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Indiana Football Game Preview: Ohio State – key storylines, injury report, how to watch



Indiana football
Indiana's Tom Allen leads the Hoosiers onto the field at Memorial Stadium © Rich Janzaruk/Herald-Times / USA TODAY NETWORK

Indiana football kicks off it’s college football season on Saturday against the No. 3 ranked Ohio State Buckeyes. Saturday kicks off the kicks off its 139th season of Indiana football.

The Hoosiers are looking to bounce back from a dreadful 4-8 campaign in 2022. Meanwhile, Ohio State went 11-2 last season and had a one-point loss to Georgia in the College Football Playoff Semifinals.

Indiana football has a 6-18 record over the past two years which followed a 14-7 record the two seasons prior.

Indiana will open with a Big Ten foe for the fifth time in Tom Allen’s seven campaigns and fourth straight season. Allen has faced Ohio State (2017 & 2023), Penn State (2020), Iowa (2021) and Illinois to open the season as the Hoosiers frontman. Since 2002, Indiana has opened the season at home in 14 of the previous 21 seasons. The Hoosiers own a 13-1 record in those games, with the lone loss to No. 2 Ohio State (2017).

Below is the full game preview of everything you need to know about Saturday’s matchup.

Key Storylines

Who is Indiana’s starting quarterback?

This has been THE storyline for Indiana football this offseason. While returning starting quarterback Dexter Williams II has been sidelined all of this offseason recovering from his significant knee injury he suffered in Indiana’s final game of 2022, the battle in that position has been between redshirt freshmen Tayven Jackson and Brendan Sorsby.

While Tom Allen has made a decision for the starting quarterback, it has not be publicly announced leaving only speculation the week of the first game for the Hoosiers.

“We have a decision, and no we are not going to announce it,” Allen told reporters over Zoom last week. “Both young, both talented. Both bring different skillsets to the team. Very pleased with those guys. Both have improved a lot since they’ve been here … both have worked extremely hard. In the leadership role, I challenged both of them and they’ve grown in those areas and viewed in that regard. Two young men that we feel very good about that have great qualities.”

Regardless of whoever gets the nod, both Jackson and Sorsby are going to be thrown into the fire against powerhouse Ohio State. Neither player has started a game in their collegiate careers. Jackson, who transferred to Indiana from Tennessee, was just 3-of-4 or 37 yards and had four carries for 10 yards and a touchdown a season ago. Sorsby was just 3-of-8 for eight yards and one interception in 2022.

As it was last year, Indiana football fans won’t likely know who the starting quarterback for the Hoosiers will be until around the opening kickoff.

Is the young secondary ready for this challenge? 

No questions about it, the very young Indiana football secondary is in for a steep challenge right off the bat this season. Ohio State is one of the most talented wide receiver groups in college football this season and includes Marvin Harrison Jr, Emeka Egbuka, Julian Fleming, and five-star freshman Carnell Tate.

Last season, Indiana ranked 14th in the Big Ten in passing defense. It gave up a league-high in passing yards (3,290), yards per attempt (8.0) and touchdowns (30). On the flip side, it ranked 12th in interceptions (7).

The secondary of Indiana is led by senior Noah Pierre and features a lot of returning sophomores followed by redshirt freshmen that make up most of the core. Toss in the transfers, there are a lot of newer faces that Indiana football will be featuring in the secondary this year.

“It’s kind of crazy. This is the first time in a long time that we haven’t had anyone come back with Indiana experience. You start all over,” IU cornerbacks coach Brandon Shelby said. “Although you have some guys that have transferred in from other universities, who played a fair amount, they are leaving our terminology, how we do things, how we communicate, so you start from the very beginning: this is a football, this is where you line up. Then, you get into not only knowing the schemes and checks.”

Now without some of the notable names in the secondary like Taiwan Mullen, Bryant Fitzgerald and Jaylin Williams…look for guys, along with Pierre, like Jamari Sharpe, James Monds, Jamier Johnson, Kobee Minor to take advantage of this opportunity.

