Elliott, late goal-line stand rescue No. 1 Buckeyes
OHIO STATE 34, INDIANA 27
bloomington, ind. — When everything else fizzled Saturday for Ohio State, Coach Urban Meyer put the ball in Ezekiel Elliott’s trusted hands.
He saved the game — and perhaps the Buck eyes’ title hopes, too.
The junior running back got a sluggish offense going with second-half touchdown runs of 55, 65 and 75 yards, and Eli Apple batted away a desperation pass in the end zone as time expired to preserve No. 1 Ohio State’s 34-27 victory over Indiana.
The Buckeyes have won 18 straight games and 15 in a row on the road, both the longest active streaks in the Football Bowl Subdivision, but the style points could cost them in the next poll.
“Look across the country and every day you better play,” Meyer said. “You better play.”
Ohio State (5-0, 1-0 Big Ten) learned the hard way.
The defending national champs fumbled four times, losing two of them. Cardale Jones threw away a scoring chance when he was picked off inside the Indiana 15-yard line. The Buckeyes had eight major penalties, the offense couldn’t score touchdowns in the red zone and the team’s normally stout defense couldn’t put it away.
But Elliott rallied everyone.
His first two scoring runs erased Indiana leads, and his third appeared to give the Buckeyes a seemingly safe 34-20 lead early in the fourth quarter.
The Buckeyes extended their Big Ten regular season winning streak to 25, barely, and will now wait to see whether they can match Oklahoma’s record for most weeks (101) at No. 1 in the Associated Press poll.
“Coach Meyer made an emphasis that big plays are going to spark the team, and I knew we needed big plays,” Elliott said after his 10th straight 100-yard game. “The O-line did a great job blocking, and they made it easy for me.” It was a game full or surprises. Indiana (4-1,0-1) gambled twice on fourth down in the first half — including a fake punt from its 16-yard line that failed. Elliott turned the game open with the 65-yard run on fourth and one in the third quarter.
The teams combined for four scoring runs — three from Elliott — that went for more than 50 yards during a 13-minute stretch in the second half.
Ohio State also lost wide receiver Corey Smith, who was carted off the field with what appeared to be a lower right leg injury.
The Hoosiers, who have not beaten the Buckeyes since 1988, made life miserable despite losing the nation’s top rusher, Jordan Howard, in the first half and starting quarterback, Nate Sudfeld, in the third quarter. Both had left ankle injuries.
Ohio State defensive back Vonn Bell defends a pass intended for Indiana tight end Jordan Fuchs on theHoosiers’ failed final drive.