No. 3 Ohio State plays host to No. 9 Indiana on Saturday in a showdown of top-10 teams that carries ramifications for the Big Ten East title. Seriously, that’s what’s happening this weekend. It turns out that, for all the expectations and assumptions about the Big Ten in 2020, neither Michigan nor Penn State are the biggest threats to Ohio State’s Big Ten dominance. The Buckeyes have already disposed of the Nittany Lions. The same Penn State team that Indiana upset in the first game of the season and propelled them on an unexpected journey to the top 10 of both major polls.
In a year that has thrown a lot of curveballs our way, Indiana being a top 10 team is undoubtedly one of them.
Indiana has proven that win over Penn State was no fluke as it followed it up with wins over Rutgers, Michigan and Michigan State. Now the Hoosiers are looking to topple yet another Big Ten powerhouse.
Will the 2020 season get even stranger this weekend, or will Ohio State restore some order to the Big Ten landscape?
Ohio State: After Ohio State beat Penn State and Michigan lost to the same Indiana team the Buckeyes play this week, I developed a sense that the biggest threat to Ohio State’s season in 2020 would be the coronavirus. As long as the Buckeyes avoided a breakout within the team, they seemed likely to waltz to a Big Ten title. Well, last week was a reminder of that reality. Ohio State’s game against Maryland was canceled due to COVID issues on the Terps roster, and Ohio State had to sit out a weekend. On the positive side, it gave the Buckeyes an extra week to prepare for an Indiana team that looks to be their toughest test before a possible Big Ten Championship Game. It also serves as a reminder that — along with the other canceled or postponed games these days — nothing is guaranteed to anybody in the 2020 college football season.
Indiana: A few weeks ago, when Indiana beat Michigan, it wasn’t the way it had done so that was remarkable; it was that Indiana had done it at all. It was the first time the Hoosiers had beaten the Wolverines in a football game since 1987. Can lightning strike twice? The last time Indiana beat Ohio State in football was in 1988. It’s been 25 straight for the Buckeyes in this series. While the Hoosiers have proven themselves in big games against Penn State and Michigan, we can’t ignore that both of those teams are currently a combined 1-7. Ohio State will be the toughest test by far.
Date: Saturday, Nov. 21 | Time: Noon ET
Location: Ohio Stadium — Columbus, Ohio
TV: FOX | Live stream: fuboTV (Try for free)
Ohio State vs. Indiana prediction, picks
What sticks out to me about Indiana’s incredible start is that a lot of what’s pushed this team forward in 2020 isn’t sustainable. Through four games, 37.8% of the points Indiana has scored on offense have come off turnovers. That’s the second-highest rate in the country, trailing only Purdue. The national average is roughly 16.8%. The average distance of Indiana’s touchdown drives, thanks to the turnovers it has forced, has been 53.2 yards. The only team in the country with a shorter average is Washington, and Washington has played one game. The Hoosiers have forced 12 turnovers through their first four games and taken advantage of all of them. That’s not likely to happen against an Ohio State team that has done a much better job of taking care of the ball. Indiana’s offense hasn’t shown a knack for putting together 75-yard touchdown drives as it will probably have to do against Ohio State on Saturday. That makes it very difficult for me to trust the Hoosiers to hang with an Ohio State team that beat them 51-10 in Bloomington last season. Pick: Ohio State (-20.5)
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