Thursday: Ohio State 49, Indiana 21
Next game: Oklahoma
When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday
Where: Ohio Stadium
TV: ABC (Ch. 6)
Radio: WBNS-FM/AM (97.1/1460)
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Indiana to Oklahoma — this season ramps up rapidly for the Buckeyes, who were slow to start but strong to the finish in the opener.
In the polls
Due to the Labor Day holiday, the first regular-season polls from the Associated Press and coaches will be released Tuesday. Alabama should strengthen its grip on No. 1 after thumping No. 3 Florida State. Meanwhile, will voters keep Ohio State at No. 2, putting less importance on the Buckeyes trailing at halftime and more on the fact the 49-21 victory was the most lopsided win for the Buckeyes over the Hoosiers in the Urban Meyer era?
Who is hot?
Freshman running back J.K. Dobbins proved he was ready for major-college football with his 181-yard rushing performance, and made a bid for the starting job. The complication is returning starter Mike Weber — a 1,000-yard rusher last year — was kept out of the game because of a strained hamstring. Meyer sees the two-man stable as a good thing. But who starts? Who will have more carries?
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What went right?
The pass defense, despite a ferocious rush throughout, took it on the chin in the first half as Indiana quarterback Richard Lagow fast-fired pinpoint passes to the edges. The Buckeyes’ new cornerbacks Denzel Ward, Damon Arnette and Kendall Sheffield were in the crosshairs. But two interceptions (Jordan Fuller, Ward), five sacks and many pressures later, the defense had tightened. It can expect a similar approach Saturday night when Baker Mayfield strolls into the street.
Back to the drawing board
The Buckeyes’ deep passing game, which Meyer said showed so much promise in preseason, didn’t deliver an over-the-top hit. A drop by a wide-open Parris Campbell of a perfect pass from J.T. Barrett and an overthrow by Barrett of open tight end Marcus Baugh were the big fails. Despite the long catch-and-run TDs by Campbell and Johnnie Dixon, Meyer still wants to see a home run or two.
It’s obvious under first-year offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson that the tight end is going to be more involved in the passing game. Baugh ran seam, out, post-corner, crossing, skinny post, and in routes. That’s a departure from the past few years.
Under new coach Lincoln Riley, Oklahoma (No. 7 in the AP poll) dominated Texas-El Paso 56-7 as expected. Mayfield hit 19 of 20 passes for 329 yards and three TDs, while speedy backup Kyler Murray was 10 of 11 for another 149 yards and a TD. Tight end Mark Andrews had seven catches for 134 yards and a TD. The Sooners defense gave up just one drive of note.
This week’s challenge
A faster start is preferred. Barrett raised his career total offense yardage to a school-record 9,211 by adding 365 yards (304 passing, 61 rushing) at Indiana. But if he and the passing game had been sharper, Ohio State could have taken control earlier. Regardless, the marquee says that Barrett and Mayfield are expected to go at it in a duel of Heisman Trophy candidates on Saturday night.