When: Sat. Nov. 5, 2016; Noon ET
Where: Piscataway, NJ; High Point Solutions Stadium (52,454)
All-Time Series: Rutgers leads 2-0
Last Meeting: Rutgers won 55-52 (last year)
Line: Indiana (-14)
This game means much more to Indiana than Rutgers. The Scarlet Knights would like to build towards something, anything … to get the program turned in the right direction, but the Hoosiers still have hopes of going bowling.
It’s only the second ever meeting for these two, and surprisingly Indiana has yet to notch a win despite the offensive fireworks it’s been able to launch the last couple of years.
Rutgers actually came to the stadium with a pulse two weeks ago and gave the Minnesota Golden Gophers a run for their money. But in the end, new head coach Chris Ash is still winless in the conference. It’s about pride in this one, but it’s also about more.
1 Burning Question: Can Rutgers find a way to beat Indiana for Ash’s first Big Ten win?
With the current state of the Rutgers program, there’s only so many real opportunities to walk off the field as a winner. This week would be one of those weeks.
Indiana has been solid at times this year, but it has also left the door open consistently against teams that it should beat. The offense has moved the ball but had problems finishing the deal and getting seven on the scoreboard. And while the defense has been much improved, it’s still just a middle of the pack defense. It hasn’t been quite enough in the grand scheme of things.
So here comes a Rutgers team that is coming off one of its most complete showings two weeks ago in a near miss versus a Minnesota team playing on the upswing. Will the bye week help any more, or was the improvement that we saw fool’s gold?
2 Key Stats
— 168.6: That’s the number of passing yards per game the Rutgers defense is giving up. For all the troubles in Piscataway this year, the passing defense has been great. It’s the one area the defense can hang its hat on, and it might be something to keep this game close. Indiana is at it’s best when it can open up the play book, but it may have to rely mostly on the run in this one.
— .719: That’s the percentage of red zone opportunities the Hoosiers are scoring on in 2016. That’s not good, and in fact there’s only three teams with a worse percentage. If Indiana still has designs of getting to a bowl game, it has to step on the throat of Rutgers when it gets the chance. Not converting in the red zone flies right in the race of that notion.
3 Key Players
–Devine Redding, Indiana RB: Redding has been solid this year but has been unable to really get crankin’ like he was expected to this year. Against a defense that’s stingy with the air assault, Redding must find a way to move the chains and get the tough yards.
–Gio Rescigno, QB Rutgers: He’s gone from scout team quarterback to the starter under center in a flash. And the team seemed to rally around Rescigno two weeks ago — almost pulling off a big upset against Minnesota. He won’t catch anyone by surprise going forward, but he does seem to be just a little more dynamic than what was happening with Laviano calling the shots. He now gets start number two to cut down on the turnovers and prove that he’s the answer going forward.
–Robert Martin, RB Rutgers: Martin has been the Scarlet Knights’ best offensive option through most of the season. That was before a two-week hiatus because of missing the game against Minnesota, and then the bye-week. For Rutgers to continue its improvement and possibly get a win, it’ll need a balanced attack against a Hoosier defense that has been much more productive against one-dimensional offenses. Look no further than Martin to provide the spark on the ground to open things up through the air.
4 Staff Predictions
Andy: Indiana 38-10
Dave: Indiana 27-17
Phil H.: Indiana 27-20
Philip R-R.: Indiana 38-14
Zach: Indiana 31-13