COLUMBUS — Ohio State playing Indiana in football is the spectator sports equivalent of watching “How The Grinch Stole Christmas.”
Everybody has seen it so often they can repeat the lines before the characters even speak them. Everybody knows what is coming.
The outcome is always a foregone conclusion in the Dr. Seuss classic and almost always a scarlet and gray certainty when OSU and Indiana line up against each other on the football field.
Oh, there’s that moment when the present-laden sleigh dangles perilously over the cliff. But by now we all know in the end the residents of Whoville and the repentant Grinch are going sit down together to a big Christmas feast.
And we also know the odds are good that Ohio State will be dining on a victory meal if it is playing Indiana.
Ohio State and Indiana have played 54 football games between 1952 and 2013 and OSU has won 50 of them. Indiana has won twice and the teams played to ties in 1990 and 1959.
Indiana’s two wins came in back-to-back years in 1987 and 1988. After a 31-10 loss to the Hoosiers in 1987, OSU coach Earle Bruce said, “This is the darkest day in Ohio State football since I’ve been associated with it.”
Then the sky got even darker the next year when Indiana won 41-7. But IU couldn’t build any momentum off those wins.
This season, Indiana (3-7, 0-6 Big Ten) thought it had a good chance to go to a bowl game for the first time since 2007 and for only the second time in the last 24 seasons.
It had Nate Sudfeld, who threw for 2,523 yards in 2013, at quarterback. It had Tevin Coleman, one of the best running backs in the Big Ten. And its defense, which was really bad last year, had improved enough that it was just pretty bad.
But that all blew up on Oct. 11 against Iowa when Sudfeld suffered a season-ending shoulder injury and his back-up, Chris Covington, tore an ACL.
That forced the Hoosiers to go with freshman Zander Diamont, who so far has been better known for having a dad who is a soap opera actor and a stepmom who was on “Seinfeld” than for anything he has done on the football field.
Indiana has lost five in a row since the injuries to its top two quarterbacks and has averaged only 70 yards a game passing with Diamont at quarterback.
Somehow, even though defenses know what is coming, Coleman has rushed for 1,678 yards, including 307 against Rutgers last week.
OSU (9-1, 6-0) has not done a good job of stopping good running backs the last two weeks. Michigan State’s Jeremy Langford rushed for 137 yards against the Buckeyes and Minnesota’s David Cobb gained 145 yards.
But there are many other factors that outweigh the possibility of Coleman having a big day.
When you combine the chance Ohio State has of reaching the College Football Playoff with the gap in talent between the two teams, it is hard to see anything other than a big Ohio State win happening at Ohio Stadium today.
The prediction: Ohio State 49, Indiana 10.