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Last call: Final thoughts, questions and predictions ahead of Ohio State’s Top-10 showdown against Indiana



After an unexpected week off after the canceled Maryland game, Ohio State is back in action at The Shoe this weekend.

In a matchup between a pair of top-10 nationally ranked teams, the No. 3 Buckeyes host No. 9 Indiana at noon, which Eleven warriors employees share their final thoughts and predictions that go into the battle for the top spot in the Big Ten East.

Concluding thoughts

I can ‘t come close to choosing against Justin Fields

Technically, this is a top-10 matchup. Indiana is a great team with a good quarterback and a bunch of recurring starters on both sides of the ball led by a whole head coach in Tom Allen who clearly has this team believing it has the ability to beat any enemy of the College Football Gods sits in front of it. Victories against Michigan, Penn State, Michigan State and Rutgers back pointing upward.

But there is only one Justin Fields, and through three games no one has even come close to slowing him down, let alone stopping him completely. Because the Buckeyes want to get over the hump and win a national championship, we in Ohio spend so much time dissecting every minute detail about this team. Sometimes it is not necessary. Sometimes a team has an unreal talent that makes these discussions seem trivial.

Hoosiers are good. Hoosiers have no fields. Unless he does things he has not done all season ̵

1; turn the ball around, miss goals and look generally deadly – how could anyone choose against him?

– Colin Hass-Hill

This game could shape what we – and the CFP Committee – think about Ohio State for three weeks

Realistically, Ohio State will not impress anyone by beating Illinois and Michigan State in the next two games. And given that Michigan is also 1-3, the rivalry game does not stand out as a tough test for the Buckeyes either. So as the College Football Playoff selection committee prepares to put together its first ranking for the season next week, how the Buckeyes perform against Indiana on Saturday could have a big impact on how good Ohio State is perceived as the rest of the regular season.

Ohio State is likely to get to the playoffs if it wins, no matter how impressive it wins. But a convincing, dominant performance against Hoosiers could certainly go a long way toward convincing the CFP committee that the Buckeyes deserve one of the top spots in Tuesday’s first rankings.

– Dan Hope

Indiana is a good team, but the talent gap is still massive

As Dan said in the Ohio State-Indiana preview, Hoosiers is no joke. Their 4-0 start is backed by the best quarterback the Buckeyes face in the regular season and a defense that has done a good job of forcing turnover.

But as Dan and Colin both pointed out on Real Pod on Wednesdays – available on both Spotify and Apple Podcasts for those of you stragglers who still need to subscribe and leave a five star review – Ohio State is No. 1 in the 247Sports Team Talent Composite and Indiana is a shockingly low No. 13.

I would be surprised if it does not show up this afternoon.

On another note, I’m curious as to whether Ohio State’s week will put it out of rhythm or not and will lead to a slightly sharp start in the first quarter. I do not think it will (see my prediction for that thought), but it is still on the table.

– Zack Carpenter

This does not feel like a top 10 showdown

Nothing about this week has felt like Ohio State was about to take on a top-10 opponent in this year’s biggest regular season game, essentially determining the Big Ten East race.

From how fans feel about the game to how coaches and players talk about the game to how the media covers the game – nothing about any of it feels like a top-10 showdown.

I mean, even during Ryan Day’s radio program, he answered questions about his TV habits, the third-string kicker, and how challenging a play works in college football prior to a game that could determine pretty much everything about Ohio State’s season.

It reminds me of when Ohio State hosted Nebraska in 2016, and everyone on Earth knew the Huskers did not belong to the same galaxy as the Buckeyes, even though they had a No. 10 next to their name.

Ohio State won that game 62-3. Let’s see how this one plays out.

– Kevin Harrish

Questions

Will Hoosiers’ receiving corps be a strong enough test for Ohio State’s secondary?

This will be the toughest group of passers-by the Buckeyes face until the College Football Playoffs. So what will we see from the Buckeyes’ secondary this afternoon as it protects triumvirate Ty Fryfogle, Whop Philyor and Peyton Hendershot?

