Ray Stein’s observations about Saturday's game:
The game at hand
• Short-attention-span synopsis: Heisman chatter for Haskins. Q: Does Indiana have what it takes? A: Stranger Things. Horseshoe or Sleepy Hollow? Defense needs a tune-up.
• Pregame buzz: Coming off a mammoth comeback win at Penn State, Ohio State was intent on avoiding extinction in the national championship chase against an Indiana team that has exactly two wins over OSU since Woody Hayes took over as coach. But the Hoosiers are savvy if not deeply talented, and they made for a miserable Ohio Stadium experience for a while.
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• The $90 question: The weird thing about Ohio State fans is that they hate paying outlandish prices to see their favorite team play too-close games. Granted, the latest episode of Horseshoe heartburn was a product of substandard play by the home team. If the Buckeyes had dropped the expected hammer from the start, there would have been no issues — watch some football, cheer the band, let the imagination roam about how the defense would make Tua Tagovailoa wish he’d never left high school. Anxiety is a lot less fun.
• Spread the wealth? Say what you will about the books in Las Vegas, but they don’t usually miss big, at least not often. So those who took Indiana and the 26 points were sitting smug and pretty when OSU led only 28-20 at halftime. But they were sweating profusely when the Buckeyes, having increased their margin to 49-26, drove to the IU 12 in the final seconds. Victory formation intervened to keep Ohio State from covering.
• This week in vanity plates: WORK 2 DO
• How the team sees it: That wasn’t always a thing of beauty, but then again every play wasn’t a Dwayne Haskins Jr. pass.
• How the pollsters will see it: You’re making believers of us but you wouldn’t stand a chance against Alabama.
• How Buckeye Nation sees it: This defense is terrible! This play-calling is atrocious! Hey, is our coach OK?
• What he said: “I dealt with headaches in the past.”
• What it means: “And I’m dealing with one in the present watching these guys in pass coverage.”
They said it
• Your turn/the channel: What is it about Fox telecasts that the games always feel longer? Such was the case again as a 60-minute football game dragged on for nearly four hours. Complaints were few about the second-unit announcing team of Aaron Goldsmith and Dublin’s own Brady Quinn, though one fashion-conscious viewer noted that the two dudes in the booth looked as if they were models preparing for a photo shoot. Wear it well, boys. Meanwhile, sideline reporter Bruce Feldman apparently let a grounder go through his legs when he said Meyer bumped heads with an OSU staffer.
• Former Buckeye corner (tweets from the alums):
@mattfinkes: When you have a good front 4, it’s ok to play zone. It really is
@Tim_Anderson54: Still giving up big plays......this is NOT how a #Buckeyes defense should be
@Cardale7_: 1 thing I’ve learned about watching OSU football, don’t watch until the 2nd half unless you want to throw your remote at the TV
Numbers for dummies
20: Touchdown passes in four home games for Haskins
2: Ohio State records tied by Haskins — touchdown passes in a game (six) and completions (33)
3: Yards shy Haskins finished of Art Schlichter’s record yardage total of 458
317: Yards gained by Indiana in a 20-point first half
89: Yards for the Hoosiers in a six-point second half
5: Second-half tackles for loss by OSU, after one in the first half
Depending on one’s view, Ohio State gets another crack at a Big Ten opponent that it hasn’t lost to in a long while — or the Buckeyes get another chance to show they know how to sidestep a trap game. Minnesota, which has beaten OSU once since 1981, has cooled considerably since a 3-0 start against nobodies, allowing a combined 90 points in losses to Maryland and Iowa in the past two weeks.
Best responses to The Dispatch crew on Twitter:
@MattTwombly1: Used to be bend but don’t break. Now it’s bend and breakdown.
@R_A_Lash: Our defense is making this Hoosiers offense look like a bunch of Jimmy Chitwoods.
@briancommeans: Not used to watching Big 12 football. This is gonna come back and bite us this season. You have to play defense
@WeintraubLive: Kendall Sheffield defended that play like someone who never played X-Box took him over and hit 3 wrong buttons at the same time.
@RTinDC: Is Bobby Knight somewhere working these zebras?
@realtimadler: This team would lose by a thousand to Alabama.
@Im2tall4u: Did the DB's get left in Happy Valley?
@TheCincyBuckeye: Where do we sign up as references for Schiano for future head coaching jobs?
Dwayne Haskins’ right arm
Corrects a lot of mistakes