When: Saturday, September 14th, 2019
Where: Memorial Stadium, Bloomington, Indiana
How to watch: FOX
Coming off a 52-0 drubbing of FCS opponent Eastern Illinois, confidence currently runs high amongst the Hoosiers. Yet that confidence will be tested come Saturday when the Big Ten favorites, the Ohio State Buckeyes, make the trip down to Bloomington for each team’s Big Ten opener.
The Buckeyes represent what will likely be the toughest opponent the Hoosiers will face all season long, with Indiana’s last win in the series coming during the 1988 season. Despite their lack of success against the Buckeyes, the Hoosiers remain confident in their own abilities heading into week three.
“We came (to Indiana) to beat teams like Ohio State. … We didn’t come here to play them, we came here to beat them.” Said Junior wide receiver Whop Philyor.
Defeating the Buckeyes has traditionally been a near-impossible task for Indiana, and things might just get a little tougher for the Hoosiers with freshmen quarterback Michael Penix Jr. being listed as a game-time decision with an undisclosed injury. Penix was responsible for 523 yards and 3 touchdowns through the air in two games, including Big Ten Freshmen of the Week honors following their season-opening victory against Ball State. If Penix can’t go, the Hoosiers will be forced to turn to 2018 starter Peyton Ramsey.
As for the Buckeyes, they are coming off a dominant 42-0 victory over the Cincinnati Bearcats, and Ohio State will look to continue to build upon their successful start to the 2019 season.
New quarterback Justin Fields has been one of the biggest factors in the Buckeye’s early-season success, racking up 561 total yards along with 9 touchdowns to 0 turnovers through his first two games as a Buckeye. Fields possess a special combination of arm talent and athleticism that allows him to beat opposing defenses through the air or with his legs.
Junior running back J.K. Dobbins will need to be another vocal point for the Indiana defense, as Dobbins has been one of the most consistent running backs in the Big Ten. Dobbins has surpassed 1,000 yards rushing in each of his two years at Ohio State, and currently sits at 232 yards on just 38 carries this season.
As impressive as the Ohio State offense has been thus far this season, the Buckeye defense has been a force in its own right, and the Hoosiers offensive line will have their hands full trying to contain a dynamic Ohio State front seven. Defensive end Chase Young has proven to be a game-changer coming off the edge, recording three sacks this season.
Tom Allen has been searching for a program changing victory throughout his tenure at Indiana, and a home match-up with the Buckeyes provides an intriguing opportunity for Indiana to cement themselves as a program on the rise. The Hoosiers have come close to pulling off the upset in recent years, whether this is the year they finally get over the hump will need to be decided come Saturday afternoon.