COLUMBUS -- C.J. Stroud threw five touchdown passes as No. 2 Ohio State dispatched Indiana 56-14 on Saturday afternoon at Ohio Stadium.
With the Buckeyes heavily favored, the outcome was less a question than the health of Ryan Day’s team when it was over.
Right tackle Dawand Jones, running backs TreVeyon Henderson and Chip Trayanum and cornerback Denzel Burke did not play, and receiver Emeka Egbuka and running back Miyan Williams did not finish the game.
Without specifying what ailed any of those players, Day said he was optimistic none would be out long-term and that Jones, Henderson, Burke and Trayanum could all be available for the trip to Maryland next week.
“We’ll kind of see tomorrow how it all goes, but it’s this time of year so guys are gonna be banged up,” Day said. “It’s just the way it goes, but you know, there were a lot of guys who played banged up today. A lot. These guys just didn’t feel like they were ready to go play, and certainly we’re not going to put them in the game if they don’t feel like they can play, but we’re looking hopefully to get a full week of work out of them, and I hope to see them play against Maryland.”
As for the game itself, Buckeyes struck first on a 6-yard pass from Stroud to Emeka Egbuka and again on their next possession when Dallan Hayden scampered in from 14 yards out to cap an eight-play, 78-yard drive that took 3:37 off the clock.
They needed only one play the next time they got the ball as Stroud found Marvin Harrison Jr. running behind the defense for a 58-yard score.
Indiana looked like a threat to be knocked out early, but the Hoosiers bounced back with a 75-yard touchdown drive that included a 49-yard pass from Dexter Williams II to Andison Coby, who split Ohio State’s defensive backs and was wide open down the middle of the field.
Three plays later, Williams lobbed a fade pass into the end zone for AJ Barner, who out-fought Cam Brown for the ball and the 7-yard touchdown.
The Buckeyes got that score back when Miyan Williams took a handoff over right guard and slashed through a hole for a 48-yard touchdown with about 10 minutes left in the second quarter.
Williams ran for 147 yards in the first half, but he had to be helped off the field late in the second quarter after suffering an apparent injury. He tried to walk off on his own power but ultimately needed help from two members of the Ohio State staff while putting no weight on his right foot. He left the field on a cart.
That left Hayden as the only healthy scholarship running back.
Ohio State’s special teams set up the first score of the second half as Lathan Ransom blocked a punt that was recovered by Xavier Johnson at the Indiana 2-yard line.
Two plays later, Stroud faked a handoff then found tight end Cade Stover wide open in the end zone for a touchdown.
Those two hooked up again on the next Ohio State possession, though this time the tight end had to do a little more work. He faked a block, came across the formation and caught a pass in the flat then had to dodge a tackler before stretching the ball into the end zone for a 12-yard score.
The Buckeyes tacked on another touchdown early in the fourth quarter when Johnson took a handoff going to his left, cut back all the way to the right sideline then zagged to the left hashmark while dodging defenders for a 71-yard score.
A former walk-on who played running back before moving to receiver, Johnson also caught two passes for 58 yards and returned two kicks for 51 yards while Hayden tallied 102 yards on 19 carries.
“I think both of those guys showed they can do the job,” Day said. “It’s pretty remarkable we have so many guys who are capable, but whether it’s Tre, Miyan or Chip we’re hoping to get all of these guys back as soon as we can. It’s been frustrating obviously not having a full-strength room there, but I guess the positive aspect is we’ve been able to keep that going.”
Ohio State finished the scoring with the most sentimental touchdown of the day, an 8-yard pass from Stroud to Kam Babb. Not only was it Babb’s first college catch, it marked a major milestone for a senior who is a two-time captain but has barely been able to see the field because of multiple knee injuries.
Babb’s teammates mobbed him in the end zone after the play, and Day called the moment what college football is all about.
Dexter Williams ended up playing most of the game for the Hoosiers, but Alter grad Connor Bazelak started at quarterback and completed three of five passes for 12 yards. He missed the previous game because of injury.
Williams ended up 6-for-19 passing for 107 yards and two touchdowns while running for 46 yards.
Stroud threw for 297 yards while his top target was Harrison, who had 135 yards on seven receptions.
Ohio State at Maryland, TBA, 1410