"Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goal..." ~ Henry Ford
The 2014 Ohio State Buckeyes, proud owners of a 9-1 record, return home to Ohio Stadium to face a traditional B1G rival with the visiting Indiana Hoosiers. Considering Indiana enters the game with a 3-7 record, is playing a true freshman quarterback, and has not defeated Ohio State since the 1988 season, Ohio State is heavily favored by the Las Vegas oddsmakers (34.5 point spread). By all reasonable expectations, by both Ohio State fans and Indiana fans, Ohio State has a tremendous opportunity to win easily. During the most recent Men of the Scarlet and Gray podcast, even stalwart Indiana fan Kyle Swick acknowledged the challenges that Indiana is facing against a talented Buckeye squad.
Lurking in the background, in the blogosphere, within Internet fan sites, on sports talk radio, are the audible hopes and dreams of a demanding fanbase for Ohio State to win out and emerge as one of the four participants in the inaugural College Football Playoff. Presently, Ohio State is ranked sixth in the latest poll of the College Football Playoff committee.
The obvious question that is on the mind of Ohio State fans before the Buckeyes meet Indiana - how will Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer keep his team focused upon Indiana, and not be concerned about the playoffs?
Below is an example of how focused Coach Meyer is upon the task at hand with Indiana...
Q. A little bit along those lines, you guys are kind of on two
tracks here. You obviously have to win. That's all you can control.
But there is this playoff, you're trying to get into the playoff. At
31‑24 win over Indiana probably won't help you. How do you kind of
balance the idea that you have to obviously take care of business, but
there is this perception game?
URBAN MEYER: That's not
even going to be addressed. We wake up every November or we wake up
every day to compete for championships in November. It's at the
"It's at the doorstep now..." . Coach Meyer knows that all of the talk about the playoffs is just that - talk. The task at hand is to defeat Indiana, and clinch a berth in The B1G Championship Game.
The three areas I will be focusing upon as Ohio State meets Indiana in Ohio Stadium at 12pm on BTN?
1. How Will Ohio State's Defense Play Against Indiana's Tevin Coleman? - As Coleman goes, so goes the Indiana offense. Coleman has rushed for 1678 yards, and is coming off an impressive performance against Rutgers (32 carries for 307 yards). While Ohio State's defense has improved, last week Ohio State surrendered 145 yards and 3 touchdowns on the ground to Minnesota's David Cobb. Look for Ohio State to truly sell out against the run to bottle up Coleman as best as they can.
2. How Will Ohio State's Jalin Marshall Respond After A Challenging Game At Minnesota? - The trials and tribulations of Ohio State sophomore wide receiver Jalin Marshall are well-chronicled, and we discussed them in great detail on the aforementioned MotSaG podcast. I will be keeping an eye on Marshall during the game, most especially on punt return opportunities.
3. Will Coach Meyer Substitute Backups After Ohio State Takes A Commanding Lead? - While I have complete confidence in Ohio State to win this game convincingly, I question whether Coach Meyer will substitute backups into the game. Cardale Jones, Bri'onte Dunn, Warren Ball, etc, should all play at least the fourth quarter, after the game has been decided.
Prediction: Ohio State rolls Indiana 63-17, impressing the College Football Playoff committee. More importantly, Ohio State earns a trip to Indianapolis for The B1G Championship Game.