It’s a good mid-season test for Shaun Wade, Sevyn Banks and Co., who can serve as a turning point as they prepare for a possible matchup with Alabama or Clemson down the line.

– Zack Carpenter

Is Indiana the Right Deal?

For a while, you could always count on Michigan and Penn State winning nine or ten games and often fighting something with a game against Ohio State. Not this year. These two teams have an overall record of 1-7.

So is Indiana really the team that gives the Buckeyes the most trouble? Given the huge talent gap and Fields presence, Hoosiers comes in on Saturday as a three-touchdown underdog, with the public clearly showing a significant degree of disbelief in them. Tom Allen certainly does not care, but does it matter?

– Colin Hass-Hill

How does Ohio State’s pass protection against Indiana’s blitz-heavy pass-rush?

Ohio State’s offensive line, especially its inner offensive line, has not quite lived up to the high expectations it went into the season with, and it could face its toughest test to date against Hoosiers. Both Ryan Day and Justin Fields talked this week about how Indiana has a defense that flashes from all areas, so the Buckeyes’ pass guards – including their tight ends and running backs – need to be prepared for that challenge.

Day said Indiana’s blitzing is “unique to the game plan” and “there really aren’t many trends for it,” so the Buckeyes need to be prepared for anything. But given that left-back Harry Miller has been the weakest link on the offensive line so far, it’s obvious Hoosiers could look to attack his holes and he’s going to have to tackle that challenge if they do.

– Dan Hope

What should Ohio State do by running back?

I’m going to get on level with you guys – if Ohio State does not have its issues in the current game resolved after what was basically an early season of week, these issues just will not be resolved and this team is what it is on this point in time.

That said, I’m curious to see how the Buckeyes try to drive the ball against the best defense they will play throughout the regular season. Want to see more jet sweeps? More quarterback runs? Anything Demario McCall? Time will tell!

– Kevin Harrish

Forecast

Shaun Wade starts playing as a first-round pick again

Wade’s first three games in the outside corner kick have been a disappointment as he has been beaten for three touchdowns in Ohio State’s last two games alone, but he was a U.S. president for a reason. In a game where the Buckeyes need him to step up, after two full weeks of practice to learn from his mistakes and continue to hone his technique at his new position, I think Wade will win the war with the Indiana receivers on Saturday and begins to restore its case to be Ohio State’s next corner kick in the first round of the 2021 NFL draft.

– Dan Hope

Ohio State covers the spread easily

I do not think Indiana’s defense really impresses Ohio State’s offensive staff, and I think Fields and Co. will lay a clinic. I know that predicting that this Buckeye offense is good for football is about as ballsy a prediction as saying that Dag will shout at an official, shrug his shoulders, and throw up his hands with a gentle irritation at at some point during the game while arguing a call. But here I am.

My score prediction is 49-17, giving the Buckeyes an easy cover on the 20.5-point spread. I think they come out to four leaders in the first half and it’s blouses from there.

– Zack Carpenter

Zach Harrison is playing his best game of the season

Ohio State has simply not needed a ton from its edge rushers so far this year. The three teams it has played have two that have jumped back and forth between quarterbacks (Penn State and Nebraska) and one that starts a quarterback who has thrown more wickets than touchdown passes (Rutgers).

The Buckeyes have done just fine without Zach Harrison going out. They need more from their second-year defensive end on Saturday when Michael Penix Jr. coming to town and I think we’ll see him put together his best game yet this fall.

– Colin Hass-Hill

Justin Fields throws after more touchdowns than imperfections

Indiana Secondary is probably the best Ohio State has faced so far and is certainly the best in the conference to create wiretaps. It does not matter at all. Justin Fields will pick each other as he has every other secondary so far this year. I’m not convinced there is a defense in the country you can throw at him to slow him down at this point.

– Kevin Harrish


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