The Ohio State Buckeyes entered the current season with expectations higher than really any defending national champion in recent memory. The Buckeyes were nearly perfect last year en route to a win in the inaugural college football playoff, and dominated a few really good teams in the process.
This season has been a slightly different story so far with the Buckeyes struggling to put away average teams. Urban Meyer‘s group is 4-0, but it’s certainly been a tough start for a team with playoff aspirations. Ohio State is still the top-ranked team in the country, but Michigan State and Ole Miss have also been receiving first place votes in the AP rankings.
Ohio State struggled early in the opener against Virginia Tech, but pulled away in the second half and looked like every bit of the team we saw in December and January. The transition of Braxton Miller from quarterback to h-back was a great move for him personally, as well as the entire team. That move narrowed the quarterback competition and, while Cardale Jones won the starting job, J.T. Barrett has also seen a lot of action. Neither has been overly impressive, which could be problematic against an Indiana team that knows how to score points.
The Buckeyes dominated Hawaii on paper the following week in a 38-0 win, but didn’t look very impressive in doing so. There were a lot of mistakes and Meyer was swapping out the two quarterbacks entirely too often to be successful. They only managed to beat Northern Illinois by seven and closed out the non-conference slate with a 38-12 win over Western Michigan. Again, aside from Virginia Tech, the lopsided scores are a bit deceiving.
Indiana had a rough campaign last season after starting quarterback Nate Sudfeld went down early in the Big Ten season. Zander Diamont replaced Sudfeld last year, and the Hoosiers won just one game from that point forward. Indiana is back and putting up a lot of offense with Sudfeld once again behind center and have the potential to pull of the upset if the Buckeyes can’t find consistency at quarterback.
Sudfeld has put up Heisman-like numbers so far this season, while the highly talented signal callers in Columbus have been simply average. Either one has the ability to light it up at any moment, which makes the Buckeyes so dangerous, but we’ve yet to see that this season.