Ohio State Buckeyes vs. Indiana Hoosiers Preview
Where: Memorial Stadium — Bloomington, IN
When: Thursday, August 31, 2017 – 3:30 PM ET
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Betting on the Ohio State Buckeyes (-20.5)
This will be the Buckeyes’ starting point in their road to redemption, because as you may remember, they were thoroughly embarrassed by eventual national champions Clemson Tigers, 31-0, in last year’s College Football Playoff semifinal.
Head coach Urban Meyer and his staff are again facing the challenge of reloading. The defense, for one, had four key men moving on to the pros – Raekwon McMillan, their leading tackler in 2015 and 2016, and the ultra-talented secondary core of Marshon Lattimore, Malik Hooker, and Gareon Conley, who accounted for 15 of the team’s 21 interceptions last season. Not much concerned should be given, though, since Meyer has proven himself in being able to quickly develop replacements. Also, linebacker Tyquan Lewis, Ohio State’s reigning leader in sacks and tackles for loss, is still there, and he should also be on his way for another strong campaign.
The offense will have a similar problem, as their top three pass-catchers are also gone – stat-stuffing running back Curtis Samuel’s 1,636 all-purpose yards and 15 total touchdowns in the previous year headline that pack, along with Noah Brown and Dontre Wilson. Like the defense, however, hopes are still high. Seniors JT Barrett (24-7 TD-INT ratio and nine rushing TDs in 2016) and Mike Weber (6.0 YPC and nine rushing TDs in 2016) are the two main reasons for that.
Interesting note: OSU’s new offensive coordinator, Kevin Wilson, was Indiana’s coach from 2011-2016. He engineered the Hoosiers’ sudden rise in scoring, and will inherit a group that just put up 39.4 points and 459.2 total yards in a season.
Betting on the Indiana Hoosiers (+20.5)
Changes could occur at various areas, as they are dawning a new era of Indiana Hoosiers football this season. It all starts with the defensive-minded Tom Allen succeeding the aforementioned Kevin Wilson in the head coaching chair. Allen is a neophyte in his new job, but will be coming off a year where he vastly improved one of the worst defenses in the nation – the unit allowed 129.4 less yards per game (from 509.4 to 380.1) when he became the defensive coordinator last season.
The most intriguing group on D will have to be secondary. They were quite consistent in holding their own, and will now enjoy having all starters from the past year. Rashard Fant is the marquee name among all DBs – his 2016 campaign saw him intercept three passes and disrupt 17.
The linebackers and defensive ends will still have Nile Sykes and Nate Hoff, who are both hopeful to showcase more improvement in pass-rushing. Tegray Scales, as always, is taking the leadership role. The senior appeared to be a good fit to Allen’s 4-2-5 defensive scheme, as he tallied team-leading 24 tackles for loss and seven sacks last season, further solidifying his place as one of Big Ten’s best LBs.
As for the offense, it’s pretty much up in the air. Although new coordinator Mike DeBord has stats that establish his style, with Tennessee averaging 36.4 points and 443.7 yards per contest while he was the OC, it’s still unclear if he can mesh well with turnover-prone Richard Lagow (17 INTs last season). Freshman QB Peyton Ramsey’s mobility should be appealing to DeBord, but with the inexperience, the probably cost could be just as dangerous.
The uncertainty continues in the run game, with a committee-type of approach featuring unproven backs Mike Majette and Cole Gest likely happening. It leaves the receiving corps of Nick Westbrook, Donovan Hale, and the returning Simmie Cobs as the only offensive group to give some type of assurance.
The Buckeyes (-20.5) should be able to win this, 42-21.
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