No. 10 Indiana travels to No. 3 Ohio State on Saturday (noon, FOX) in a game that should decide the Big Ten East Division.
Who didn’t have that prediction written down in 2020?
The Hoosiers (4-0) have emerged as media darling under coach Tom Allen after beating Penn State, Michigan and Michigan State in the first four weeks of the season. Michael Penix Jr. leads the Big Ten in passing yards, and the Hoosiers will try to break a 25-game losing streak to the Buckeyes (3-0).
It won’t be easy. Second-year coach Ryan Day has yet to lose a Big Ten game, and Heisman Trophy front-runner Justin Fields leads the conference with 11 touchdowns and an 86.7 completion percentage. Ohio State is a three-TD favorite in a top-10 showdown.
It’s the biggest College Football Playoff piece for the conference at this point. With that in mind, here’s a closer look at Saturday’s showdown.
Indiana vs. Ohio State odds
- Spread: Ohio State -20.5
- Over/under: 64.5
- Point spread odds: Indiana –110, Ohio State -110
The Buckeyes opened as a 21-point favorite, but the line knocked down a half-point this week. That’s giving the Hoosiers a little respect in a rivalry where they haven’t had much success.
Indiana vs. Ohio State all-time series
Ohio State leads the all-time series against Indiana 76-9-4. The Buckeyes have won 25 straight games on the field against the Hoosiers, though the 2010 contest was later vacated.
Indiana has not beat the Buckeyes since a 41-7 blowout on Oct. 8, 1988.
Three trends to know
— The Buckeyes are 2-1 ATS this season and 8-3 ATS as a home favorite under Day. It is still a large spread considering that both teams are in the top 10.
— Indiana is 0-3 S/U against the Buckeyes under Allen. The Hoosiers have lost those three meetings by an average of 30.7 points.
— The Hoosiers are 4-0 ATS this season, and that includes covers as underdogs against Penn State and Michigan. Both of those games were at Memorial Stadium in Bloomington, Ind. Indiana has not won at Ohio Stadium since 1987.
Three things to watch
— Michael Penix Jr. and Justin Fields. These are the two best quarterbacks in the Big Ten this season, and it’s a chance for Penix to prove it on the road. He averages 267.5 passing yards per game, and the Buckeyes do allow 9.9 yards per completion. Favorite target Ty Fryfogle averages 17.7 yards per catch and will test Ohio State’s secondary, led by All-American cornerback Shaun Wade. Fields is working with the 1-2 tandem of Garrett Wilson (344 yards, 2 TDs) and Chris Olave (288 yards, 4 TDs).
— Indiana’s pressure defense. The Hoosiers average three sacks per game, and the Buckeyes have allowed seven sacks in three games. Can Indiana do enough to get Fields into third-and-longs — and will that matter? Ohio State has been able to convert 58.3 percent of its third-down opportunities this season.
— Running game. Big Ten football is still predicated on the running game, and the Hoosiers have allowed just 111.0 rushing yards per game. If they can slow down Master Teague and Trey Sermon, then they will have a chance. But that’s only if the Hoosiers can generate more than 3.5 yards per carry on the other side. Indiana cannot allow Ohio State’s pass rushers — especially Tommy Togiai and Haskell Garrett on the interior — to dictate the game.
Stat that matters
That’s Ohio State’s record against ranked Big Ten opponents since Day joined the Ohio State staff as an offensive coordinator in 2017. The Buckeyes have won those 12 games by an average score of 39.5-20.4. Ohio State was 5-0 in that situation with Day as head coach last year, and that average score was 39.8-18.2.
Indiana should be fired up. It’s a tremendous opportunity for the program, and it won’t be a surprise if Penix Jr. leads an early scoring drive that puts the Hoosiers ahead. In each of the past three meetings, the score has been 7-3 after one quarter. The Buckeyes, like in those past three meetings, will take control from there. Fields will throw multiple first-half TDs, and a pair of turnovers in the second half will spring-load another convincing victory for the three-time defending Big Ten champions.
Ohio State 45, Indiana 21