Raise your hand if you had Indiana at Ohio State as the biggest game in the Big Ten regular season before the season started? That's exactly what happens this weekend when the third-ranked Buckeyes and ninth-ranked Hoosiers square off.
Ohio State is a 20.5-point favorite, but the Hoosiers have won three straight games by double figures. The Buckeyes are considered a College Football Playoff lock if they go undefeated, and this could be the best chance at a Big Ten team knocking them off in the regular season.
The Irish Breakdown staff has broken down this game and is set to make its predictions.
BRYAN DRISKELL, PUBLISHER
Prediction: Ohio State 44, Indiana 20
With all due respect to the Hoosiers, this game is not your traditional battle of Top 10 programs. Indiana has been a fun story this year, and I love the job Tom Allen is doing, but Indiana should not be a Top 10 team right now.
The Hoosiers might keep this close for awhile, but ultimately I do not expect it to be an overly competitive game. Indiana's defense has been impressive this season, but the offenses they have faced have been average at best. That will not be the case on Saturday, and I expect the Buckeyes and quarterback Justin Fields to attack down the field and throttle the Indiana defense.
Quarterback Michael Penix and the Hoosier offense has been solid this weekend, but I don't expect that to continue against the Buckeyes. Ohio State's defense hasn't been great this season, but the Buckeyes usually play their best in the biggest games.
I do not expect Penix and the offense to have the same level of passing success that Sean Clifford (Penn State) had.
VINCE DEDARIO, FOOTBALL ANALYST
Prediction: Ohio State 35, Indiana 21
Regardless of what anyone has to say about 2020 and the fall of programs like Penn State and Michigan, what Indiana is doing is very impressive. Rising to the #9 spot in college football is a feat that no one in Bloomington will soon forget.
Unfortunately for the Hoosiers, that dream will take a sharp left turn this weekend. As well as IU has played, OSU has played that much better, and most of it is because of the play of quarterback Justin Fields, the kid is on fire. Granted it has only been three games, but it has been quite the stretch for the transfer from Georgia.
The game is going to be held inside the Horseshoe as well. Fields will continue to ascend but IU will keep it within the 20.5 point spread. So give me the Hoosiers and the points but Ohio State will make their case as the best Big Ten team.
RYAN PALMERI, IB CONTRIBUTOR
Prediction: Ohio State 35, Indiana 23
Indiana will get to show if they're a legit team this week. What originally looked like great wins has turned into the Big Ten falling apart. Ohio State is looking more like a lock as they move towards another playoff berth. Quarterback Justin Fields should continue his dominance and Indiana will fail to keep up.
BRIAN SMITH, IB CONTRIBUTOR
Prediction: Ohio State 41, Indiana 26
Indiana will hang around and keep it interesting, but Ohio State's superior offensive skill talent will eventually take its toll on a good but not great Indiana team. Buckeye quarterback Justin Fields will go up top for three passing scores, and the OSU running game will provide an efficient and workman-like 140-yards and two scores on the ground.
The Hoosiers offense will exploit Ohio State's deficiencies in the defensive line, as Stevie Scott will run for 90-yards and two scores. The Hoosiers will still not be able to keep up with the track meet that Ohio State's offense will win against almost any college team. Look for the Buckeyes defense to give up a few big plays, but also get after Indiana quarterback Michael Penix Jr.
NATHAN ATKINS, IB CONTRIBUTOR
Prediction: Ohio State 52, Indiana 21
The last time Indiana beat Ohio State? 1988. The Hoosiers have been a great story this year, knocking off Michigan and Penn State, but it seems now that says more about the decline of the Wolverines and Nittany Lions this year than anything else (1-7 combined).
At the end of the day, it's not the X's and O's, but the Jimmys and the Joes. The Buckeyes will remind the excited Indiana fans why they were in the College Football Playoff last year.
J.P. SCOTT, IB CONTRIBUTOR
Prediction: Ohio State 37, Indiana 24
The Hoosiers are the real deal; they’ve got explosive playmakers on offense and an aggressive defense. For that reason, look for this to be a one score game at halftime. In the second half, however, expect to see the depth of the Buckeyes take over in a true demonstration of an elite college football team against a pretty good one.
Be sure to visit to BuckeyesNow, the Ohio State site with Sports Illustrated.
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