COLUMBUS — Ohio State football prepared to face a dual-threat challenge from Indiana redshirt freshman quarterback Michael Penix, Jr., on Saturday.
According to coach Ryan Day, the Buckeyes also prepared for Thursday’s news that Penix is a game-time decision due to an undisclosed injury or other physical setback. If the electric redshirt freshman cannot go, the starting nod goes to Peyton Ramsey, who faced off against Ohio State in Columbus last season.
“He’s a good player — we’ve seen that before,” Day said of Ramsey. “He played good against us last year. Penix is a young, talented guy. We’ve been preparing for both of those guys here all along, and both guys bring different things to the table.”
Ohio State defeated Indiana 49-26 at Ohio Stadium last season, with the Buckeyes separating late to improve to 6-0. Dwayne Haskins bombed away against the Hoosiers, completing 33 of 44 passes for 455 yards and six touchdowns.
At the time, Penix was a true freshman backing up Peyton Ramsey, a Cincinnati Elder product. Ramsey completed 26 of 49 passes for 322 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions against the Buckeyes.
Now a junior, Ramsey entered the season as Indiana’s all-time completion percentage leader (65.8) and ranking 10th in total offense (4,707), ninth in passing touchdowns (29) and fifth in 300-yard games (three).
Ramsey made his collegiate debut one year earlier in the season opener against Ohio State in Bloomington.
While not considered as mobile as Penix, Ramsey has also displayed running ability. Last season he rushed for 43 yards and a touchdown on six carries against Ball State, 51 yards and a touchdown on 10 carries against Rutgers and 57 yards on eight carries against Minnesota and 51 yards on seven carries against Michigan.
Other subtle differences come into play, such as the fact that the 6-2, 210-pound Ramsey is right-handed and 6-3, 202-pound Penix is a lefty. According to Day, the Buckeyes can now shift to a contingency for which they were already preparing.
“Nothing changed that way,” Day said. “I don’t really know how it’s all going to play out. Even if somebody’s healthy, after the second play they could go down. So you have to prepare for both and have a plan for both.”