this offense can move the ball very efficiently when it’s sufficiently motivated to do so. To do this, Indiana utilizes the short passing game, otherwise known as “Fickell’s Kryptonite.” At 7.1 yards per completion, they match up almost identically to Miami (OH), California, and UCF – all teams that had no problem taking advantage of OSU’s weak linebacker play and soft zone cushions.
However, past performance may be misleading in this case. The OSU defense of the past two weeks has found an identity that wasn’t present in those early games. Lost in the noise of the offensive explosion last week was the Buckeyes’ solid defensive performance against the Big 10′s leading offense. In particular, OSU’s linebacker play has improved.
On paper, the Hoosiers offensive gameplan matches up well against the Buckeyes. Should they overcome the psychological aspects of being a major underdog, they could cause OSU some headaches.
However, none of this matters because…
When OSU has the ball
This season, the only thing that has stopped the OSU offense has been its own mistakes. Those mistakes have come in two forms: psychological, when they just don’t care and start slow; and turnovers in or near the red zone, which have ended at least half a dozen scoring drives in the first six games.
Even through those faults, however, Braxton & Co are averaging 39 points a game. Last week the offense scored 49 points in three quarters, and did it without breaking a sweat.
The Hoosier’s 99th ranked rushing defense will not present much of a challenge to Ohio State.
If we assume that OSU will come out lethargic again, as they have in four of their six games, Indiana may be motivated to make it interesting going into the half. But we all know how this one ends:
What say you?