The 2023-2024 college football season is finally set to kick off (who actually counts week 0 anyway?). With it comes the hopes and aspirations of over 100 programs. Dreams of chasing destiny, upsetting rivals, winning conferences, and ultimately being one of the last four teams standing during the College Football Playoff.
No team has loftier goals and fan expectations than that of Ohio State. Every year, the goals remain implicitly the same: Beat Michigan, win the division, conference championship, and national title. Coming within seconds of facing off against TCU in last year's final game, Ohio State looks to shake the disappointment of a missed (potentially) game-winning field goal and some horrendous defensive miscues to bounce back and finally silence the doubters.
The Buckeyes are back in action this week as they are set to face off against in-conference Indiana. Ryan Day will lead the charge for Ohio State with a revamped offensive strategy and relying on Jim Knowles’ experience on the defensive side of the ball. The “chase” begins again.
Date: Saturday, 9/2/23
Time: 3:30 PM Eastern
Venue: Memorial Stadium, Bloomington, Indiana (Capacity: 52, 929)
Series: Ohio State leads 78-12-5
Last Game: Ohio State over Indiana 56-14 (2022)
What to Watch For:
It’s no secret that the Buckeyes had a heated battle for the leader of their offense. While many scenarios (including a dreaded two QB system) were speculated, Kyle McCord was eventually announced as the starter. His talent and leadership should be enough to help the Buckeye offense stay in every single game. Given the circumstances, I wouldn’t be surprised if newly minted backup Devin Brown saw considerable playing time this Saturday.
Indiana also faces a quarterback battle where their top prospects have moved on via the transfer portal. Jake Tuttle has moved on to Michigan (as a backup), while Bazelak transferred to Bowling Green. Now the race for the Hoosiers is down to Sorsby and Jackson, both of whom have yet to see any real game action. Coach Tom Allen and the rest of the Hoosiers will have their hands full trying to compete with Ohio State.
Tom Allen’s Hoosiers will spend most of Saturday’s game playing catch-up unless they can surprise the Buckeyes’ defense. Typically, Indiana runs some form of spread offense but often relies on gadget plays or distractions to gain an advantage over their opponents. Now, with fresh quarterbacks in the fold, it will be imperative for Indiana to use whatever tricks they have up their sleeves to pull out an upset over the heavily favored Ohio State.
Ohio State Defense:
No other defensive unit in the nation has more to prove than the Buckeyes. Jim Knowles came into last season with great fanfare and even greater expectations. Now, after two consecutive losses where the defense struggled at times (albeit against incredibly talented offenses), the Silver Bullets will have to dominate every single opponent to regain credibility. Although Knowles’ use of a hybrid safety concept is considered too complicated by some, overall, the defense has been simplified in order to let the players fly to the ball and cause havoc. The front seven should cause enough pressure to stop the running game and allow the defensive backs and linebackers the freedom to move sideline to sideline, eliminating any potential Indiana speed.
The Buckeyes are on a quest for redemption and retribution. I really don’t see any way Indiana stands a chance against Ohio State. The starters are more talented, and the reserves are far deeper for the Buckeyes. Indiana will have problems trying to contain all the firepower while also struggling to move the ball. Yes, the Scarlet and Gray will struggle to get things started, but once the rust comes off, be ready for an absolute drubbing. As heavy favorites, expect the score to look similar to last year: 49-10 in favor of The Ohio State.
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