Indiana Preview: A David Versus Goliath Story

osuHelmetExcept David’s sling isn’t a strong leather strap, it’s a used Kroger grocery bag. He doesn’t have a pocketful of smooth river rocks, he’s got a handful aqua blue aquarium gravel.

He probably doesn’t stand a chance.

Things started out so well for Indiana. They were the talk of the B1G after taking out last year’s SEC West Champ Missouri in a game that stunned everyone.

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The Hoosiers went on to lose every one of their Big Ten conferences games after upsetting Missouri. A letdown game after an emotional high like that can be expected, even forgiven. Six straight conference losses can’t be.

Indiana lost its starting QB, Nate Sudfeld in a loss to Iowa. Chris Covington, Sudfeld’s back-up did not impress against Iowa. True freshman Zander Diamont came under center against Michigan State when #2 QB Covington’s season was ended with an injury.

Maybe those six losses are excusable.

As bad as Indiana has played at QB, Tevin Coleman has been a steady constant for them. The second leading rusher in the nation (behind Melvin Gordon) but probably a better back than Gordon. (Proof? Look at the way Coleman runs versus Gordon. Gordon runs behind a better offensive line yet still looks to bounce it outside whenever possible to use his speed. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. But Coleman’s yards are man yards. B1G yards, between the tackles. Give me that any day of the week).

So that’s sets up one of the major story lines for Ohio State — can they stop the run. They struggled to stop MSU’s ground game and Minnesota’s Cobb had his way with Ohio State’s D. As was noted by our Ronnie Glickman, the currently constituted defense line is not built to stop a downhill rushing attack:

But, with Indiana operating with its fourth option at quarterback this year, there isn’t going to be much of a passing threat, which brings the safeties into the box to stop the running game. Doran Grant will probably draw coverage duties to shadow MotSaG favorite Shane Wynn, allowing the defense to focus on stopping the run. But without a space-eater like Jonathan Hankins, Bennett, Washington, Schutt and Company have their work cut out for them. Curtis Grant and freshman Raekwon McMillan will also have to step up their game as well.

On offense, there probably isn’t too much of a concern. Indiana’s defense is led by Linebacker T.J. Simmons, but I’m using “led” in very loose terms here. As you can see from the matchups in yesterday’s By The Numbers, Indiana can’s top anything on the defensive side of the ball. Ohio State’s offensive line will be too strong, J.T. Barrett too smart and the rest of his offensive weapons too quick for Indiana to hang around for very long.

I look for Ohio State to do what they’ve done since the Virginia Tech game — come out passing early, then establish the run by forcing teams to honor Barrett’s arm AND legs, and then let Ezekiel Elliot, Jalin Marshall and Curtis Samuel to do the rest.

At this point, Ohio State’s path to the B1G Championship Game should be academic. Indiana will prove a meatier test than Michigan (yeah, I said it) but it should be no more than a speed-bump.

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