25 words or fewer: Early showdown in the Big Ten octagon: top-ranked and undefeated Ohio State at unranked yet undefeated Indiana. Two will enter, only one will emerge.
25 words or fewer
Early showdown in the Big Ten octagon: top-ranked and undefeated Ohio State at unranked yet undefeated Indiana. Two will enter, only one will emerge.
>> Get the most out of college football season, follow @BuckeyeXtra on TwitterIn the polls
While many of the national pundits are questioning the Buckeyes' No.1 credentials, the two major polls tell a different story. In the Associated Press media poll, OSU is No.1 with 45 first-place votes, followed again by Michigan State (five), Mississippi (10), Texas Christian and Baylor. In the coaches' poll, the top five are OSU (61), Michigan State (two), Texas Christian, Baylor and Mississippi (one).
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The defensive scoring machine. It has produced a touchdown in six of the past eight games. Defensive tackle Adolphus Washington made it three straight for the D this season with his screen-pass interception and score against Western Michigan. The defense had one major gaffe in giving up a 55-yard TD pass, and was run on in spurts, but the bottom line is that OSU stands 10th nationally in scoring defense (12.3-point average).
>> Got a question about Ohio State football? Ask the experts!What's not hot?
The deep passing game, but it's warming up. On the way to a career-high 288 yards passing, Cardale Jones missed on three deep flings because he pulled the string, and one of those was intercepted. But he also hit Jalin Marshall on post-cut for a TD that was right in stride. Understand, there aren't many quarterbacks nationwide who have to finesse a 55- or 60-yard throw, but Jones does. As offensive coordinator Ed Warinner said, if you're not right on the money, you want to be long because anything else is throwing it up for grabs.What went right?
Running back Ezekiel Elliott and the offensive line showed signs of getting on the big-play track. He earned his ninth straight 100-yard game (124) and scored a TD. Elliott also showed off hurdling moves reminiscent of his high-school state champion track days in St. Louis. His longest run against Western Michigan, however, was only 26 yards. Four games into last year he had 323 yards (55 carries), and he wound up with 1,878. So far this season, he has 455 yards on 77 carries.Best-laid plans
Braxton Miller out of the wildcat formation has looked more like a tiger in a cage the past three weeks. Hawaii, Northern Illinois and Western Michigan attacked upfield as soon as Miller took the direct snap, and all three bottled him. At this stage, his shift to hybrid back still seems more like an experiment than a solution, especially with his propensity on runs to try to make moves rather than simply plant a foot and go.Dinged up
No significant injuries were reported, not even for linebacker Darron Lee, who left on a cart midway through the first half but returned and finished the game.Up next
Indiana, which is off to its first 4-0 start since 1990. Not that the Hoosiers have mowed down giants, with wins over Southern Illinois, Florida International, Western Kentucky and Wake Forest. But with quarterback Nate Sudfeld at the helm, they've found ways to get it done.This week's challenge
The Ohio State offense was rolling before running into Indiana in the next-to-last game of the 2014 regular season. It took the four-touchdown heroics from Marshall (one on a punt return) to help the Buckeyes win 42-27 after they found themselves trailing 20-14 midway through the third quarter. The burden these Buckeyes bear is one of great expectations because despite gaining more than 500 yards and winning handily against Western Michigan, questions remain. When a team is the defending national champion and still the stout No.1, at least as many folks are watching for the slip as they are enjoying the trip.