Rejoice Ohio State football fans! The Buckeyes are back in action after a bye week, and we’ve actually got a prime-time game to look forward to against Indiana this week. The Hoosiers gave OSU all it could handle last season and will probably be looking for a sense of revenge after Ohio State kept IU out of the Big Ten championship game in 2020.
There are always some interesting storylines to watch, and we do our best to peer into the crystal ball to try and make sense of some things that you might see as headlines once all the rubber pellets from the turf have settled after the game.
But we don’t just go boiler-plate, standard on some of these, but instead, look for some things that are a stretch but might still happen. We do it every week and we’re rolling it out again this time.
Here are five bold predictions we think probably won’t, but could happen Saturday night against Indiana.
Ohio State freshman RB TreVeyon Henderson goes for over 200 yards rushing
Oct 9, 2021; Columbus, Ohio, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes running back TreVeyon Henderson (32)celebrates his touchdown run during the second half against the Maryland Terrapins at Ohio Stadium. Credit: Joseph Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports
TreVeyon Henderson has turned into Ohio State’s best big-play threat out of the backfield. However, the game plan doesn’t always result in a ton of touches for him to have a big game, especially with the receiving corps the Buckeyes can roll out onto the field. Because of the defensive scheme Indiana implements, look for Ryan Day and staff to call Henderson’s name more than usual and get him the volume necessary to get over the 200-yard mark.
Quarterback C.J. Stroud will rush for over 50 yards
Ohio State Buckeyes quarterback C.J. Stroud (7) looks the throw the ball against Maryland Terrapins during the second quarter of their NCAA college football game at Ohio Stadium in Columbus, Ohio on October 9, 2021. Credit: USA TODAY Sports
C.J. Stroud hasn’t been asked to run the ball that much this year because he doesn’t need to. However, things might break down with a little more pressure packages this week and the freshman might need to improvise a little more. We’ve seen that he has the skill set to get things done with his legs, and we might see a little more of that this week. Look for some more designed runs and some opportunistic ones that will get him over 50 yards on the ground.
The Ohio State defense will force at least three turnovers
Ohio State Buckeyes safety Ronnie Hickman (14) returns the ball for an interception touchdown during the game against the Akron Zips at Ohio Stadium in Columbus, Ohio Sept. 25. Credit: USA TODAY Sports
The Ohio State defense we’re watching now is a far cry from the one that was a significant work in progress the first few weeks of the season. The unit has been more aggressive, more engaged, and less mistake-prone as the parts and pieces have all been plugged in different places. A byproduct of that is that we’ve seen the defense force more turnovers lately too. In fact, that side of the ball has scored touchdowns in four straight games. We’re not calling for that against Indiana again, but we do see the OSU defense forcing at least three turnovers against a backup quarterback that’s still setting into what he can do for the Hoosier offense.
Jaxon Smith-Njigba will score catch two touchdowns
Ohio State Buckeyes wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba (11) during an NCAA football game on Thursday, Sept. 2, 2021, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Adam Bettcher)
He’s technically the third option at receiver among the wideouts in Ohio State’s offense, but he’s likely the top guy almost anywhere else in the country. Slot-receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba has a shot at being a big part of the game plan Saturday. With the blitz packages Indiana likes to come with, look for quick, short passes in space to counteract the rush up the field. And with Indiana more than likely looking to take away Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson, Smith-Njgiba is going to be matched up against a third corner or coming across the field on a linebacker or safety. He’s going to win that matchup more often than not.
The Ohio State defense will hold Indiana to under 300 yards of offense
Ohio State Buckeyes linebacker Teradja Mitchell (3) and Ohio State Buckeyes defensive end Zach Harrison (9) combine for a tackle on Rutgers Scarlet Knights wide receiver Aron Cruickshank (2) during the first quarter of an NCAA Division I football game between the Rutgers Scarlet Knights and the Ohio State Buckeyes on Saturday, Oct. 2, 2021, at SHI Stadium in Piscataway, New Jersey. Credit: USA TODAY Sports
Indiana is challenged on the offensive end with the injury to Michael Penix, Jr. The passing game won’t be totally abandoned, but you can bet the OSU defensive coaching staff is going to make likely starter Jack Tuttle beat the Buckeyes through the air. Even more than usual, look for Ohio State’s defense to play downhill and look to stop the run. The passing game just won’t be there and OSU will throttle the Indiana defense for most of the game, limiting it to under 300 yards for the game.