The Buckeyes (4-0) lead the Hoosiers (4-1) by a half game with three to play. In their final three games, the Buckeyes play three teams — Illinois, Michigan State and Michigan — that had combined for four victories as of Saturday afternoon, so they will be heavy favorites to advance to the Big Ten Championship game after beating the Hoosiers.
This was Indiana’s big chance, and while it didn’t get the victory it needed to take control of the East Division, it did prove it belongs in the top 10.
In the locker room after the game, Indiana coach Tom Allen told his players he was proud of their heart and toughness and the fight they showed.
“They didn’t quit,” Allen said. “You got a chance to see that they are truly special. We’ve just got to play better. That’s a really good football team we played. They have a substantially-elevated level of play compared to the other teams we’ve played so far.”
Tough call: Ohio State faced a 4th-and-1 situation at the Indiana 7-yard line with 4:39 to play. A touchdown in that situation would have almost clinched the victory, while a field goal would have given the Buckeyes a 10-point lead.
Coach Ryan Day elected to go for the first down, but Justin Fields threw an incomplete pass after scrambling. Indiana took over with a chance to drive for the tying touchdown only to have Ohio State’s defense force a quick three-and-out.
“You always want to be aggressive and not second guess yourself when it doesn’t work,” Day said. “We’ve gone for it there before. We want to continue to do that. They were moving the ball pretty good. I was worried a field goal may not do it. I liked the call. We have to execute it better.”
Looking ahead: The Buckeyes play at Illinois (2-3) next Saturday. The game time has not been announced. The Illini won 41-23 at Nebraska (1-3) on Saturday.
Ohio State has won eight straight games in the series. The teams last met in 2017 with Ohio State winning 52-14.