May 10, 2021

With a Second-Half Collapse vs. Indiana, Ohio State Has Allowed Doubt to Creep in

Early in the third quarter of No. 3 Ohio State’s game Saturday against No. 9 Indiana, I began writing this column. I wrote close to 400 words, in fact.

On the field below me, the Buckeyes were salting away what seemed like another blowout conference victory, up four touchdowns with no real concerns defensively even if there were some offensive hiccups.

I had calculated all of this research to show how wide the gap has gotten between Ohio State and the rest of the Big Ten, how they’ve won 19 straight league games by an average of 25 points, how the Buckeyes have both out-played and out-recruited other league schools in the kind of dominance that will have them somewhat easily cruising to a College Football Playoff spot.

And then everything changed (and in 2020, that should surprise no one). The Buckeyes went from looking like the class of the conference, head and shoulders above what might be the second-best team in the league, to a team with real problems.

In a move that every sports writer dreads, I highlighted those 400 words and deleted them.

Down on the field, things kept getting worse for Ohio State. The Buckeyes eventually survived, needing a last-minute defensive stand to hang on for a 42–35 victory.

But the damage, in a way, was done. The cracks in the armor apparent. The chips in the concrete obvious. The steel bent.

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