Hoosiers hoping to cash in on next chance to make statement

Tom Allen expected the Indiana Hoosiers to take advantage of a

prime opportunity two weeks ago against Michigan State.

They’ll get a second chance at No. 3 Ohio State this weekend.

And, as usual, the second-year coach expects his Hoosiers to be

prepared and competitive.

”They’ve got to be more consistent. To me they did some good

things in the first half, but it’s got to continue,” Allen said

Monday when asked about Indiana‘s offensive line. ”We play for 60

minutes.”

It’s a lesson the Hoosiers (4-1, 1-1 Big Ten) should have learned

last season when their inability to close out games cost them a

bowl bid.

This year, they’ve been better – but far from perfect.

They hung on for wins at Florida International and against Virginia

before pulling away from Ball State. Then, against the Spartans,

they fell behind early, charged back late and the defense couldn’t

get one last stop to give the ball back to the offense with a

chance to force overtime or win the game.

On Saturday at Rutgers, it nearly happened again. Indiana pulled

away early and finally put the game away when quarterback Peyton

Ramsey took advantage of a free play to throw for the game-sealing

first down.

The Buckeyes (5-0, 2-0) lead the East Division after last weekend’s

comeback at Penn State. With the win, and coach Urban Meyer back on

the sideline, Ohio State appears to have one of the inside tracks

to a playoff spot.

The Hoosiers hope to end a 25-game winless streak in the series,

including a tie in 1990. Indiana won back-to-back games in 1987 and

1988 – their only victories over the Buckeyes since 1951, when the

late Woody Hayes was in his first season at Ohio State.

”It’s the most talented Ohio State team I’ve seen since I’ve been

here,” said Allen, who spent his first season in Bloomington as

the Hoosiers’ defensive coordinator. ”A very, very good football

team on both sides and special teams, just a lot of playmakers and

speed and athleticism and size and very accurate quarterback. And a

very, very athletic defensive unit.”

The Hoosiers haven’t been 5-1 since 2007, something that has only

occurred three times in the past quarter-century.

Ramsey returns to his home state and is expected to be flanked in

the backfield by true freshmen Stevie Scott and Ronnie Walker Jr.

The question is who will be catching Ramsey’s passes. Receivers

Luke Timian and Whop Philyor, two of Ramsey’s top targets, missed

last week’s game because of undisclosed injuries and it remains

uncertain if they’ll play this week.

”Hopefully we will be able to get a couple guys back that didn’t

play Saturday. I really don’t know any of those yet,” Allen said.

The biggest strides this season have come on defense.

After losing seven of last season’s starters, Indiana ranks in the

top half of the Big Ten in five categories – pass defense,

third-down percentage defense, fourth-down percentage defense,

turnover margin and pass efficiency defense.

But will it be enough to slow down the speedy and dangerous

Buckeyes as they begin a four-game stretch against unranked

opponents?

”The run is where it stops and starts offensively and defensively

so it’s a group that we have a lot of confidence in and they need

to progress together and play better and better each and every

week,” Allen said. ”Going against one of the best front lines in

the country in Ohio State, and we need to create creases and allow

them to play the football.”

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