As the college football season draws closer to a conclusion, two top 10 teams will square off at the "Horseshoe" in Columbus, Ohio, for a Big Ten battle on Saturday. No. 3 Ohio State (3-0) has national championship expectations once again, while No. 9 Indiana (4-0), one of the biggest surprises in the nation, is aiming to pull off the historic upset.
As you might expect, the Buckeyes have owned the all-time series against the Hoosiers 75-12-5, including wins in their last 24 meetings.
Here is a preview for Saturday's big game between Indiana and Ohio State, complete with a free pick. The Buckeyes are big favorites at -20 for the game.
Many people discounted Indiana before the season started, and even after the Hoosiers pulled off the dramatic upset of Penn State in their first game. But the Hoosiers have continued to win, beating Rutgers, Michigan, and Michigan State by double-digits, the last in shutout fashion.
Their convincing victories have brought them to No. 9 in the nation, their highest ranking in the AP Top 25 since 1967, but they face a daunting test in Ohio State.
The Hoosiers are averaging just under 34 points per game through four games and just under 363 yards of total offense. A big reason is quarterback Michael Penix Jr., who, after a 320-yard performance against Michigan State last week, leads the Big Ten with 1,070 passing yards.
Wide receiver Ty Fryfogle has also been excellent for Indiana, earning 24 catches for a conference-leading 424 yards to go along with four touchdowns. Their ground game has also gotten a big boost from three-year starting running back Stevie Scott III, who has five touchdowns and 319 rushing yards.
Indiana's defense has been getting better and better and comes off of a dominant shutout performance. Through four games, Indiana is averaging 19.3 points allowed and a hair under 321 yards allowed.
The Hoosiers' pass defense has been particularly good, giving up under 210 yards a game through the air.
Ohio State Outlook
Another year, another dominant team in Columbus. Through three games this season, Ohio State has managed to look like a dominant force once again. It began with a blowout win against Nebraska and then easy wins against Penn State and Rutgers, with the average margin of victory in those three games being a little over 23 points. However, Indiana will be the toughest test yet for head coach Ryan Day and the Buckeyes.
Led by Heisman Trophy candidate Justin Fields, the Buckeyes offense is averaging a whopping 46.3 points per game and over 510 total yards. Not only are they gaining over 300 passing yards per game, but also over 200 rushing yards.
Fields is the main reason, throwing for 11 touchdowns with zero interceptions. In his last game, a dominant win against Rutgers, the junior quarterback threw for 314 yards and five touchdowns while running in for another score.
Others to watch on Ohio State's loaded offense include wide receiver Garrett Wilson, who has 344 receiving yards and two touchdowns, and running back Master Teague III, who has four rushing touchdowns as well.
Ohio State's defensive numbers are solid. They have allowed 23 points per game and 356 total yards. Considering they've been up in every game, the Buckeyes have still only allowed 224 passing yards per game.
However, Rutgers managed to score 24 points in the second half alone against the Buckeyes, so look for the Hoosiers to try to exploit their defense.
Starting with the home team, Ohio State is 2-1 ATS this season and 8-3 ATS as a home favorite under Day. Meanwhile, Indiana is 4-0 ATS this season and 5-0 ATS in each of their last five trips to Columbus.
The Hoosiers are also 7-2 ATS in their last nine games against the Buckeyes.
This shapes up to be a fun game between two quarterbacks playing at a very high level. But there will be other factors that determine how the game goes.
Can Indiana take Ohio State's running game out of the equation? Can the Buckeyes put pressure on Penix Jr. and force him into mistakes? Those are the things that will play a part in who wins the game.
Ultimately, this will be a huge test for Indiana to see how legitimate it is as one of the 10 best teams in the nation. While I believe Ohio State has the overwhelming advantage in talent, I think the Hoosiers can exploit Ohio State's defense and get some points on them.
It will be the Buckeyes who walk away with the victory, but Indiana will manage to cover.
Pick: Indiana +20