For two quarters and some change, Kevin Wilson’s return to Indiana after a messy departure last year wasn’t going as smoothly as Ohio State new offensive coordinator would have wanted. For fans at home and in the stands, the same could be said of the team’s highly anticipated new look on offense, which sputtered early and often.
Then things just started to click for the Buckeyes in the third quarter and the No. 2 team in the country started living up to that preseason ranking, eventually pulling away from the Hoosiers for a comfortable 49-21 victory on Thursday night that opened the season and Big Ten play for both teams.
Quarterback J.T. Barrett wasn’t quite as sharp as some expected the senior to be but he still posted solid numbers (284 yards, three touchdowns passing plus another score on the ground) as he broke in several new receivers for OSU. Perhaps the biggest development for Urban Meyer’s team was the emergence of freshman tailback J.K. Dobbins, who may have Wally Pipped starter Mike Weber (hamstring) with 181 yards rushing and showed off plenty of nifty moves in the open field.
Like their counterparts on the other side of the ball, Ohio State’s defense also need a little time to get warmed up but ended up performing just as expected. The vaunted defensive line helped record five sacks while Jordan Fuller and Denzel Ward both picked off passes.
Though the final score may not have indicated it, the Hoosiers did have their moments in the debut of new head coach Tom Allen and actually led at halftime 14-13. They had numerous opportunities to make things even more interesting in the third quarter but failed to capitalize each time they had a shot at the lead, eventually giving way to a 29 point unanswered run that salted the game away for the visitors. Quarterback Richard Lagow did what he could running the quick tempo offense (40-of-65 — yes 65 attempts — for 410 yards, three scores and two interceptions) and hooked up several times for some highlight reel plays with wideout Simmie Cobbs (149 yards, one score). It wasn’t enough though and the lack of any ground game certainly hampered the offense down the stretch.
If you told somebody who didn’t watch the game that Ohio State won by four touchdowns over Indiana, they probably would think things went as expected in Bloomington before the second string entered the action. That wasn’t exactly the case to start for the Buckeyes but the end result was certainly something fitting for the second-ranked team in the country. It probably won’t be good enough next week as Oklahoma rolls into Columbus but that will be a story for another time.