25 words or fewer: Redemption tastes best when guzzled - just ask Jalin Marshall. Buckeyes clinched return to Big Ten title game, then took aim at The Game.

25 words or fewer

Redemption tastes best when guzzled - just ask Jalin Marshall. Buckeyes clinched return to Big Ten title game, then took aim at The Game.

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In the polls

The Buckeyes stayed No. 7 in the coaches' apoll and the Associated Press media poll. The coaches raised Alabama to No. 1 over still undefeated but lackluster Florida State, while the media kept FSU No. 1, Alabama No. 2. Of course, these polls are moot. What matters is how the College Football Playoff committee sees it in its weekly rankings on Tuesday night. The Buckeyes were No. 6 last week.

Who's hot?

Marshall. His hiccups against Minnesota aside, he has shown a desire to pluck it and truck it since he first took to the field this year. It finally paid dividends in grand-slam fashion for an Ohio State offense that was floundering against Indiana. His punt return for a touchdown in the third quarter regained the lead, and then he followed with three touchdown catches (yes, the short shovel flips from J.T. Barrett on the two jet sweeps are touchdown receptions) that gave the Buckeyes four straight scores the Hoosiers couldn't match.

What's not hot?

It's true, the nasty things coaches say about turnovers. The eight by the Buckeyes in the past three weeks turned games that should have been runaways into dramas. OSU's offense lost its way in the second quarter against Indiana with three straight turnovers followed by two straight three-and-outs against a not-very-good defense.

What went right?

Barrett and the offense finally regained their rhythm in the second half, when the coaches flipped the page to the Marshall Plan. Urban Meyer always has said his desire is to get great players in space with the ball in their hands and let them do what they do best. Barrett, the distributor, was the great benefactor, ending up with 302 yards passing and four touchdowns, giving him 33 touchdowns passes this season, three more than Troy Smith's school record. With 380 yards of total offense, Barrett also upped his season total to 3,507, a school record, with at least three games left.

Back to the drawing board

Run defense. A couple of missed gaps here, a couple bad angles there, and suddenly what was looking like a decent day against the nation's second-leading rusher, Tevin Coleman, turned into a black mark on OSU's defensive board. Coleman's second-half touchdown runs of 90 and 52 yards boosted him to 228 yards, and the Hoosiers to 281, the second-best total against the Buckeyes this year behind the 370 against Navy in the opener. And depending on how things go between Minnesota at Wisconsin on Saturday, the Buckeyes are either going to face the nation's leading rusher, Melvin Gordon of Wisconsin, or Minnesota's David Cobb again in the Big Ten title game.

Dinged up

No one.

Catch that?

That's what the Buckeyes are doing for Barrett, who remains No. 3 in the nation in passing efficiency behind Oregon's Marcus Mariota and Colorado State's Garrett Grayson. Only Brandon Doughty of Western Kentucky has thrown more touchdown passes (36) than Barrett.

Up next

Michigan. The Game. Fourth-year coach Brady Hoke is considered a fired man walking after his team's slide to 5-6. The Wolverines need to upset the Buckeyes just to become bowl-eligible. Interestingly, Michigan is ninth in the nation in total defense, which flies in the face of the assertion defense wins championships. The Wolverines are 114th (out of 125) in total offense.

This week's challenge

Ohio State already has clinched a spot in the Big Ten title game and continues to dream of a College Football Playoff spot. But a funny thing can happen in a rivalry when things are taken for granted. Just rewind to The Game last year, when Tyvis Powell's interception of a two-point conversion try preserved a 42-41 Ohio State victory. This week, tunnel vision on Michigan should be the Buckeyes' battle cry.

tmay@dispatch.com

@TIM_MAYsports