Ten Pressing Questions: OSU wants to stay hot in visiting Indiana

No. 5 Ohio State will visit Indiana at 7:30 p.m. Eastern tonight. The game will be televised nationally by ABC.

The Buckeyes (5-1, 3-0) will return to action after an open week last Saturday. The Hoosiers (2-4, 0-3) are struggling after contending for the Big Ten Eastern Division championship last season.

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As always, we have our Ten Pressing Questions feature to prepare you for today’s game. We will provide the answers in our First Look column. Here we go:

* 1. Will the Buckeyes come out of their open week and start fast? –  OSU was dominant in its two Big Ten wins prior to the open week, blasting Rutgers 52-13 and Maryland 66-17. Earlier in the year, OSU struggled to start games. They remedied that with good starts in those last two games.

* 2. Can C.J. Stroud stay on his torrid pace? –  Stroud, a redshirt freshman, has already thrown for 400 yards twice in his first five starts as the OSU quarterback. He joins Dwayne Haskins as the only quarterback in OSU history with multiple 400-yard games. In the last two games, Stroud has completed 73 percent of his passes for 736 yards and 10 touchdowns.

* 3. How will OSU handle Indiana’s blitz packages? –  The Hoosiers brought everything but the kitchen sink last year against OSU’s Justin Fields as they rallied from a 28-7 halftime deficit to within a touchdown late. OSU held on for the 42-35 win, but the Buckeyes know the blitz happy Hoosiers (led by LB Micah McFadden) could dial up the pressure at any time.

* 4. Can TreVeyon Henderson continue to confound opposing defenses? –  The speedy Henderson scored three touchdowns (two rushing, one receiving) in OSU’s win over Maryland. That gives him 11 touchdowns, tying him already for fourth place for single-season touchdowns by an OSU freshman. The record is 18 by Maurice Clarett in 2002 … and it is definitely in sight.

* 5. Will Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson continue their aerial acrobatics against Indiana? –  Olave and Wilson made the secondaries from Rutgers and Maryland look downright awful with their performances in those two games. Olave has four 100-yard games this year, Wilson has three and Jaxon Smith-Njigba has two.

* 6. How will Miyan Williams look in his expected return to action? –  Williams has only seen action in three games this season and did not play against Rutgers or Maryland, presumably due to some health-related issue. Depth at running back at Ohio State is suddenly a big question with Marcus Crowley out.

* 7. Who will start at quarterback for Indiana? –  The Hoosiers played Michigan State last week without starting quarterback Michael Penix Jr., who suffered a shoulder injury in his team’s loss at Penn State. Jack Tuttle started against MSU and threw two interceptions, including a pick-six, in what became a 20-15 loss to the Spartans. Penix threw for 491 yards against OSU last year, but has not played anything close to that when healthy this year.

* 8. Can the OSU defensive line continue its strong trajectory? –  OSU registered five sacks in the win over Maryland. DE Zach Harrison did not have a sack but he chased Maryland QB Taulia Tagovailoa into the arms of several of his teammates. OSU could have Tyreke Smith back for this game and it could make a difference.

* 9. Will the linebackers make an impact once again this week? –  OSU has settled on a four-man rotation for the two linebacker spots. Cody Simon and Tommy Eichenberg share the middle linebacker position, while Teradja Mitchell and Steele Chambers are rotating at the outside linebacker position.

* 10. How will the OSU back seven contend with Indiana WR Ty Fryfogle? –  The Buckeyes had no answer for Fryfogle last year. He torched OSU for seven catches for 218 yards and three touchdowns during that big comeback last year. OSU counters with three healthy corners – at least we think – with Denzel Burke, Sevyn Banks and Cameron Brown.

* Bonus Question: Is Ohio State a legitimate Big Ten and national championship contender? – The Buckeyes are up to No. 5 in this week’s polls – just outside the top four needed to qualify for the College Football Playoff. Their blowout wins over Rutgers and Maryland impressed the voters. It’s never easy winning on the road in the Big Ten, although this is certainly a wounded Indiana team.

Everybody will be watching to see if OSU maintained its momentum through the open week and even improved in some areas. The Buckeyes can’t get caught looking ahead to next week’s home showdown with No. 7 Penn State. That could be the first of five ranked teams OSU could play in the next six weeks. But first things first and that’s Indiana tonight.

We will let you know how they do. Enjoy the game and check out Bucknuts.com later today for all of the coverage.