Intangibles Favor Indiana for Week 1 Cover vs. Second-Ranked Ohio State

ohio state indiana

Matthew Jordan

Wednesday, August 9, 2017 3:12 PM GMT

Wednesday, Aug. 9, 2017 3:12 PM GMT

Big Ten teams usually don’t open the college football season against one another, but Ohio State and Indiana will kick off their 2017 campaigns Thursday, Aug. 31, in an ESPN national TV game (8 p.m. ET) from Bloomington.

No. 2 Ohio State Buckeyes at Indiana Hoosiers

It’s Ohio State at Indiana with an 8 p.m. ET kickoff on Aug. 31 – a game that was moved from Sept. 2 so it could be televised nationally on ESPN. It’s the first time since 1976 that the Buckeyes will open a season against a Big Ten opponent. OSU is 12-0 all-time when it begins a season vs. a Big Ten foe and 5-0 when doing so against Indiana, with it last occurring in 1954. This will be only the third time in school history that Ohio State opens on a Thursday. It is 2-0, last thumping Marshall in Columbus 45-7 in 2010.

One big story line here will be OSU’s new offensive coordinator, Kevin Wilson. He was fired/forced out/resigned last December as Indiana’s head coach amid concerns over player mistreatment. For example, there were allegations that Wilson forced his guys to play through injuries. On April 7, 2015, the father of a player appealed to Indiana’s athletic department about how his son had been treated after an injury. That started an external investigation and was the beginning of the end for Wilson. He was 26-47 in his six seasons there, reaching just one bowl game.

OSU coach Urban Meyer apparently didn’t care about Wilson’s past as the guy is considered a bright offensive mind and was hired as the Buckeyes’ OC. Last year’s co-offensive coordinator and QBs coach Tim Beck left to join Tom Herman’s staff at Texas. Meanwhile, Indiana wasted no time replacing Wilson by promoting defensive coordinator Tom Allen. The Hoosiers’ defense improved dramatically in 2016 under Allen’s watch as IU cut more yards per game allowed off its total from 2015 to 2016 than any team in the country. Allen was named a finalist for the Broyles Award, given to the nation’s top assistant in college football.

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Buckeyes Look Loaded Again

Ohio State, which was blown out in last season’s national semifinals by Clemson, is ranked No. 2 nationally in the Preseason Coaches’ Poll and is a +500 second-favorite on BetOnline’s college football odds to win the national title. It is also a -115 leader to win the Big Ten. ESPN's College Football Power Index has OSU as the nation’s best team with a 35 percent chance to be undefeated entering bowl season. By comparison, Alabama has a 10 percent chance.

Meyer brings back 15 starters, led by quarterback and Heisman Trophy candidate J.T. Barrett (+1000 to win it). He’s going to break the Big Ten record for TDs responsible for this season – he is six touchdowns shy of Drew Brees' mark of 106. The fifth-year senior Barrett is 26-4 as a starting quarterback and will be the first three-time captain in school history.

OSU will be down one starter for this game in defensive tackle Michael Hill. He has been suspended indefinitely but at a minimum of the opener due to undisclosed reasons. Hill started all 13 games last season and recorded 21 tackles, three for a loss.

Indiana welcomes back 15 starters from last year’s team that finished 6-7 after losing to Utah in the Foster Farms Bowl. That includes QB Richard Lagow, who threw for 3,362 yards, 19 touchdowns and 17 picks. Leading rusher Devine Redding (1,122 yards, seven TDs) has moved on.

Ohio State has won 22 straight games vs. Indiana, one shy of the Buckeyes’ longest winning streak in the series. It was 38-17 in Columbus a season ago when OSU was also ranked No. 2 in the country. Barrett was just 9-for-21 passing for 93 yards but threw for a TD (and a pick). He rushed 26 times for 137 yards and a TD. Lagow was 14-for-28 for 182 yards, two scores and a pick for IU.

Whether the Buckeyes win this game isn’t up for debate, and I’m hoping this line grows to -21.5 at some point. But I like Indiana to cover on my college football pick for two reasons in particular: to stick it to their former tyrant coach Wilson and because OSU might be looking ahead to a Week 2 showdown vs. Oklahoma.

NCAAF Free Pick: Indiana +21Best Line Offered: 5Dimes

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