COLUMBUS – Ohio State’s 38-17 win over Indiana was the Buckeyes’ 22nd in a row over the Hoosiers.
So why were people talking about the Hoosiers being a team that gives OSU trouble after the latest edition of one of college football’s more one-sided match-ups?
Maybe because IU does give Ohio State some problems. Or at least more problems than you would expect Ohio State to have against a team it has not lost to since 1988.
In Urban Meyer’s five seasons in Columbus, only one of OSU’s wins over Indiana could be considered easy, a 42-14 rout in 2013.
Saturday’s win wasn’t as difficult as last year, when Ohio State was behind at halftime before winning 34-27 in Bloomington.
It wasn’t as scary as 2012 when OSU had to fall on an onside kick in the final minute to preserve a 52-49 win. It didn’t require a second-half comeback like a 42-27 victory in 2014.
Lately the Hoosiers always seem to be a thornier test than expected.
That was offensive lineman Billy Price’s word. “They’re just one of the thorns in our foot,” Price said after Saturday’s win.
In different eras of Ohio State football there have been opponents who, for match-up reasons, or the ability to come up with a good game plan year after year or something who have consistently played the Buckeyes tough.
John Cooper’s most famous nemesis, of course, was Michigan. But his OSU teams lost seven times in 13 games to Illinois, including his first five games against the Illini.
Earle Bruce was 4-5 against Wisconsin and all of those games came before Barry Alvarez made the Badgers into a perennial contender in the Big Ten.
Jim Tressel lost only once to Purdue, but the Boilermakers played the Buckeyes close several times, including the national championship season of 2002 when Ohio State escaped with a win on the famed “Holy Buckeye” touchdown pass from Craig Krenzel to Michael Jenkins.
Defensive end Sam Hubbard said, “We just play them (Indiana) hard every year. Every year we get a good game against them. I don’t know what it is. They’ve got great players, a great coach and it’s just a great match-up.
“It’s crazy that we won by 21 and we don’t feel that great about the win,” he said. “A lot of us have stuff we could do better. That’s what we talked about as a team after the game.
“We needed some adversity at some point. It helps us grow. And we got some today,” he said.
A little adversity has become business as usual for Ohio State against Indiana. But the bottom line is there probably shouldn’t be excessive concern about a 21-point win over an Indiana team Meyer said has the best personnel of any of the five Hoosiers teams he has coached against.