The Indiana Hoosiers made a game of it Saturday against a heavily favored Ohio State.
Hoosiers sophomore wide receiver Kofi Hughes said his team set out to prove the matchup would not be just a bye week for OSU.
“That offended us,” Hughes said. “We didn’t like that.”
Indiana fans have to like that kind of attitude from one of their team’s players. But, in the end, the Hoosiers (1-9, 0-6) lost, 34-20, to an OSU team that was off its game.
After the game you wouldn’t have known OSU had just survived a close encounter with a team buried in the Big Ten Leaders Division standings. The Buckeyes were loose and cocky after letting the Hoosiers hang in the game for 3 1/2 quarters, and I loved it.
The Buckeyes were showing glimpses of swagger and confidence. And, after fighting back into the Big Ten title race, why not?
Sophomore running back Carlos Hyde rushed for 105 yards and a touchdown against Indiana. Hyde said a referee was blocking his path during a 47-yard run late in the game and needed the official to step aside because he knew he was going to score.
“The ref couldn’t make up his mind which way he wanted to go, and I was like, ‘Just move,'” Hyde said. “When I broke on that, I knew I had to get to the end zone. … There were two (Indiana players) chasing me, and I knew they can’t catch me.”
Junior defensive back Travis Howard one-upped Hyde with his postgame hot dogging, calling his fourth-quarter interception of Indiana freshman quarterback Tre Roberson’s pass “great.”
“I was just sitting there like, ‘He isn’t about to throw on this play,'” Howard said. “I was sitting there the whole time hoping he didn’t throw it.”
Hoping for your opponent not to throw you an interception? Talk about cockiness.
Senior left tackle Mike Adams, who tips the scale at 320 pounds, also made a joke of freshman quarterback Braxton Miller’s 81-yard, first-quarter touchdown run, saying he kept pace with OSU’s fleet-footed signal-caller.
“Oh, I made it all the way down there (to the end zone),” Adams said.
Of course, there were the generic comments about OSU’s ability to win its remaining games. Everyone from senior linebacker Tyler Moeller to Howard to Adams gave the standard “one game at a time.”
Try as the team handlers might to quell the growing ego of the OSU dressing room, swagger always will come to the surface.
Besides giving OSU a winning record in Big Ten play for the first time this season, Saturday’s win against the Hoosiers made the team eligible for a postseason bowl game. But, the NCAA’s announcement about program violations could exclude the Buckeyes from postseason play, as well as a berth in the inaugural Big Ten Championship Game.
For now, OSU has everything to play for. The team is playing well and the players have a justified amount of swagger.
It’s about time.