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The Buckeyes have won 25 straight against the Hoosiers but Indiana has pushed Ohio State to the limit lately.
After a loss to Oregon on September 11, many wrote off the Buckeyes. Ohio State (5-1) has responded with four straight wins, outscored opponents 218-57 over that span, and jumped right back into the conversation for the College Football Playoff. The Buckeyes have the top offense in the country because they are among the most balanced, ranking 8th in passing offense and 22nd in rushing offense. Redshirt freshman quarterback C.J. Stroud leads the Big Ten in passing yards per game, quarterback rating and touchdown passes. Defensively, the Buckeyes were shaky to start the year but have improved over the last three wins, surrendering just five touchdowns in those games. Ohio State has nine interceptions this year, with four returned for touchdowns.
The Hoosiers are 2-4 this year, but all four losses are to teams currently ranked in the AP top-10: Iowa, Penn State, Cincinnati and Michigan State. Indiana nearly upset Cincinnati in mid-September and came up just short last week against the Spartans. Offensively, the Hoosiers have had trouble finding consistency in 2021. Indiana ranks outside the top-80 in passing offense and rushing offense. Defense is the stronger side of the ball for the Hoosiers, where they check-in 37th overall nationally. Senior linebacker Micah McFadden is the leader of the defense and ranks second in the Big Ten with nine tackles for loss this season, including 3.5 sacks.
While some recent games in this series have been lopsided, few teams have challenged Ohio State like Indiana. The Buckeyes have had to escape with one-score wins in 2012, 2015 and 2020. Is this the year the Hoosiers finally finish the job?
College GameDay heads to Pasadena where the Ducks will battle the Bruins. UCLA’s last win over a top-10 team at home was against Oregon in 2007.
The Ducks (5-1) bounced back from a week five loss to Stanford with a victory over Cal last week. Oregon rallied late to beat the Bears and will look to take that momentum into the Rose Bowl against UCLA. The Ducks are one of just two teams in the country to rush for at least 180 yards in each game this season, but Oregon will be without leading rusher junior CJ Verdell, who is out for the season due to injury. They instead will rely on junior running back Travis Dye, who ran for 145 yards and led the team with seven catches for 73 yards in the win over Cal. The Ducks defense features one of the biggest game-wreckers in college football in junior linebacker Kayvon Thibodeaux. The 2020 All-American has 14 sacks and 26.5 tackles for loss in 24 career games.
At 5-2, the Bruins are just one win away from becoming bowl eligible for the first time since 2017. UCLA picked up wins in their last two weeks against Arizona and Washington to carry some energy into the biggest game of their season thus far. The Bruins offense has out-rushed its opponent in 13 consecutive games and has racked up a 1,539-to-638 rushing yards edge on opponents in 2021. To pair with their ground dominance, quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson leads the Pac-12 in yards per completion and points responsible for with 108. UCLA has also committed to stopping the run on defense and has held four of their seven opponents under 100 rushing yards.
Could Chip Kelley come up with an upset victory over his old team? This could prove to be the program-turning win for the Bruins. On the other side, the Ducks are the Pac-12’s final hope for the College Football Playoff, but they likely need to win out for a chance to finish in the top-four.
The jeweled Shillelagh is one of the most unique trophies in college football and historically one of the most heralded matchups in college football history.
USC is in the midst of a tough season but are undefeated on the road in 2021. The Trojans (3-3) have alternated wins and losses this year and lost their last game against Utah, so they could be due for a win. Despite injuries at quarterback, USC junior wide receiver Drake London has emerged as one of the best pass catchers in America. London leads the Pac-12 and is second in the country in both catches and receiving yards. On defense, the Trojans feature one of the nation’s most dominant pass rushers in junior Drake Jackson, who has filled the stat sheet this season with 18 tackles, four tackles for loss, three sacks, one forced fumble, one fumble recovered, and an interception.
Notre Dame is 5-1 this season and ranked No. 13 in both the AP and Coaches Polls. The Irish have been particularly good against teams outside the top-25, with 36 straight wins against unranked teams dating back to 2016, the longest current streak in the country. Notre Dame has played three different quarterbacks this fall, but sophomore tight end Michael Mayer has excelled with anyone under center, leading the team in catches and yards. The Irish defense has excelled at forcing turnovers in 2021, with 10 interceptions and 14 takeaways overall. Seven different Notre Dame players have recorded an interception this season.
The Irish have won three in a row in this series and four straight in South Bend. If USC wants to buck that trend, the Trojans will have to get consistent pressure on whoever is playing quarterback for the Irish. For Notre Dame, the key will be continuing to force turnovers.