Indiana Daily Student

Indiana football wants to do something it hasn’t in 30 years: beat Ohio State

Senior wide reciever Ty Fryfogle attempts to dive for the catch Sept. 18, 2021, at Memorial Stadium. Indiana will play Ohio State at 7:30 p.m. Saturday in Bloomington.
Senior wide reciever Ty Fryfogle attempts to dive for the catch Sept. 18, 2021, at Memorial Stadium. Indiana will play Ohio State at 7:30 p.m. Saturday in Bloomington.

The first time Indiana and Ohio State played each other was Oct. 29, 1904, when both teams were still independent of conferences. The game ended with an Indiana victory, 8-0.

In 1952, the two teams faced off again in the last meeting before the Western conference was officially rebranded as the Big Ten. Ohio State won that game 33-13.

Indiana proceeded to go winless in 31 straight games in the series until 1987 when it won 31-10. Indiana won again in 1988, a 43-10 victory. In 1990, the teams tied 27-27.

That’s the last year the Hoosiers didn’t lose to the Buckeyes. Since then, Indiana is 0-26 and has been outscored 966-414.

“This is the biggest game of the season because it's the next one.It just happens to be against Ohio State,” head coach Tom Allen said in a press conference Monday. “Obviously, we know who they are, what they have done in the past, but we're playing the Ohio State team that's on this field in 2021.”

The No. 5-ranked Ohio State team will be arriving for Saturday’s game in Bloomington with the nation’s best offense in tow. 

The Buckeyes are first in the country in total yards per game with 563.2. They are second in scoring offense, averaging 48.5 points per game, and their passing offense is the eighth-best, averaging 352.2 yards per game.

Ohio State’s receiving core includes senior Chris Olave and junior Garrett Wilson, both of whom were named First-Team Preseason All-Big Ten.

“They're just so explosive,” Allen said. “Their receiver core is different than you usually will see. They have three receivers that are as good as anybody you're going to face in the country, so that puts a lot of stress on you.”

To slow down the Buckeye offense, the Hoosiers will have to force redshirt freshman quarterback C.J. Stroud into making mistakes. Stroud threw an interception in each of his first three games of the year. In two starts since, Stroud hasn’t thrown an interception and has increased his completion percentage to above 70%.

“I think that core concept of pressuring the quarterback, being able to do things there with stressing him out mentally and physically is going to be key,” Allen said.

Indiana nearly ended its losing streak against Ohio State last year when it came back from a 28-7 halftime deficit before eventually falling 42-35. 

But the Hoosiers won’t have junior quarterback Michael Penix Jr., who is still out with a shoulder injury, to throw for 491 yards again. They’ll be relying instead on junior quarterback Jack Tuttle and an offense ranking 96th in red-zone efficiency and rushing offense. The Hoosiers are also 107th in total offense and scoring.

Allen said the offense also needs to eliminate the turnovers. Indiana has given up 12 turnovers this season and only created eight. A year after leading the nation with 17 interceptions, Indiana only has four through six games.

“(Tuttle) did some good things, but the two picks were costly,” Allen said about the Michigan State game. “One was pressured. One was not. We have to protect the football, even when you're pressured. A sack is not a bad thing. Defense is playing at a high level, so just protect the football.”

Indiana will enter Saturday’s game as 21-point underdogs despite playing in front of a sold-out crowd at home in Memorial Stadium. The game kicks off at 7:30 p.m. and will air on ABC’s Saturday Night Football.

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