The storyline the past two years has been so similar that the Associated Press headlines are practically identical.
The combined score at the halftime of those games? Ohio State 41, Indiana 34. After the break? The Buckeyes took over with a combined total of 64 points to the Hoosiers 13.
"Late in the third quarter, the game was close, and then they pulled away from us both times. Bottom line is that we have to finish." said Indiana coach Tom Allen. "And it's not about just competing with them and feeling good about that. We've been competing with them now for the last few years, and so it's our objective and expectation to be able to finish the job."
In last year's game, quarterback Peyton Ramsey threw for 322 yards, and 3 touchdowns on 26/49 passing. However, he wasn't expected to start this weekend's game after being beaten out by athletic, left-handed, freshman Michael Penix, Jr. An injury has Penix's status for this Saturday in doubt, and Allen described him as a game-time decision.
Whoever is throwing the ball will have a talented group of receivers to throw to, and not just receivers. Indiana's tight ends have caught a combined 12 catches this year, and the running back position has accounted for 10 receptions of their own.
Of the actual wideouts, Whop Philyor leads the way with 10 catches and 141 yards.
Up front on offense, the line has three seniors (two of whom are from the state of Ohio) and have yet to give up a sack this season. They average almost 6'5" and 326 pounds.
Like the offense, now led by Kalen DeBoer, the defense has a new coordinator. Tom Allen relinquished control to linebackers coach Kane Wommack.
It's almost certainly too early to make a solid judgement just based on wins over Ball State and Eastern Illinois, but the Hoosiers are currently the 18th ranked scoring defense in the country (12.0 points per game), and they return nine starters on that side of the ball.
That includes senior linebacker Reakwon Jones, who has 15 tackles.
Ohio State's Ryan Day also singled out the play of junior defensive back Marcelino Ball. "He does a lot of things for them," the Buckeye coach said. "Their secondary is really, really strong."
Indiana has been strong on special teams as well. They've used two kickers, and they are a combined 5/5 on field goal attempts, with four of those coming from 40 or more yards out. Like many other teams, they have an Australian punter, but this week there's a new wrinkle: Haydon Whitehead can boot it with his right or left (which he uses predominantly) foot.
Ohio State and Indiana collide Saturday at noon in Bloomington. Pregame will air on 105.7 The Brew starting at 9:00 a.m.
Other Indiana nuggets:
- The Hoosiers are coming off their biggest win (52-0 against Eastern Illinois) since 1944.
- Starting right guard Simon Stepaniack can bench 515 pounds. For comparison's sake, Ohio State's Tommy Togiai can bench around 500 pounds.
- Indiana running back Stevie Scott III has a touchdown in seven straight games.
- There are two former Michigan players on the IU staff: running backs coach Mike Hart and tight ends coach Nick Sheridan.
- Indiana easily wins any contest for best names, and stories involving names. They have a strong safety (Devon Matthews) nicknamed "Monster." Whop Philyor? He's so called because of his love for Burger King Whoppers. Peyton Ramsey's name is an homage to Peyton Manning, while his brothers--Montana and Drew--are similarly named for famous signal callers, specifically Joe Montana and Drew Bledsoe. Then there's Ty Fryfogle. Oh, there's no story behind that. It's just a great name. Fryfogle.