Ohio State rolls over Indiana, 42-14

WHAT HAPPENED: Ohio State scored 42 straight points to start the game and beat Indiana 42-14 after two late cosmetic touchdowns by the Hoosiers. With the victory in front of 104,990 at Ohio Stadium on Senior Day, the Buckeyes improved to 11-0 overall, 7-0 in the Big Ten and clinched the conference’s Leaders Division, earning a berth in the Big Ten Championship Game against Michigan State on Dec. 7 in Indianapolis.

Indiana’s loss dropped the Hoosiers to 4-7 overall, 2-5 in the Big Ten, which means they clinch a sixth straight losing season and will fail to reach a bowl game yet again. The last time they played in a bowl game was 2007.

WHO MADE IT HAPPEN: Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller was as good as advertised and as usual, using his speed and skill in the zone read option game to baffle the Indiana defense. He rushed for 144 yards and two touchdowns on 13 carries and also threw for 160 yards and two touchdowns, completing 11 of his 17 passes. 

Tailback Carlos Hyde took advantage of much of the space and deception Miller created rushing for 117 yards and two scores. H-back Dontre Wilson caught a touchdown pass as did wide receiver Devin Smith.

On defense, Ohio State had a number of players make monster plays in the red zone. Linebacker Ryan Shazier recorded an astounding 20 tackles including 5.0 for loss and a sack. He also forced a fumble and had a pass-breakup. Cornerback Bradley Roby had 10 tackles, three pass break-ups and a blocked punt. Defensive tackle Michael Bennett had three tackles for loss and two sacks.

WHY DID IT HAPPEN: Ohio State got explosion plays against Indiana’s defense, which of course was to be expected with the conference’s most porous defense facing off against the most explosive offense. Though the Hoosiers knew the zone read option was coming they still committed too hard to the tailback on numerous occasions leaving Braxton Miller massive holes to run through, and even when they committed to Hyde it still didn’t matter. Ohio State finished with 311 yards on the ground on 39 carries, an 8.0 yards per carry average.

But in fairness to the IU defense, which at this point, should only be counted on for a few stops per game, the Hoosiers could have asked for much less on that side of the ball. The Hoosiers forced two punts and created three turnovers. Only one of those turnovers led to points, and it was the last one on Indiana’s last drive of the game. Indiana had five drives into the red zone that did failed to result in points until they finally scored on their last two possessions.

A big part of that was that Indiana failed to develop much of a running game and didn’t have much trust in it in the red zone, especially when ¬†sophomore quarterback Nate Sudfeld was in the game and Tre Roberson was not. And even when Roberson was, he couldn’t punch it in.

The injury to sophomore Tevin Coleman has weakened the rushing attack severely and after the Hoosiers rushed for 317 yards against Illinois in the game in which Coleman sprained his ankle, they’ve been held under 150 in each of the last two weeks, finishing with just 122 on 39 carries on Saturday, an average of 3.1 yards per rush. Roberson accounted for 79 of those as tailbacks Stephen Houston and D’Angelo Roberts finished with just 64.

And the Hoosiers weren’t very good at passing the ball in the red zone either. Sudfeld completed 25 of 41 passes for 224 yards and two touchdowns and Roberson completed seven of 12 for 96 yards as they combined for 320. However they were considerably less effective in the red zone, completing just four of 11 passes there before the scoring drives.

The Hoosiers had almost a 10 minute advantage on possession and the Buckeyes only outgained them 471-442, but because the Hoosiers couldn’t score in the red zone. It was never that close.

WHAT DOES IT MEAN: Saturday’s game confirmed what just about everybody said three weeks ago, which was that the Hoosiers’ bowl hopes ended when Tevin Coleman dropped the lateral. When the schedule came out, Wisconsin and Ohio State were the games that appeared to be the least winnable for the Hoosiers and that turned out to be the case. Against Top 25 talent, the Hoosiers simply didn’t have the answer. Though the defense came up with more stops and big plays than might have been expected, they still gave up 471 yards of total offense and six touchdowns on just 56 plays and were quite obviously overmatched. And against truly great defense, the high-powered offense was not nearly as high-powered.

Though many new it was coming, this loss also meant the official end of hope. Until this week, IU fans could still dream about a December game as astoundingly unlikely as it was. Now it’s truly impossible. The Hoosiers can still post a season that is an improvement over last year, but it will be a disappointment for fans that believed this was the year to crack the postseason.

And now all that is left to play for for Indiana is the Bucket.

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