Ohio State looks to regain its swagger on offense when the No. 2 Buckeyes host Indiana on Saturday in Columbus.
After enduring torrential rain and a wind averaging nearly 30 mph to win 21-7 at Northwestern last week, the Buckeyes (9-0, 6-0 Big Ten) want to take their frustrations out on the downtrodden Hoosiers (3-6, 1-5), who have lost six in a row.
Ohio State coach Ryan Day said Tuesday the running game remains a concern even though the Buckeyes produced 207 rushing yards vs. Northwestern after managing a combined 164 yards in the previous two games vs. Iowa and Penn State.
The Buckeyes were stuffed several times on short-yardage situations at Northwestern, including on third- and fourth-down needing a yard in the first quarter when Miyan Williams had the two runs for no yards.
“Of all the things that I was disappointed with on Saturday with running the football, short yardage was the one high on the list,” Day said. “You know they’re all going to be in (the box) and we have to convert in those situations.
“We all need to do better. Going back and watching the film, we have to block better, we have to run better. We have to try to do a better job of equating numbers, all of the above.”
Quarterback C.J. Stroud was among the Buckeyes who struggled, completing 10 of 26 for a career-low 76 yards and no touchdowns. However, he ran for a career-best 79 yards on six carries.
Still, Buckeyes’ 283 total yards were their lowest since they had 277 against Southern California in the 2017 Cotton Bowl.
Despite those numbers, Ohio State is the top scoring team in the nation (45.8 points per game) and is 14th in total offense (484.1 yards per game). That’s bad news for the Hoosiers, who rank 114th in scoring defense (32.2) and 104th in total defense (422.3).
“Coach Day continues to do a tremendous job with that program, and the way that they are playing right now, and at all three phases, obviously a lot of talented players, very good coaches,” Indiana coach Tom Allen said. “It will be a tremendous challenge for us to play on the road against such a really good football team.”
There is concern on the offensive side as well for Indiana. Starting quarterback Connor Bazelak, a transfer from Missouri, did not play last week due to an injury as the Hoosiers lost 45-14 to then-No. 15 Penn State. In addition, backup Jack Tuttle got hurt during the game.
Brendan Sorsby and Dexter Williams II finished the game, but Allen said Monday that Bazelak would start against the Buckeyes to lead an offense that is 100th in scoring (23.3) and 112th in total yards (329.0).
The odds are stacked against the Hoosiers leaving Ohio Stadium with a victory. They have lost 27 straight to the Buckeyes with Indiana’s last win coming in 1988.
“We will continue to fight and battle and that’s what this team is going to do and that’s what we are all about here,” Allen said. “But that’s part of being in the tough cycle we are going through right now, and we have to find a way to break through it.”
–Field Level Media