Ohio State has looked good, but Ryan Day says it's now time to avoid complacency

Bill Rabinowitz
Behind quarterback Justin Fields (1), Ohio State made it look easy last week against Cincinnati. But coaches are warning the Buckeyes to stay focused. [Kyle Robertson/Dispatch]

Coming off a dominating victory over Cincinnati, the Ohio State football team opens Big Ten play this week against an Indiana team that has proven to be pesky in recent years.

“We know going on the road, first conference game, it’s going to be a tough game,” Buckeyes coach Ryan Day said Tuesday in his weekly news conference.

Indiana has played Ohio State close most of the time in recent years, yet the Hoosiers haven’t beaten the Buckeyes since 1988. OSU has won the past 24 meetings and leads the series 74-12-5.

No. 6 Ohio State (2-0) is coming off a 42-0 victory over Cincinnati. It was an impressive performance over a team that was expected to provide a stiffer challenge.

Running backs coach Tony Alford didn’t deny that the Buckeyes played well, but said it’s no reason for complacency.

“It wasn’t flawless,” Alford said. “Far from flawless. We’re not where we need to be. If you want to be the best in the country, you don’t rest on your laurels.

“We’re going to play a team that has played us extremely well in recent years.”

Indiana (2-0) has beaten Ball State 34-24 and Eastern Illinois 52-0. Redshirt freshman quarterback Michael Penix Jr. has been impressive so far, albeit against inferior competition.

“He’s very talented,” Day said. “We recruited him. He’s very mobile and was productive coming out of high school. I’m not surprised he’s playing right away. In my conversations with him, (he showed) a good football IQ.”

Ohio State’s quarterback, Justin Fields, has also had an impressive start to his career, of course.

“He should have confidence,” Day said. “He’s played well the first two games.”

So has Ohio State’s defense, which has backed up its vow to bounce back from last year’s problems. Day said the defense was “scarred” from 2018 and worked hard to show they would be different this year.

“Boy, I love being around guys like that,” Day said.