Bloomington, Ind.- The Indiana Hoosiers return from their bye week to battle defending national champion and No. 8 Ohio State. The Buckeyes enter the matchup coming off a 19-10 victory over then-No.9 Iowa.
We took Monday and Tuesday off after Northwestern, Indiana head coach Gerry DiNardo said. We took seven coaches on the road recruiting. We are really far along with our evaluation and identification with recruiting, and we are up to 10 commitments. We actually practiced Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. We gave them Saturday off and came back Sunday with practice, and they had Monday off. Now we are back with our regular routine. We are a little further along with our game plan against Ohio State because of the extra week of preparation. Were pretty healthy. We dont have any injuries other than the guys out for the year. Everyone will be at practice today and ready to go.
Despite a 1-6 record, DiNardo sees considerable improvement in his second season in Bloomington. The program has also made strides with the new AstroPlay field surface, 300 club seats and eight luxury boxes at Memorial Stadium. The Hoosiers also have the benefit of renovated practice and locker room facilities.
I kept watching practice and kept saying were getting better and better, DiNardo said. With this off week, I watched tape from last year and compared last years team to this years team, and Im even more convinced were better in a lot of ways. Not only has the team gotten better, a lot of things about the program have gotten better.
I was evaluating our team, he continued. You look at the first game and you look at the seventh game of last year, which was Iowa, as opposed to the seventh game of this year, which was Northwestern. You kind of bounce around a little, looking at it offensively, defensively and the kick game. Obviously the players that are back are better. Then you look at Herana-Daze (Jones) who was playing linebacker and getting engulfed by a 300-pound linemen. Those type of things, that is where we are better, John Pannozzo, Brian Lewis Aaron Halterman, they are all playing better than they were a year ago. I think other than pass defense and pass offense which we obviously have to address, statistically we are supported that we have gotten better.
The Hoosiers will battle Ohio State at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday. Ironically it marks the first time Memorial Stadium will be sold out since Ohio State visited on Oct. 31, 1998. The game will be televised nationally on ESPN with Mark Jones (p-b-p), Bob Davie (analysis) and Holly Rowe (sidelines). The matchup can also be heard on the IU Radio Network with Don Fischer (p-b-p), Dan Thompson (analysis) and Joe Smith (pre game, halftime, post game).
Indiana and Ohio State will battle in front of an expected sellout crowd of 51,325. It marks the first sellout at Memorial Stadium since then-No. 1 Ohio State visited Bloomington on October 31, 1998 (OSU 38-7)
Saturdays contest marks the first time ever that the defending national champion visits Memorial Stadium.
Indiana has rushed for 1,120 yards this season and needs just 279 more rushing yards to eclipse its team rushing total from a season ago.
A total of seven Hoosiers call the state of Ohio home, highlighted by senior safety Joe Gonzalez (Avon Lake). Other Hoosier starters that reside from Ohio include offensive lineman Adam Hines (Vandalia) and linebacker Kevin Smith (Canton).
This marks the 19th time that a top-10 team has visited Memorial Stadium. The last time a top-10 team came to Bloomington was when then-No. 1 Ohio State posted a 38-7 victory over the Hoosiers in 1998. Indiana owns a 1-17 mark against top-10 teams at Memorial Stadium, with the lone victory coming against Purdue (19-14) in 1967.
Entering Saturdays contest with a 6-1 overall record and a 2-1 mark in Big Ten play are the defending national champion-Ohio State Buckeyes.
Ohio State has enjoyed defensive success this year, leading the Big Ten and ranking second nationally by holding opponents to only 60.6 rushing yards per game. The Buckeyes rank sixth nationally in total defense, holding the opposition to 269.0 yards per contest.
Things havent been as positive on the offensive side of the ball, where Ohio State ranks 114th out of 117 Division I-A teams in total offense, scrounging up 278.3 yards per contest.
Last Time Out for the Buckeyes
The Buckeyes come off a 19-10 win over then-No. 9 Iowa at Ohio Stadium last Saturday in which they jumped out to a 10-0 lead in the first quarter after a 54-yard punt return touchdown from Michael Jenkins. Special teams came through for the Buckeyes later in the contest as well, as Donte Whitner recovered a punt blocked by Roy Hall and took it into the endzone. The Ohio State offense accounted for only three of the teams 19 points, but the Buckeyes still found a way to win, as they have done consistently over the last two years.
Who To Watch
Ohio State wins with defense, and the leaders of that defense are linebacker A.J. Hawk and defensive end Will Smith. Hawk ranks fourth in the Big Ten with 9.3 tackles per game and has also registered 3.0 sacks on the year. As for Smith, he ranks fourth in the conference with 6.5 sacks and leads the league with 11.5 tackles for loss. One of the nations best athletes, defensive back/return specialist Chris Gamble is an elite cover corner who has broken up six passes and added an interception, as well.
Quarterback Craig Krenzel doesnt put up big numbers, but finds ways to win. His favorite target is receiver Michael Jenkins.
DiNardo on Ohio State
They are real good. They are one of the better defenses in college football right now. They are a great defense.
(Michael) Jenkins is doing the punt returning. (Chris) Gamble was doing it and now Jenkins is doing it. Their kickers are very good. If you look at their punt team, it is virtually all linebackers. They are stabilized enough where their special teams reflect their depth at linebacker, tight end, strong safety and free safety. From a program standpoint, that is very impressive. They have the right positions playing in special teams, and they are very good at it as well.