Ohio State’s offense endured a rough first half, but it managed to ride junior running back Ezekiel Elliott’s monster game to survive a potential upset from a fiery Indiana team, 34-27.
Despite giving up 128 points over its first four games, Indiana’s defense played lights out as it held the Buckeyes to only six first-half points, the first time OSU failed to score a touchdown in the opening two quarters since last season at Navy. The Buckeye rushing attack struggled mightily in the first half, managing fewer than 20 yards. However, redshirt junior quarterback Cardale Jones piled up 200 yards in the first half through the air and ended with 245 total yards and a touchdown and interception on 18-of-27 passing.
Indiana, coming into the game 4-0 for the first time since 1990, played excellently at the start in front of a sellout crowd at Memorial Stadium. The offense put up more than 400 yards with zero turnovers, though eventually injuries began to take their toll on the Hoosiers.
With backups at running back and quarterback in the game, Indiana began to lose its momentum and fell behind in the second half, though the Hoosiers still never let the Buckeyes pull away either. In fact, the Hoosiers had an excellent chance to score a game-tying touchdown as time expired, but the OSU defense held firm at the goal line.
Elliott was explosive for OSU as he ripped off three fantastic touchdown runs and tallied an incredible 274 yards on the ground. However, for all of Elliott’s heroics, the Buckeye offense still showed serious deficiencies that need to be addressed soon. As a whole, OSU lost the turnover battle once again, 3-0, only converted on two third downs the entire game and only mustered 13 first downs overall.
Without Elliott’s three 50-plus-yard touchdown rushes, Indiana would not have only upset the Buckeyes but would have won convincingly. As Big Ten play continues to heat up, OSU coach Urban Meyer will need to clean up the offense if he hopes to keep pace with the best teams in college football.
By the numbers:
36 – The total yards of offense by OSU in the first quarter.
1.79 – Indiana’s all-time winning percentage against top-five teams, a measly 1-of-56.
20 – OSU’s current winning streak against Indiana.
15 – OSU’s current road winning streak in Big Ten conference play, the longest streak in conference history.
16 – The number of Big Ten wins Indiana has over the past 10 years.
41 – The last time the Hoosiers played a No. 1-ranked Ohio State team, they fell by 41 points in Columbus, 44-3.
25 – The number of years since Indiana had last started 4-0.
48 – The number of rushing yards Elliott broke Keith Byars’ OSU record of rushing yards in a half by. Byars rushed for 195 yards in the second half against Illinois in 1984, while Elliott racked up 243 second-half yards on Saturday.
274 – The total rushing yards by Elliott in the game, tied for the second most in school history behind eventual Heisman Trophy winner Eddie George in 1995.