Ohio State football: 5 things to know about the Indiana game, series

One week after facing one of the worst teams in the Big Ten, Ohio State is set to face another.

Indiana has lost six in a row after starting 3-0, and coach Tom Allen’s team does not seem to have much it can hang its hat on at this point in the season.

“To me it’s very, very frustrating to have guys in those spots and not be able to come up with a play that can change the game because it really does,” Allen said after a 45-14 loss to Penn State on Saturday. “In those early parts of the game it’s a critical part where you’ve got to make those key third down stops and you’ve got to be able to get those, whether it’s take-away or whatever it happens to be. Just really, really frustrating.”

Here are five things to know about the Hoosiers:

1. They are coming off their least competitive game of the season.

Indiana looked poised for a bounce-back season when it stopped Illinois 23-20 in the season opener then beat Idaho and Western Kentucky.

A 45-24 loss at Cincinnati started a six-game skid that includes two one-score losses and a 31-10 loss to Michigan that was competitive for three quarters, but last week Penn State had its way with the Hoosiers in Bloomington.

The Nittany Lions outgained the Hoosiers 483-196, forced three turnovers and had six sacks.

2. Indiana has some uncertainty at quarterback.

Connor Bazelak, an Alter High School grad who transferred from Missouri last summer, started the first eight games for the Hoosiers, but he sat out last week with an undisclosed injury.

His replacement, Jack Tuttle, was injured during the game and Dexter Williams II and Brendan Sorsby both struggled in his place.

“Connor is dinged up, so obviously he wasn’t dressed, but felt like Jack is our next guy,” Allen said. “Did some good things. Obviously got injured, so trying to figure out the final diagnosis for him, but we have two young quarterbacks in Dexter and Brendan, so to me those guys are very, very similar.”

The Bloomington Herald-Times reported Bazelak could be healthy enough to play this week, but Tuttle’s injury is expected to be season-ending.

Bazelak is third in the Big Ten in passing yards (2,099) but 14th in passer efficiency and has thrown nine interceptions vs. 12 touchdown passes.

Allen was noncommittal on his starting quarterback last week before Bazelak’s injury was revealed on game day, and he did not say Saturday what his plans would be moving forward.

“I’m excited about these young quarterbacks, but at the same time we have to get better up front so we can highlight those guys and let them do what they do.”

ExploreExpectations for local players in the Big Ten this season

3. The offensive line has struggled.

The Hoosiers are 100th in the nation in scoring and 112th in total offense. They are 55th in passing yards but have the 129th-ranked running game, and Allen attributed much of that to issues up front.

“I feel like it’s really difficult up front not being able to give our backs a chance to get seams to run through and the quarterbacks time to throw,” Allen said. “That to me is really the bottom line. I think we have to really focus on getting ourselves continuing to work to get better there because it’s not good enough, and it’s killing us right now. It’s making it very, very difficult for our offense.”

4. The defense has struggled, too.

Indiana qualified for four bowl games in six years from 2015-20, but the Hoosiers are 5-16 since the start of the 2021 season.

A prolific offense with was part of the program’s improvement early on before the defense took the lead under Allen in more recent seasons.

This year, the Hoosiers are 114th in points allowed and 104th in total yards, including 83rd against the run and 108th in both passing and pass efficiency.

Standout cornerback Tiawan Mullen is second in the Big Ten with five interceptions, but the Hoosiers are 10th in the Big Ten in sacks (1.8 per game) and eighth in tackles for loss (5.6).

5. Ohio State has more wins over Indiana than any other opponent.

The Buckeyes are 77-12-5 in a series that started in 1901.

They have won 27 in a row since losing consecutive games to the Hoosiers in 1987 and ‘88.

Ohio State has 69 wins over Illinois, 65 wins over Northwestern, 62 wins over Wisconsin and 52 wins over Michigan.

SATURDAY’S GAME

Indiana at Ohio State, Noon, Fox, 1410

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