Ohio State: 6 things Buckeyes fans want to see against Indiana
For the 2nd week in a row, Ohio State is favored by more than 5 touchdowns. But unlike the winter storm game against Northwestern, Ohio State should be able to run its unusual game plan Saturday in the Horseshoe against Indiana. Given how the season is going, and the big test a couple weeks ahead, what would Ohio State fans like to see?
Here are 6 reasonable goals the Buckeyes would like to meet against the Hoosiers.
1) A season-high passing game for CJ Stroud
Last week aside, the Ohio State offense continues to hum along efficiently. But one thing missing has been a particularly big passing day for CJ Stroud. Through 9 games, Stroud hasn’t topped 367 yards in a game in 2022 — and that one was against Toledo in Week 3. Stroud topped that total 6 times in 2021, including 5 games of 400+ yards passing. Given that Indiana is awful against the pass, Stroud could conceivably go for 400 against the Hoosiers.
2) 100 rushing yards for TreVeyon Henderson
Of course, the first issue is assuming that he’s on the field at all, which he wasn’t last week. In Ohio State’s last 3 game, Henderson has a total of 116 yards rushing. When Henderson is at his best, so is OSU. His 2 100-yard games this season — Wisconsin and Michigan State — were about as smooth as any OSU has played. While Miyan Williams is perfectly serviceable as a second back, Henderson has the extra gear the Buckeyes may need against Michigan. It’d be a big deal to get him back on track.
3) A healthy Jaxon Smith-Njigba
Even bigger would be the return of Jaxon Smith-Njigba, who has played a few tentative games this season but hasn’t appeared to be himself on the season. Smith-Njigba has sat out 6 games, and caught 5 passes for 43 yards for the year. It’s unrealistic to expect to just throw him on the field against Michigan and have him at 100%. A good game against IU could be as simple as equaling his prior season totals. But if Ohio State is going to have him back to full go ahead of the postseason, it’s time to start revving it up.
4) A tackle for loss for Mike Hall
Early in the season, Mike Hall was emerging as a significant defensive lineman for the Buckeyes. He missed a game against Toledo and hasn’t really recaptured that momentum. Hall had 5 tackles for loss in the season’s first 2 games. But since, he has just 2.5, and those were in the Michigan State game. In the last 3 games, Hall has 4 total tackles and none for losses. While JT Tuimoloau has come on as a standout up front, getting Hall productive again could be significant.
5) A DB interception or 2
Ohio State’s secondary has been kind of patchwork all season, but they’ve generally fared well. That said, of Ohio State’s 10 interceptions on the season, only 5 have come from defensive backs — 3 for Tanner McCalister and 1 each for Ronnie Hickman and Lathan Ransom. Denzel Burke and Jyaire Brown have broken up a combined 7 passes, but neither has a pick. While OSU is stingy about giving away turnovers, the defense could be a little sharper in claiming them.
6) A special teams score
Ohio State continues to have trouble springing any big plays in the kicking game. So far this year, OSU’s long kick return is 26 yards and the long punt return is 18 yards. Now, Ohio State won’t need a special teams score against Indiana. But it could use developing a little more explosiveness in the return game … and giving Michigan something else on tape to worry about.