On Saturday, the Ohio State Buckeyes will get what could be their biggest test of the 2020 regular season. No. 9 Indiana comes to town, and while Ohio State is expected to win big, there is one aspect of the matchup that has ESPN college football analyst Kirk Herbstreit thinking twice about a Buckeyes blowout.
Leading up to this top 10 matchup, Herbstreit doesn’t have any doubt that Ohio State will be able to score on Indiana. What he’s looking for in this game is how the Buckeyes’ defense will play. That side of the ball hasn’t been consistent through the first three games of the season, and Hoosiers quarterback
“What I see is Ohio State’s offense will be tough for Indiana’s defense to slow down,” Herbstreit said on ESPN”s ‘College Football Playoff Top 25’ show. “I think the mystery to this game — and I don’t even think Ryan Day knows this answer — is his defense. There have been times when their defense has looked very dominant. In this game in particular, where they played Penn State, they were flying around and the front seven played well. There are times where they’ve looked vulnerable. They’ve not been dominant at the line of scrimmage, and the secondary has been prone to give up big plays.
“Now, here comes Penix and a really talented group of wide receivers. They can run the ball with Stevie Scott. Ohio State is going to score. They’re going to take care of things on that side. The question I have is whether they’re going to have to outscore Penix and this offense that is more than capable, or does the defense show up and get after it?”
So far, the Buckeyes have surrendered an average of 23 points per game to Nebraska, Penn State, and Rutgers. In Week 1, the Huskers were able to rush for 210 yards. The following week, Ohio State clamped down against the Nittany Lions but still gave up 281 yards through the air. In its most recent game, the Buckeyes allowed 373 yards of total offense to the Scarlet Knights.
During his press conference prior to the Indiana game, Ohio State head coach Ryan Day had nothing but good things to say about Penix. In fact, Day believes that the Hoosiers signal caller has been nearly flawless.
“I think he is really playing mistake free,” Penix said. “He’s making a lot of plays and keeps them on schedule. He’s made some really big time throws to tight spots. He’s fearless. You’ve got to give him a lot of credit. Right now, he’s playing almost perfectly. That’s a big challenge for us. He is a competitive player with some really good weapons around him. I think for the most part they have done a really good job of protecting him and his receivers have made some good plays for him. You add that all up, that’s why you have a team that is 4-0 coming in here.”
Ohio State and Indiana kicks off at 12:00 p.m. ET on Saturday with the game airing on FOX.