Ohio State starts low, topples Indiana in season opener, 49-21

Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

It’s a new season and a new year. Ohio State has new offensive coordinators and plenty of new starters, but one thing still seems to have remained the same from 2016 to 2017: the Buckeyes started slow and kept a less-talented Indiana squad in the game. Yeah, it was the season opener. Yeah, Ohio State was on the road (and not taking on a MAC opponent at home) to open the season for the first time in decades. Yeah, Ohio State has unproven talent. But, much like they did for most of 2016, they eventually turned it up in the second half and dominated the Hoosiers, 49-21, to notch their first win of the season.

Quick recap

As the saying goes, the longer you keep an underdog in the game, the more confidence they will have and the better chance they have of coming away with an upset. Although Ohio State took the first lead of the game with a field field goal by Sean Nuernberger, Indiana held a 14-13 halftime lead in a first half that featured a somewhat slow offense from the Buckeyes with five punts by Ohio State. It all went downhill for the Hoosiers in the second half.

Whether it was halftime adjustments or Ohio State having much more depth than Indiana, the Buckeyes dominated the second half.

Five of their final six possessions ended with a touchdown and Ohio State outscored the Hoosiers, 36-7 in the final 30 minutes to take care of business in their season opener, 49-21.

The turning point

The moment Indiana’s student section started chanting “over-rated.” It happened when the Hoosiers took a 21-20 lead with 4:56 left in the third quarter. The Buckeyes then went on to score a touchdown on the first play from scrimmage. Ohio State scored the final 29 points of the game after those chants were made.

Maybe those chants that echoed from the Hoosiers’ student section were exactly what the Buckeyes needed to here and did more to motivate the scarlet and gray than any of their coaches could possibly do.

Top performers

J.T. Barrett: 20-of-35, 304 yards, three touchdowns; 13 carries, 61 yards, one touchdown

The fifth-year senior and three-time captain took over the game in the second half. He started slow, but his leadership eventually allowed the Buckeyes to dominate the second half and come away with their first win in 2017.

J.K. Dobbins: 29 carries, 181 yards; two catches, 24 yards

Due to an ankle injury, the true freshman missed all of his senior high school season. Having not played in a football game in almost two years and just out of high school, you’d think that the lights would have been too bright for Dobbins, but that’s not even close to the case.

In his first game with the scarlet and gray, Dobbins showed off his speed, athleticism, and his shiftiness while dominating the game for the Buckeyes. He broke Maurice Clarrett’s record for the most rushing yards for a true freshman in their first game.

With Mike Weber nursing a hamstring injury that he suffered during fall camp, Dobbins has already taken advantage of the early playing time. He was the first true freshman to start in an opener at running back for Ohio State in 15 years.

Antonio Williams: seven carries, 44 yards, two touchdowns

He made the most of his opportunities when he had the ball in his hands, scoring two touchdowns on just seven carries.

Parris Campbell: six catches, 136 yards, one touchown

Speed kills. His 74-yard touchdown on the first play after Indiana took a 21-20 lead gave Ohio State the lead for good. After catching a short pass, Campbell showed off his speed and just broke away from Indiana’s defense like it was nothing.

Johnnie Dixon: two catches, 65 yards, one touchdown

Much like Campbell, Dixon showed off his speed as well with a 59-yard touchdown of his own on Ohio State’s first drive following Campbell’s touchdown. For a kid that’s been through so much during his time in Columbus, tonight had to be so special.

Kendall Sheffield: seven tackles, two pass breakups

He may not have gotten the start, but his tipped pass that led to a Jordan Fuller interception when Indiana was on the brink of taking a 14-3 lead. You could say that it was a game-changer.

Tyquan Lewis: three tackles, two tackles for loss, two sacks

Ohio State has the best defensive line in the country and Lewis is one of the many reasons why. Whether it was applying pressure to the quarterback or sacking him, he played very well.

Denzel Ward: four tackles, one interception, five pass breakups

The Buckeyes’ top cornerback this year, Ward proved why in his first game as CB1. His interception was quite impressive and so was his play throughout the game.

Top plays

It wasn’t a touchdown, but J.K. Dobbins shiftiness and ability to juke his way into open space was awesome, especially for a true freshman.

With Ohio State already trailing, 7-3, Kendall Sheffield tipped what would have been a touchdown and it was intercepted by Jordan Fuller. Indiana was so close to going up 14-3.

Parris Campbell’s 74-yard touchdown when he showed off his speed. It was incredible just how easy he made it look to breakaway from Indiana’s defense like he did.

Much like Campbell did the possession before, Johnnie Dixon was able to show off his Big Ten speed after catching a pass from Barrett.

Although the call was overturned and it was ruled an incomplete pass following a review, nothing will ever take away from the fact that defensive tackle Robert Landers showed off a little speed, picked up a fumble, and ran it for a touchdown.

Denzel Ward’s ability to stay with his wide receiver and use his eyes to look back and see where the ball is is quite impressive. He did so on this play to nab his first interception of the season.

Onto the next one

The Buckeyes now have plenty of time to prepare for their Top 10 matchup against Oklahoma on Saturday, September 9. It will be a primetime game in the Horseshoe, set for a 7:30 p.m. ET kickoff.