COLUMBUS (AP) — Ohio State staff and players are still baffled by the stunning loss at Iowa last season. Rolling along after a pressure-cooker win over Penn State the week before, the No. 3 Buckeyes became mistake-prone and were outplayed by the unranked Hawkeyes, who were three-touchdown underdogs.
That debacle ended up keeping Ohio State out of the College Football Playoff.
Ohio State (5-0, 2-0) is trying to avoid a similar letdown as it prepares to host Indiana on Saturday. The Buckeyes are ranked No. 3 and coming off a gritty second-half rally against Penn State in the most watched college football game of the year.
The Hoosiers (4-1, 1-1 Big Ten) visit Ohio Stadium as 25-point underdogs.
Coach Urban Meyer said this week the players will be focused on Saturday.
“That’s part of our staff’s responsibility, and more importantly, our leadership of our team,” Meyer said. “That one (Penn State) is over. That’s something we’ll address, and that’s something we work on every day.”
Other things to look for in Saturday’s game:
NEXT MAN UP
Hearts sank on the Ohio State sideline when All-American defensive end Nick Bosa went down with an injury in the TCU game. Talent like his is hard to replace, but other Ohio State linemen are rising to the occasion.
In the Sept. 22 Tulane game, it was defensive tackle Dre’Mont Jones. Last week against Penn State, defensive end Chase Young was all over the place.
The 6-foot-5, 265-pound sophomore had six tackles, half of them for losses, including two sacks. He also broke up two passes and had two quarterback hurries.
“I think it changed everybody on the unit’s mindset that we had Nick down,” Young said. “(He’s the) best player in college football, so we all knew we had to step it up.”
DENT IN THE ARMOR
As well as Ohio State’s defense has played at times this season, it has remained susceptible to big plays.
The Buckeyes allowed a 93-yard touchdown run at TCU, and scoring runs of 80 yards and 78 yards by Oregon State. At Penn State, the defense gave up a 93-yard touchdown pass after earlier allowing quarterback Trace McSorley to escape for a 51-yard scramble.
Ohio State plays an aggressive man-to-man defense, and when a ball carrier gets free of his man, someone else needs to clean up the mess, Meyer said.
“When one breaks, you’ve got to get him down,” he said. “It’s not going to be perfect all the time. We’re a very aggressive coverage team. And there’s been a couple examples this week of not getting them down, those are all things we’re working on.”
The Hoosiers have 14 players from Ohio on their roster, but perhaps nobody will face more scrutiny than quarterback Peyton Ramsey, who played prep football at Cincinnati Elder.
He started four games last season as a redshirt freshman before getting hurt and regained the starting job during a three-man competition during summer camp. He’ll make his first start in his home state on Saturday.
“It’s loud, it’s hostile, it will be our first true road test,” Ramsey said. “It’s all about settling down, taking a deep breath and worrying about the next play.”
Ramsey has played well this season. His 115 completions are tied for the eighth most in the FBS and his completion percentage of 71.0 leads the Big Ten. He’s also thrown eight touchdown passes and five interceptions.
“He’s just gotten better,” Indiana coach Tom Allen said. “He’s a year older, bigger, faster, stronger. He’s just such a competitor, our team believes in him.”
AP Sports Writer Michael Marot in Indianapolis contributed to this report.