There will be struggles going up against this Ohio State WR unit, but it is all about how the Hoosiers respond to the adversity.

How will Indiana start the season? Will they fight? Will they fold? 

This Indiana football comes into this season with a lot to prove. In all reality, the faith for this program is not as high as what it used to be just a few short years ago and going just 6-18 record the last seasons does that to a program.

When it comes to Week 1 in college football, hardly ever does anyone 100% know what to expect. Teams look much different year in and year out.

“Yeah, to me it’s just a matter of preparation. That’s the best answer I can give, and it’s going to be key,” Allen said earlier this week. “It’s going to reveal itself, and we’ve got to do a great job as coaches of putting them in the best position as possible.”

We now know that Kyle McCord will get the starting nod at quarterback for Ohio State with Devin Brown likely getting time on the field as well. However, with both of those guys lacking colligate playing experience, can Indiana’s defense take advantage of that?

Then on the offensive end for Indiana football, will the offensive line take that much needed jump and open up the run lanes as well as protect whoever is behind center for the Hoosiers?

There are a lot of questions for the Hoosiers that will be answered to a certain degree on Saturday. Too many to answer without actually seeing the product they have put together in the offseason.

Nobody expects Indiana to win this — they most likely won’t — but it is all about how the Hoosiers compete on the football field. Will they be a team that has fight in them until the final whistle? Or are they going to fold early and let Ohio State own them in their own home?

“Yeah, they’ll be tested without question. They’ll be put in a situation where they’re going to have to play really, really well, and they’re going to have to have a really bad memory. If something happens, you’ve got to flush, and you’ve got to go.”

Trending: Taking Indiana football with the points against Ohio State? Numerous analysts say yes.

Last Matchup

The Hoosiers and the Buckeyes last faced off this past November which resulted in a 56-14 Ohio State victory. Former star Ohio State quarterback CJ Stroud threw for 297 yards and 5 touchdowns compared to 2022 Indiana starting quarterback Dexter Williams II’s 107 passing yards and 2 touchdowns. Former Indiana tight end AJ Barner and returning junior wide receiver Donaven McCulley each had a receiving touchdown.

The last meeting in Memorial Stadium came in 2021 in a driving rain under the lights in a Buckeyes victory.

The 2023 season opener marks the sixth time that Indiana and Ohio State will meet in Week 1. The first season opening meeting game in 1938, a 6-0 setback for IU in Columbus, Ohio. IU then met OSU in the season opener three straight seasons from 1952-54 and again opened the season versus the Buckeyes in 2017. The first four games were all played in Columbus.

Injury Updates


QB Dexter Williams II: Williams will not be available this game and the first few weeks of the season. He is still in the recovery process of his significant knee injury from Indiana football’s season finale last year. While he has not be a part of Indiana’s quarterback battle, he has been able to contribute on the field a little as well as be a leader for both Jackson and Sorsby.

WR Cam Camper: Camper is expected to be full go tomorrow. It was reported that he was ahead of schedule last month for Indiana’s season opener. Cam Camper was on track to be one of the most productive wide receivers in the Big Ten a season ago before an ACL injury put an end to his first season with the Indiana football program.

Ohio State

LB Kourt Williams: Out for the season with an ACL injury

Read: Indiana football turns focus towards Ohio State: ‘If something happens, you’ve got to flush, and you’ve got to go’

Quick Hitters

Who?: No. 3 Ohio State (0-0) at Indiana (0-0)

When?: Saturday, Sept. 2 | 3:30 p.m. ET

Where?: Memorial Stadium


Radio: Indiana Hoosiers Sports Network

Spread: Ohio State -29.5

SEE ALSO: Indiana Football Week 1 Stock Report: Who’s trending up? Who’s trending down?

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Kyler Staley is a Basketball Recruiting Analyst for Hoosier Illustrated, a comprehensive site covering news, updates and recruiting for Indiana University athletics. Kyler has been in the basketball recruiting industry since 2019 and is a credentialed media member. He has covered Indiana since 2021 while continuing to also work for Prep Hoops Indiana. He has previously worked for Rivals.