Despite a dominant performance last week, Ohio State enters ranked No. 6 in the country in the latest AP Top-25 Polls. ESPN and Yahoo have the Buckeyes ranked No. 5 and No. 6, respectively, in their weekly College Football Power Rankings. Can the Buckeyes continue to roll at Memorial Stadium in Indiana on Saturday afternoon?
After a less-than-convincing performance in Week 1 versus Florida Atlantic, Ohio State trounced Cincinnati 42-0 last week, establishing themselves as legitimate playoff contenders. With the win, the Buckeyes extended their winning streak against in-state opponents to 42 games. Cincinnati has not beaten the Buckeyes since 1897 — a losing streak that has now stretched to 12 games. Quarterback Justin Fields continues to position himself at the forefront of the Heisman race and his nine total touchdowns is tied for the most by an OSU quarterback through two games in the past 15 years. Last week, the first-year starter completed 20 of 25 passes for 224 yards and two scores, while adding 42 rushing yards and two touchdowns on the ground. While the Georgia-transfer was expected to contribute with his legs, Fields has excelled from the pocket, completing 80 percent of his passes with no interceptions through the first two weeks.
Indiana should enter Week 3 brimming with confidence after blowing out Eastern Illinois 52-0 to improve to 2-0 heading into Big Ten play. Redshirt freshman quarterback Michael Penix Jr. continued to prove why head coach Tom Allen chose him in a three-way quarterback competition during the spring. Penix Jr. bounced back from a two-interception performance last week to complete 14 of 20 passes for 197 yards and two touchdowns before giving way to backup Peyton Ramsey. The first-year starter can move the pocket and will help the running game with his ability to move the chains with his legs. Penix also threw for 326 yards and ran for 67 more, completing passes to seven different receivers during a 34-24 Week 1 victory against Ball State. Ramsey also performed well versus Eastern Illinois, completing 13 of 14 passes for 226 yards and two touchdowns.
Young leading fearsome Buckeyes’ defense into The Rock
The Hoosiers will represent Ohio State’s first road test of the young season and the first road start of Justin Fields’ career. The Buckeyes did their young quarterback a favor last week, as they were able to get J.K. Dobbins and the run game going last week. Dobbins looked dynamic in Week 2 versus Cincinnati, carrying the ball 17 times for 141 yards and two touchdowns to help take some of the pressure off Fields. The junior running back has topped the 1,000-yard mark in each of his first two seasons in Columbus and he now has 20 career rushing touchdowns as a member of the Buckeyes.
Head coach Ryan Day was pretty pleased with the way Fields has played thus far.
“I think he picked up kind of from where he left off,” said Day. Still made some good decisions. I thought he was pretty good in the passing game. Still took a couple hits in there that we didn’t like. Got to learn that way. Couple things in protection as well. Took one bad sack.”
“Overall, I thought it was a pretty clean game,” he continued. “It’s the same thing, there’s going to be things that show up. He got away with a couple throws that maybe as the competition increases he won’t. But overall it was solid and we got to keep building on it.”
— Ohio State Football (@OhioStateFB) September 10, 2019
Two games into the season, junior defensive end Chase Young has looked like one of the best defensive players in college football. Young battled ankle injuries for the majority of his sophomore campaign but came into the year with plenty of hype. The expectation was that Young would have a big year and end up as a top pick in the NFL Draft. So far, Young has been terrific statistically, racking up three sacks, eight solo tackles and a blocked field goal through two games. His combination of size and speed makes him a tough assignment for anyone, but too much attention on Young often leads to an unblocked blitz getting to the quarterback.
Hoosiers will look to take shots at Fields on Saturday
The Hoosiers defense looked good last week, allowing just five first downs and 116 yards of total offense, but no one is expecting a repeat performance at home versus Ohio State on Saturday. Indiana defensive coordinator Kane Womack said that his unit is going to take “some shots” at OSU quarterback Justin Fields this week. They might have to do a lot more than that to beat the Buckeyes for the first time since 1988.
The Hoosiers have been finding new ways to take advantage of their spread offense in 2019, as Penix Jr. hasn’t been afraid to share the ball among his receivers. Through two games, 13 different receivers have caught a pass for the Hoosiers and the five touchdown passes have been split between five different guys. Four different players have at least 100-yards receiving for the season, led by junior Whop Philyor who has 10 catches for 141 yards for the year. Senior wideout Donovan Hale led the team last week with five catches for 110 yards and a score.
Coach Tom Allen talks about the upcoming game with the Buckeyes.
“Looking forward to this match-up, Coach Day in his first year there as head coach. Excellent football coach. I have a lot of respect for him as a person and as a coach and the job that he’s already doing. They’re typical Ohio State: Very, very big, physical, and explosive on both sides of the football, very dominant up front and have really overwhelmed their first two opponents, very dynamic quarterback in Justin Fields and a lot of playmakers on both sides of the ball in their skill positions.”
Update (9/12/19): Pennix Jr. is a game-time decision for Saturday’s game according to Indiana coach Tom Allen. The injury was undisclosed though Allen mentioned that he practiced “a bit” this week. The injury reportedly not suffered against Eastern Illinois and Allen described the injury as “something not feeling right”. Though he did not elaborate on the specifics, he did say that this is not a long-term injury.
- Buckeyes are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games overall.
- Buckeyes are 5-2 ATS in their last 7 games in September.
- Buckeyes are 35-17-1 ATS in their last 53 road games vs. a team with a winning home record.
- Hoosiers are 1-6 ATS in their last 7 games following an ATS win.
- Hoosiers are 1-7-1 ATS in their last 9 games after allowing less than 170 yards passing in their previous game.
- Hoosiers are 1-9-1 ATS in their last 11 games following a straight up win of more than 20 points