Written By: Ryan Lippert|@Lippert42
As we are now sitting at just four weeks left in the 2020 college football regular season, we have been blessed with some very exciting games so far. This is the point in the season when the College Football Playoff hunt is heating up as teams are starting to separate themselves. Two of these teams are set to square off this weekend. As most of the college football world expected, the Ohio State Buckeyes are once again one of the top teams in the country as they are sitting on an undefeated record and are ranked third in the nation. On the opposite side, we have one of the biggest surprises of the college football season. The Indiana Hoosiers are showing that they are more than just a basketball school as they are also sitting on an undefeated record with some very impressive victories so far. The winner of this game will control their own destiny in both the Big 10 and playoff picture. With that being said, let’s take a deeper look at this week’s College Football Game of the Week between the Ohio State Buckeyes and Indiana Hoosiers.
Fields Looks to Lead Buckeyes Back to Playoff
One thing that hasn’t changed since the playoff system was put into place is that the Ohio State Buckeyes are always in contention. Quarterback Justin Fields has been on a mission so far this season to make sure that continues to be the case. Fields is off to a Heisman caliber season as he has thrown for 908 yards with 11 touchdowns and zero interceptions along with 57 rushing yards and two touchdowns. He has benefited from a pair of very talented receivers in Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave who are both off to impressive seasons so far. They are joined in the passing attack by receivers Jameson Williams and Julian Fleming along with a talented pair of tight ends in Jeremey Ruckert and Luke Farrell.
Fields will be facing a Hoosiers secondary that has given up 209.75 passing yards per game and eight total passing touchdowns but has also stepped up with ten interceptions. Their secondary consists of three juniors in cornerback Reese Taylor, strong safety Devon Matthews, and free safety Jamar Johnson. Sophomore Tiawan Mullen will join Taylor at the other corner. Junior Jaylinn Williams will also be in the rotation at corner as he leads the team with three interceptions.
Along with the passing attack, the Buckeyes also have a very dynamic duo in the backfield. Their two-headed monster at running back consists of Master Teague III and Oklahoma transfer Trey Sermon. Teague leads the pair so far with 47 carries for 211 yards and four touchdowns. Sermon has 36 carriers for 172 yards but has yet to find the end zone.
This rushing attack will be facing a solid Hoosiers front seven that has given up 111 rushing yards per game and only three total rushing touchdowns this season. This group is led by junior linebacker Micah McFadden who leads the team with 30 total tackles and 4.5 tackles for loss. He is joined in the linebacker core by fellow junior Cam Jones along with junior Bryant Fitzgerald playing the “husky” position. In front of them, the defensive line consists of seniors Jerome Johnson at tackle and Michael Ziemba at end. They are joined by sophomore Sio Nofoagatoto’a at the other tackle and junior James Head Jr. at the opposite end.
How Legit is This Hoosiers Offense?
Much of the success of the Indiana Hoosiers this season can be credited to their surprisingly explosive passing attack. It all starts with the outstanding play of their sophomore quarterback Michael Penix Jr. Penix is off to a hot start so far, throwing for 1,070 yards with nine touchdowns and three interceptions. He also has a pair of rushing touchdowns. Much like Fields, he has benefitted from two talented receivers in seniors Whop Philyor and Ty Fryfogle. They both have 24 receptions on the season but Tryfogle leads the team with 424 yards and four touchdowns. Philyor has 287 yards and a touchdown. They will be joined in the passing game by sophomore receiver Miles Marshall and talented junior tight end Peyton Hendershot.
Penix will be facing a Buckeyes secondary that has allowed 224.3 passing yards per game and four total passing touchdowns so far but has only come away with one interception. Their secondary is led by junior cornerback Shaun Wade who is looking to prove that he is one of the top corners in this year’s draft class. He is joined in the secondary by fellow junior Sevyn Banks at the other corner with senior Marcus Williamson at the nickel. Sophomore Marcus Hooker will start at free safety.
While their running game hasn’t been as strong as their passing attack, the Hoosiers do have a solid lead back to take some pressure off Penix. Junior running back Stevie Scott III has taken on the bulk of the workload out of the backfield so far with 88 carriers for 319 yards and five touchdowns. Sophomore Sampson James will also get some occasional carries.
Scott will be facing a solid Ohio State front seven this weekend. This group has allowed 131.7 rushing yards per game and four total rushing touchdowns this season. They are led by senior middle linebacker Tuf Borland who leads the team with 16 total tackles. He is joined in the starting linebacker core by two other talented seniors in Pete Werner and Baron Browning. In front of them, the defensive line is led by senior defensive end Jonathon Cooper who is joined by junior Tyler Friday at the other end with senior Antwuan Jackson at tackle and junior Tommy Togiai at nose. Senior Haskell Garrett will rotate in at tackle while talented sophomore Zach Harrison will be in the rotation at end.
As I already mentioned, this is a very intriguing matchup as both of these teams are very much in the College Football Playoff race. Indiana is off to a surprisingly hot start to their season and has had some very impressive performances so far. However, they have still yet to face a team like the Buckeyes. The Hoosiers will make some plays to stay in the game early but I see their luck running out this weekend. Fields will continue his Heisman campaign and also continue to show the country why he will be taken very early in the 2021 NFL Draft. I also see this Ohio State defense stepping up when it matters and making things difficult on Penix and this offense. I have the Buckeyes pulling away to win this one 34-17.