Leading his Hoosiers against the No. 6 team in the country, head coach Tom Allen understands the “program-changing” opportunity that has been presented to him. IU has had valiant attempts going after Ohio State in recent memory, but the inevitable drop-off in the later stages of the game always has continued to plague the Hoosiers. Can Indiana’s football team finally “breakthrough” so that Allen gets his signature win as the head coach?
The Hoosiers currently live on both sides of the coin with regards to pressure. On one hand, there’s no pressure at all. Nobody is truly expecting that that Hoosiers win — a game where they are currently 16-point underdogs at the time of this article. Indiana rides on house money and has tremendous upside when you view this game in the context of the current season.
When asked about playing Big Ten East teams like Ohio State, Allen responded emphatically, “It also creates tremendous opportunity, and that’s how I look at it. Yeah, it’s tough, there’s no doubt. Your margin for error against these guys, teams like this, is right there. Every mistake you make gets magnified. They expose you in a lot of ways. That’s why you have to play so hard and so well together and have a complete offense, defense, special teams game.”
But that’s what you have, and so to me, I’ve been some places where you don’t have an opportunity to play many of those places and those teams. And it is a great chance for us to be able to take that next step as a program, as we always like to say, and those are definitely program-changing, program-defining wins that affect recruiting and affect the trajectory of your program.Tom Allen
When you expand that view at a historical program level, there’s actually a lot of pressure and Tom Allen understands that. A win against Ohio State would mean a “program-changing” victory, snapping a streak of losses to Ohio State that extends over 30 years, and potentially ending the longest Power-Five drought in being ranked as a football program. The difference between this year and past-years is with the talent on the team. The Hoosiers are preparing to take on Ohio State with one of the deepest Indiana rosters in recent memory.
Indiana has a new starting quarterback that’s shown he can sling deep with the best of them, and he’s protected by a veteran group of offensive lineman. Indiana has a strong wide receiver core that showed its depth even more in Indiana’s 52-point victory, where Indiana’s primary star didn’t even haul in a catch. (We explored why in our Game Tape Rewind article here.)
The 16-point spread is deep, but it’s actually the most pro-Indiana line the Hoosiers have had in recent years. (The line has moved from 14 to 16 points since the timing of the below tweet.) The spread is not at all due to Vegas believing Ohio State is bad, in fact coming into Bloomington will be one of the better Ohio State teams we have seen. Oddsmakers are believing in the Hoosiers (relatively speaking) and their potential.
On top of that, the Hoosiers had one of the more impressive fan showings for their opening home game against an FCS team: Eastern Illinois. In fact, former IU basketball player and current Boston Celtic Romeo Langford attended. All things considered, there’s buzz around town for the Indiana Football program. Between new alcohol sales and a tendency of Ohio State fans to travel well to Bloomington, expect a packed house of various shades of red on Saturday against the Buckeyes.
Another wrinkle to consider into the equation is Ohio State’s new head coach. Ryan Day is more than qualified to run the Ohio State program, but with any new coach there can certainly be vulnerabilities. Besides being the interim head coach for the Buckeyes last season, which shouldn’t be underestimated, Day has never actually held a head coaching position. When he comes to Bloomington, it will be his first road Big Ten game as a head coach.
The ingredients are there, and of course for this recipe to be successful, the Hoosiers will need a lot of things to go the right way, and a bit of luck on their side. Again, no one is expecting the upset to occur. But the commander-in-chief of the Indiana program is entering Saturday with optimism.
When asked if he thinks his team can last until the final whistle against Ohio State, Allen had this to say:
That’s the expectation, yes. You can see, you go back from 2017, ’18, watching those games again and I was the head coach then. And what you just said, you get — 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. And it’s not about just competing with them and feeling good about that. Certain stages of your program you feel that’s what you want to do. And to me, we’ve been there and we’ve done that, so now we’ve got to finish.Tom Allen
But in my mindset and the expectation that I have as the head coach of this program, 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.Tom Allen
Featured Photo: IndianaHQ