A bye week gave No. 5 Ohio State a chance to regroup and prepare for a difficult second half of the season.
That challenge will begin Saturday night at Indiana.
After facing the Hoosiers, the Buckeyes (5-1, 3-0 Big Ten) will play four of their final five games against ranked teams, a stretch that includes No. 7 Penn State (Oct. 30), No. 25 Purdue (Nov. 13), No. 9 Michigan State (Nov. 20) and No. 6 Michigan (Nov. 27).
“We’re in a lot better of a place than we were in the beginning of the season,” Ohio State coach Ryan Day said. “We’ve got some rest, so now it’s going to be a big run.”
OSU redshirt freshman quarterback C.J. Stroud is starting to find his footing as a first-year starter. Stroud posted a touchdown-to-interception ratio of 10-0 in Ohio State’s back-to-back conference wins over Rutgers and Maryland in the Buckeyes’ two most recent games, and has thrown for 1,699 yards with 18 TDs and three interceptions this season.
“He’s got to continue to be tough, physically tough, mentally tough and emotionally tough,” Day said. “That’s where if he keeps growing in that area, we’ve got a chance.”
Day expects Indiana to bring pressure on Stroud this season after the Hoosiers forced former Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields into three interceptions last year. Indiana hasn’t beaten Ohio State since 1988, but the Hoosiers nearly ended that string last season, rallying from 21 points down at halftime to fall just short, 42-35, at Ohio Stadium.
“It was kind of a high risk, high reward,” Day said. “We had a couple of big plays early on, and in the end we were just kind of hanging on, and so we’ve got to continue to be aggressive.”
Indiana (2-4, 0-3) is still trying to find itself on offense in Big Ten play. The Hoosiers turned the ball over three times during their 20-15 loss to Michigan State on Saturday and have 12 turnovers in six games this season.
“Obviously, offensively not getting the job done,” Indiana football coach Tom Allen said. “Got to protect the football. Not doing that. That’s costly, been very costly again. Not scoring in the red zone.”
Defensively, Indiana will face a stiff test against the Buckeyes, who lead the Big Ten in scoring at 48.5 points per game. Indiana is last in scoring defense at 26.8 per game.
“They create a lot of issues,” Allen said. “They’re just so explosive. Their receiver corps is different than you usually will see. They got three receivers that are as good as anybody you’re going to face in the country. So that puts a lot of stress on you. Talented quarterback. Talented running backs as well.”
–Field Level Media