Why Ohio State’s Ryan Day views this road opener differently than the last one

Buckeyes open season Saturday at Indiana

Ohio State will open its 134th season of college football Saturday at Indiana.

The Buckeyes are expected to contend for Big Ten and national championships again while the Hoosiers are not.

Beyond those expectations, there is much to be worked out over the next three-plus months.

Here are five things to know about the game:

1. Indiana is somewhat of a mystery.

The Hoosiers have not won a Big Ten championship since 1967.

To end that streak, head coach Tom Allen will have to pull together a roster with 36 scholarship newcomers, including 24 transfers.

“They have a very different team than he did last year, and they’ve added a lot of new pieces,” Day said. “A lot of talent coming in and really a change-up on the staff. And we’ve been in dogfights with them early in the season before and they’re very well-coached. So we have to do a great job of adjusting to some of the changes that they’ve made on both sides of the ball, but ultimately it’s going to come down to fundamentals. Take care of the football, tackling really well, hand placement and all the things that come into play in the first game.”

2. Ohio State is less a mystery than the last time it was in this situation.

For the second time in three years, the Buckeyes are set to open the season with a conference road game.

Even though he will breaking in a new starting quarterback again as he was at Minnesota in 2021, Day said he feels much more comfortable because the roster overall is much more experienced.

“There was a ton of unknowns on defense and you had a brand-new quarterback,” Day said. “Talking about butterflies, a whole bunch of butterflies on that one. This one here, we’re a little bit more veteran surrounding the quarterback, so you go off what you see in practice. And if the guys perform like they do in practice and take care of the football, then it’s gonna be a good day. If they don’t, then it’s not gonna be. That’s just the bottom line.”

3. Neither team has a returning starter at quarterback.

While Day said Kyle McCord will start at Devin Brown will play at quarterback for the Buckeyes, Allen has not revealed what he will do with redshirt freshmen Brendan Sorsby and Taven Jackson.

“I just want them to be confident and play with decisive decision-making,” Allen said of his quarterbacks.

“You try schematically to help in that regard. You want to make sure you set them up to have the best success possible, but they’ve still got to get in the fire and play against a really, really talented defense that’s big and fast and physical and has really, really good coaches, and they’re going to be very well coached.”

4. Aside from quarterback, the biggest unknowns for Ohio State are offensive line and safety.

The new starting offensive front — Josh Simmons and Josh Fryar at the tackles, Donovan Jackson and Matt Jones at the guards and Carson Hinzman at center — has been named, but one starting spot in the secondary remained open as that week began.

While Day said he feels more comfortable about the offensive line than he did prior to the start of the preseason, defensive coordinator Jim Knowles confirmed he wishes someone would have asserted himself as the “Adjuster” or middle safety.

The starter figures to be senior Josh Proctor, transfer Ja’Had Carter or true freshman Malik Hartford, a Lakota West grad who has impressed coaches and teammates alike since enrolling in January.

5. Indiana has an assistant with some inside knowledge of the Buckeyes.

Matt Guerrieri was a senior advisor/analyst for Ohio State last season, but prior to that he worked at Duke for 10 seasons. That included six with Knowles.

“Thanks for reminding me,” Knowles said when asked about his familiarity with the Buckeyes on both sides of the ball. “Yeah, he does. He knows what we do really well. He will definitely be able to give their offense some insight into what we do.”

Guerrieri seemed to downplay that when he spoke to reporters in Bloomington.

“So while there is some familiarity from what the people look like and how they function from that standpoint, you just gotta go stop them,” he said. “And that’s the biggest thing is, ‘Okay, what are the fundamentals of defense?’ Regardless of who we’re playing against in opening games, how we tackle, how we vise the ball in space — those are really the biggest things as far as execution on our part compared to saying, ‘Hey, I know exactly what’s gonna happen.’

“They’re gonna have things that he’s never shown before, different than when I was there, things like that, so it’s about us.”


Ohio State at Indiana, 3:30 p.m., Bally Sports Ohio, 700, 1410

About the Author