IU looks to upset No. 8 Buckeyes
It is a tale of two journeys for Ohio State’s and Indiana’s football teams.
While the Buckeyes are riding high after a 63-38 victory against Nebraska last weekend which extended their undefeated season, the Hoosiers are trying to recover following their third straight loss, a 31-27 defeat against Michigan State.
After blowing a 27-14 lead against the Spartans last weekend, the Hoosiers (2-3, 0-2) will face an undefeated Ohio State team (6-0, 2-0) Saturday night at Memorial Stadium.
“We’re learning how to play Big Ten football and learning how to play our best,” IU Coach Kevin Wilson said. “Michigan State was the first time in my time here there was a good team that we went after, played good football and had a shot. We didn’t get it done, but let’s learn, let’s grow and let’s keep progressing against Ohio State.”
The Hoosiers will face their biggest threat yet this week against the Buckeyes.
Under the direction of new coach Urban Meyer, OSU, which went 6-7 in 2011, has started this season with as many wins as it had all of last year.
With sophomore quarterback Braxton Miller, who is ranked 11th in the country in rushing yards per game and 87th in passing yards per game at the helm, Ohio State has evolved into the second-best scoring offense in the Big Ten.
Come Saturday, IU will have the task of stopping OSU’s attack, which has averaged 38.5 points per game this season.
“(Miller) took the majority of snaps under center last year, and that element wasn’t there,” IU co-defensive coordinator Mike Ekeler said. “It’s completely different this year. They’re spreading you out and making plays in space with one of the most electrifying players in college football.”
The Hoosiers, meanwhile, will look to come up with some offensive momentum of their own.
After scoring 27 points in the first half against Michigan State, IU produced 47 total yards of offense in the second 30 minutes of the game in a zero-point effort.
In fact, during the last four halves of play, the Hoosiers have been shut out in two of them. When they did score, they produced a combined 56 points in those halves.
Against Ohio State, IU will look to regain its composure in its up-tempo offense.
“It’s disheartening, but you can’t dwell on the negatives for too long,” junior running back Stephen Houston said. “You have to take the positives out, build on those and correct the negatives. We’re still practicing harder, faster, smarter and stronger.”
Houston’s unit rushed for 40 yards against MSU.
A theme the coaches have been talking about this week is putting together an entire-team effort for 60 minutes.
The offense will face the challenge of scoring in both halves for the first time since the Ball State game one month ago.
Meanwhile, the defense will look to produce second-half stops against the likes of Miller and the Buckeyes. The unit was on the field for nearly 22 minutes during the second half against Michigan State.
On Saturday, the Hoosiers will try to reverse the path they have traveled down as they attempt to avoid their fourth-straight loss.
“Right now with some negatives, we’ve got to keep fighting the fight to get better,”
Wilson said. “That’s what we’re trying hard as coaches and leaders to do for our team. I truly believe we’re getting better every day, but the scoreboards will change with time.”
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