BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - Facing one of the toughest opening night challenges in recent memory, Ohio State fell behind early but would run away from Indiana in the second half for a 49-21 victory on Thursday night in Bloomington.
The Buckeye defense stepped up in the second half and held IU to just 151 yards and forced three of the Hoosiers four total turnovers in the final 40 minutes. The offense fed off that momentum and outscored the hosts 36-7 after halftime including scoring the final 29 points of the game.
Playing in the first game of his career and becoming just the second Buckeye true-freshman running back to make his collegiate debut in their first collegiate game, J.K. Dobbins ran for a game-high 181 yards on 29 carries. The 181 yards marked a first-game freshman school rushing record.
Senior quarterback J.T. Barrett looked impressive as he was 20-of-35 passing for 304 yards and three touchdowns. He also ran 13 times for 61 yards and a touchdown. Barrett set his 24th school record (total offense) in the game with 365 total yards, giving him a school-best 9,211 yards.
In one of the biggest games in Bloomington in recent history, the Hoosiers came out of the gate with energy and held the upper hand for the first 15 minutes. The Buckeyes took the opening kickoff right down the field before settling for a Sean Nuernberger 27-yard field goal. Indiana answered with an 11-play, 87-yard touchdown drive to take a 7-3 lead.
The Buckeyes seemed to have stolen the momentum early in the second quarter as Kendall Sheffield tipped a would-be touchdown pass right into the hands of safety Jordan Fuller who returned the ball to near midfield. A long run by Dobbins set the Buckeyes up with first and goal but again, they would settle for another short Nuernberger field goal.
The Hoosiers pushed the lead out to 14-6 on the very next drive but the Buckeyes answered back with their first touchdown of the season, a 1-yard TD plunge by Antonio Williams. Dobbins had 43 yards on the drive, including a 27-yard scamper.
After the halftime break, the Buckeye defense came out the aggressors and forced a pair of three-and-outs. That led to another solid drive for the Buckeye offense that was capped by Barrett's first touchdown of the season. He went two-yards up the middle for his 32nd career rushing touchdown and OSU was back in front 20-14.
Indiana was undaunted and marched right back down the field to retake a 21-20 advantage. But on the first play of the Buckeyes' next drive, Parris Campbell caught a pass on a crossing route and outran the Indiana secondary for a 74-yard touchdown. That play silenced the crowd and kept the momentum on visitor sidelines.
A third three-and-out by the OSU defense set the stage for perhaps the most satisfying touchdown of the night. Barrett hit junior wide receiver Johnny Dixon over the middle and he sprinted for a 59-yard touchdown. For Dixon, who has battled injuries the last two years, that was the first touchdown of his career.
Leading 35-21, sophomore defensive tackle Jashon Cornell forced a fumble that the Buckeyes fell on and one play later they were in the end zone again as Barrett hit Binjimen Victor for Victor's second career touchdown reception. Williams put a cap on the night with his second touchdown run and the Buckeyes would run away with a 49-21 victory.
Defensively, Sheffield led the team with seven total tackles a pair of pass breakups. Tyquan Lewis recorded two sacks and moved into the top-10 in school history with 18.5.