Ohio State Buckeyes

5 storylines to watch in Ohio State opener at Indiana

COLUMBUS, OH - NOVEMBER 26: Ohio State Buckeyes head coach Urban Meyer during the game against the Michigan Wolverines on November 26, 2016, at Ohio Stadium in Columbus, OH. Ohio State Buckeyes Won 30-27 in double overtime. (Photo by Jason Mowry/Icon Sportswire)
Jason Mowry/Icon Sportswire

The Ohio State Buckeyes won’t exactly sneak into Thursday night’s season opener. When the Buckeyes face the Indiana Hoosiers, ESPN will again unveil its acclaimed “Megacast’’ — six (!) alternate presentations, a level of coverage never experienced at any of the previous 89 Ohio State-Indiana football matchups.

There’s a Coaches Film Room. There’s a Homers’ Broadcast. There’s an All-22 angle (the entire field from above the end zone). There’s the Skycam perspective.

There’s a DataCenter presentation, complete with analytics, real-time drive charts, win probability updates and curated social media reaction. There’s the Command Center, a split-screen with simultaneous multiple camera views.

For those boring old-school viewers, there’s the obligatory regular broadcast.

Question: Where’s the Kevin Wilson Cam?

Here are five storylines to chew on as we await Ohio State vs. Indiana — the Buckeyes’ first Big Ten Conference season opener since 1976.

1. Kevin Wilson — The schedule-makers sure have a sense of humor — or sense of drama.

Wilson, the former Indiana head coach who stepped down in December after what was called “philosophical differences,’’ quickly was snapped up as Ohio State’s offensive coordinator.

Wilson, who will coach from the press box, has taken the high road and tried to de-emphasize his role. There were reports he was forced out at Indiana due to mistreating players, but Wilson has distanced himself from any talk of acrimony.

If Ohio State gets the opportunity, will it run up the score?

2. The offense — Putting aside the Wilson/Indiana angle, his presence could be a big deal for Ohio State’s offense. Wilson worked wonders as offensive coordinator at Northwestern and Oklahoma, while also turning Indiana into a bit of a feared offensive unit.

That type of production is needed at Ohio State.

Last season, the Buckeyes were flattened 31-0 by eventual national champion Clemson at the Fiesta Bowl’s national semifinals.

Urban Meyer made it clear. He wouldn’t tolerate those kind of results.

He ushered out a pair of offensive assistants, replacing them with Wilson and quarterbacks coach Ryan Day. All eyes will be on senior quarterback J.T. Barrett, who has produced 100 career touchdowns, to see if he can shake off the sputters from last season’s late going.

Ohio State has offensive talent — lots of it.

Can Wilson’s up-tempo concepts, which have flourished at all of his previous stops, take the Buckeyes to a higher level?

3. The freshmen — It’s difficult for any player to go from high school football to instant key contributor at an elite program such as Ohio State. But we’ll be watching to see the roles of running back J.K. Dobbins, expected to be Mike Weber’s top understudy, and defensive end Chase Young, who must battle to see any action along a talented and crowded defensive line.

4. The defensive line — And speaking of that defensive line …

The Buckeyes have eight to 10 defensive linemen who could and should be starters. Problem: They are on the same team and there’s only so many spots.

All offseason, there has been talk of Ohio State’s D-line becoming one of the best units not only this season, but for all time. Time to see whether that notion is closer to talk or reality.

5. The deep passing game — Meyer said the ability to throw deep was a huge factor in Ohio State’s 2014 national-championship season.

Last year, it was a practical non-factor in Ohio State’s attack.

Wilson is in place. Barrett has returned. A group of no-name receivers — talented, but still anonymous — is determined. Can it work?

We’re about to find out.


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