With the Buckeyes back in the thick of the Big Ten Leaders Division race, the arrival of the Indiana Hoosiers to the Horseshoe Saturday seemed to provide just the pedestrian opponent the team, especially the offense, needed to build some confidence.
Early on, the script was anything but expected.
Coming in at 1-8 and having their lone win come against FCS foe South Carolina State, the Hoosiers gave the Buckeyes more than they bargained for taking an early 10-0 lead.
Eventually, the Buckeyes would iron things out as an electrifying 81-yard run by Braxton Miller ignited the crowd and the team.
On the legs of redshirt senior running back Daniel “Boom” Herron, sophomore Carlos Hyde, and freshman quarterback Braxton Miller, the Buckeyes amassed a total of 346 yards rushing, manhandling the Hoosiers at the line of scrimmage.
The Hoosiers managed to stick around throughout most of the game as the Buckeyes didn’t take the lead for good until there were just nine seconds left in the third quarter.
A dominant fourth quarter defensive performance along with continued success on the ground helped to cement a 34-20 victory.
While the win was what the Buckeyes needed, an average performance against such a miserable team was slightly worrisome. While the running game looked spectacular again, the offense managed just 55 yards through the air as Miller threw an interception without any touchdowns.
The defense also looked sketchy at times, but in the end, figured out the Indiana offense and shut it down.
The win sets up a match up next Saturday, Nov. 12 in West Lafayette against the Purdue Boilermakers.
Currently standing at 4-5 and 2-3 in Big Ten play, the Boilermakers have had an up-and-down season under third year head coach Danny Hope.
They’ve dealt with adversity as projected starting quarterback Rob Henry was lost for the season back in spring practice. Junior Caleb TerBush has stepped in and performed admirably. A dual-headed rushing attack of Ralph Bolden and Akeem Shavers has been sound for the team as well.
Now while this game would seem like one that the Buckeyes should be able to handle, the 7th-ranked 2009 Buckeye team had the same thought as they prepared for a mid-October trip to Purdue.
Promptly, the 1-5 Boilermakers handed the Buckeyes their second loss of the season, nearly costing the team a Big Ten title.
That Buckeye team was able to bounce back and finish the season with a Rose Bowl win. This one wouldn’t be as fortunate.
With potentially mammoth games slated with Penn State coming to the ‘Shoe and then a matchup with the Wolverines in Ann Arbor in the upcoming weeks, it would not be surprising if the Buckeyes are looking ahead a little bit.
Though, with each game left on the schedule a virtual must-win for Ohio State to advance to the inaugural Big Ten Championship game, there can be no slip-ups.
Whether you want to call it an easy win or a potential trap game, one thing is for sure: with a loss to Purdue, the Buckeyes can kiss their Rose Bowl hopes goodbye.
It’d be a shame to see a season saved in such a momentous and monumental fashion be lost in a very winnable game.