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How much threat does Indiana really pose to Buckeyes?

Master Teague-Ohio State-Buckeyes-Ohio State football
Master Teague and Ohio State pounded Indiana last year. (Birm/Lettermen Row)

Question Of The Day

How much threat does Indiana really pose to Buckeyes?

The speculation, debate and conversations about Ohio State never end, and Lettermen Row is always ready to dive into the discussions. All week long, senior writer Austin Ward will field topics about the Buckeyes submitted by readers and break down anything that’s on the minds of the Best Damn Fans in the Land. Have a question that needs to be tackled, like the one today about Ohio State and the threat from Indiana? Send it in right here — and check back daily for the answers.

Indiana is a great story.

Are the Hoosiers a great team or even a true challenger to Ohio State’s throne? That seems a lot less likely at this point.

Certainly Indiana deserves all the credit it’s received for its strong start, and it has earned the right to feel good about itself after knocking off traditional powerhouses in Michigan and Penn State. The Hoosiers have an exciting passing attack with a dynamic quarterback, they’ve unleashed an opportunistic defense early in the season and there’s no question at all that Tom Allen has his team confident and playing hard.

But it doesn’t even require that close of a look at the schedule to see that Indiana hasn’t remotely proven itself against the caliber of competition it will face on Saturday against the Buckeyes. Those victories over the Wolverines and Nittany Lions? Those teams have combined to win just once this season, and it’s hard to learn all that much from what the Hoosiers did against Rutgers or hapless Michigan State either.

Garrett Wilson-Ohio State-Buckeyes-Ohio State football

Garrett Wilson got involved for Ohio State in last year’s win over Indiana. (Birm/Lettermen Row)

Of course, Indiana will simply view it as a four-game winning streak in the Big Ten — and they should do that and feel some momentum at its back heading into the de facto East Division title matchup with the Buckeyes. But there’s a reason why the Hoosiers are still three-touchdown underdogs, and it’s the glaring difference in talent between those two programs.

For Ohio State’s part, though, it is absolutely taking the Hoosiers seriously. That’s generally the biggest hurdle in this particular conference matchup anyway. The Buckeyes rarely need to play their best to extend a winning streak over Indiana that now stretches 24 games, and often they do wind up guilty of overlooking that game or sleepwalking through it. The potential problem for the Hoosiers this week is that they clearly have the attention of an angry Ohio State, and with the stakes being what they are, the program is laser-focused on what may well be the toughest test of the regular season.

“It’s like that every game for us,” Ohio State coach Ryan Day said. “Whether somebody’s 4-0 or 0-4, we have to win every game here. So every game is big, but when Indiana is playing the way they are right now, it’s certainly a little bit different in the fact that this is a major challenge for us. It’s a challenge every time we play a game, but they way that they’re playing and the way that they’ve won games, our margin for error gets smaller and smaller.

“They’ve been playing really, really well. So we’ve got to be ready to go right from the get-go.”

Upsets happen in college football, and Indiana has every right to believe it’s capable of pulling one off against the Buckeyes.

But from the outside looking in, it’s still hard from here to view the Hoosiers as a serious contender.

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Austin Ward

Austin Ward is Lettermen Row's senior writer covering Ohio State football and basketball. The award-winning journalist has covered the Buckeyes since 2012, spending five of those seasons working for ESPN after previous stints at the Casper Star-Tribune and Knoxville News Sentinel.