Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Fool a team 25 times in a row, however, and that is no statistical aberration. Ohio State doesn’t always exploit its talent advantage against Indiana, which kept open the possibility of a struggle in OSU’s Big Ten opener. But Saturday was not a day for fooling around for the Buckeyes. Leaves are awarded on a zero-to-five basis. — Ray Stein

 

Offense (4)

On a day when the Buckeyes’ starting pitcher prompted some Bob Uecker imitations — “juuuust a bit outside” — the OSU earth-movers up front made mincemeat of the overmatched Hoosiers. The glimpse of open space allowed J.K. Dobbins (and Master Teague) to get through the first crack, and then there were more.

Defense (4)

OSU was burned by one trick play, resulting in a TD pass from a receiver to a tight end. Beyond that, the Buckeyes couldn’t even smell the candles, let alone get close enough to get singed by the flames. Twelve tackles for loss says a lot. Chase Young’s play says even more. He makes opponents scatter like bugs in a Raid commercial.

Special teams (3)

In another universe, Blake Haubeil’s push of a 32-yard field-goal try on OSU’s first drive might have provided Indiana some needed juice to turn its engine. Not on this day. Shining moment for the specialists arrived early in the second quarter, when Chris Olave’s punt block for a safety removed whatever hope lingered in the air.

Coaching (4)

The resume is now stacked three deep with nine regular-season games to go — how many more overall? 10? 12? — and a pattern is emerging in Ryan Day’s first full year. The Buckeyes are displaying more poise and less stress, and their about-face on defense is a head-spinning development. Tests await, of course. But, man, these guys ball.

Fun (2)

Football actually isn’t that big a deal for our neighbors to the west, whose heroes include one-name icons such as Oscar and Bird — no, not Muppets. Thus explains the expanses of empty space in Memorial Stadium at kickoff, which sort of began to fill until springing a leak for good at halftime. For OSU fans, good seats to be had.

Opponent (2)

Putting aside Ohio State’s multigenerational supremacy in the rivalry, IU almost always puts up a fuss. This time around, Indiana benefited from a robust pregame speech by coach Tom Allen that summoned his team to play like James Douglas. Unfortunately for the Hoosiers, they were the Holyfield version of Buster.

Officiating (3)

Not much to see here, though Allen went nigh apoplectic when he thought the zebras missed an interference call against OSU’s Shaun Wade, who defended a pass with his unturned helmet. Loch Ness Replay made one brief appearance, to overturn an Olave toe-tap reception on the sideline, initially ruled incomplete.

 

rstein@dispatch.com