October 12, 2012

What to watch for: Ohio State vs. Indiana

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Follow Noon | Givler | Axelrod | Birmingham

COLUMBUS, Ohio - With its undefeated record intact, the 6-0 Ohio State football will head west tomorrow for an 8 p.m. kickoff with 2-3 Indiana. As we do each week, here's a look at the top storylines facing the Buckeyes heading into this weekend's showdown with the Hoosiers.

Caught overlooking

With arguably their two toughest opponents of the season in Michigan State and Nebraska now in their rearview mirror, it'd be tough to blame the Buckeyes for looking an Indiana squad that is coming fresh off of a 1-11 season. OSU coach Urban Meyer admitted on multiple occasions this week that he is as worried about as much, stating that he is actually glad that Saturday's game will be played at night because he thinks that it will add to the atmosphere inside of Memorial Stadium.

Despite their undefeated record, the Buckeyes have been known to overlook and play down to the competition of their opponents all season, so Saturday's matchup should provide some insight into where OSU's focus is at following its two biggest wins of the season.

Hyde your kids, Hyde your wife

In last week's 63-38 win over Nebraska, OSU running back Carlos Hyde played the most impressive game of his college career, racking up 140 yards and four touchdowns against the Huskers' defense.

With Indiana entering Saturday's game with the Big Ten's second to worst rushing defense, and the Buckeyes having a newfound confidence in the play of their offensive line, look for Hyde to have the opportunity to put together his second consecutive big game in what could be an All-Conference type of season for the OSU running back.

Padding the stats

On at least three separate occasions this season, Meyer has been asked about a potential Heisman Trophy campaign for his quarterback, Braxton Miller. All three times, Meyer has declined to officially endorse his quarterback, but having coached a trio of Heisman Trophy contenders (and one winner) in Tim Tebow, Alex Smith, and Josh Harris, the two-time national champion head coach knows when he has someone special behind the center, and he thinks he has that in Miller.

With the Spartans and Huskers behind him and a two week stretch against Wisconsin and Michigan more than a month away, these next four games should provide Miller with the opportunity to pad his stats against some weaker competition, and that will start on Saturday night against the Hoosiers.

Stopping the screen

It's no secret that the Buckeyes have had trouble defending short passes and quick playmakers throughout the season. Despite a talented secondary, the Buckeyes have given up the second most passing yards in the Big Ten.

A big reason for that has to do with the inefficiencies of the OSU linebacking corps, which Meyer has deemed not OSU-worthy. The Buckeyes will be without senior linebacker Etienne Sabino, which could be a problem as Meyer counted more than half of the Hoosiers' passing attempts as the same kind that have hurt the Buckeyes all season.

Taking care of business

For the first time all season, the Buckeyes are a top-10 nationally ranked team. And despite their sometime enigmatic efforts, it's hard to argue that's not what they deserve to be perceived as such.

But if the Buckeyes truly are a great team, and if they have any real shot at an Associated Press national championship at the end of the season, then they'll take of what they need to on Saturday, and they'll do it handily. No hiccups, no miscues. Just go into Bloomington and come out with a solid victory. If they can do that, then we'll know more of these Buckeyes than we did a week ago.


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