Urban Meyer may not know the brutal details of all those previous Ohio State-Indiana games.
Really, there’s no need to.
With a first-year coach at Ohio State, a second-year coach at Indiana and new-school approaches in both places, there will be a new evolution to this series tonight.
“Everybody’s trying to get an advantage and this (hurry-up offense) is an advantage if you know what you’re doing,” said Meyer, the Buckeyes coach. “I have a coaching staff, a guy that’s done that a lot. I didn’t have a big background in that hurry-up. We ran the spread, but we were not a hurry-up team, so this hurry-up is kind of new to me.”
The goal, of course, is to run more plays than the other team and score points by the dozens.
But there are risks in going too fast.
If the offense doesn’t pick up first downs, defenses can spend far too much time on the field — as Indiana (2-3, 0-2 Big Ten) has sometimes learned the hard way. Players get weary.
Indiana and Ohio State (6-0, 2-0) seem to have it at least partially figured out how to make it all work.
Both are scoring more than 32 points per game, and while the Buckeyes have the conference’s No. 2 rushing offense (248.7 yards), the Hoosiers have the league’s top passing offense (305.2). The contrasting styles should make for an interesting night.
On paper, there’s little doubt about which team has the edge.
The Buckeyes are the Big Ten’s highest-ranked team, its only unbeaten team and can lean on Heisman Trophy candidate Braxton Miller to bail them out of all kinds of trouble.
Ohio State’s fans have traditionally outnumbered Indiana’s, even in Bloomington’s Memorial Stadium where Saturday’s game will be played, and the tale of the tape explains why. In what has been one of the Midwest’s most lopsided series, the Buckeyes have won 17 straight over the Hoosiers and are 48-2-2 against Indiana since 1952. Ohio State’s average victory margin over that span: 22.7 points.
The Hoosiers, meanwhile, have lost 10 straight conference games and 20 straight league games against teams outside of Indiana, dating to a win over Illinois in the middle of the 2009 season.
Hoosiers coach Kevin Wilson insists his players are making progress and believes last week’s 31-27 loss to Michigan State proves it.
“We’re learning how to attack. We’re learning how to play Big Ten football,” he said. “If you keep doing that, good things are going to happen. That was the first time in my time here where there was a good team that we went after and played good football, had a shot against and didn’t get it done. Let’s learn, let’s grow, but let’s keep coming. It’s not about getting close, it’s not about doing our best and being short.”