FACTS & STATS: Site: High Point Solutions Stadium (52,454) — Piscataway, New
Jersey. Television: Big Ten Network. Home Record: Indiana 2-3, Rutgers 3-2.
Away Record: Indiana 1-3, Rutgers 2-2. Neutral Record: Indiana 0-0, Rutgers
0-0. Conference Record: Indiana 0-5, Rutgers 1-4. Series Record: First-ever
GAME NOTES: The Indiana Hoosiers are set for their first-ever meeting with the
Rutgers Scarlet Knights on Saturday afternoon when the two teams square off in
a Big Ten Conference tilt at High Point Solutions Stadium.
Rutgers, playing its first season as a member of the Big Ten, remains one win
away from becoming bowl eligible for the ninth time in 10 years. The Scarlet
Knights have been stuck on win No. 5 thanks to three straight lopsided losses,
the most recent of which being a 37-0 home shutout at the hands of Wisconsin
two weeks ago. They had a chance to regroup with a bye last weekend, and this
marks the team’s final home game before wrapping up the regular season with
back-to-back road games at Michigan State and at Maryland.
Indiana has lost four in a row and remains in search of its first conference
victory of the season. The Hoosiers hosted Penn State last weekend and came
away with a 13-7 setback. On a positive note, the 13 points allowed were their
fewest in a Big Ten game since 2005.
Indiana’s Tevin Coleman entered the game against Penn State as the nation’s
leading rusher, averaging 162.5 ypg. But Coleman and the Hoosiers’ offensive
line ran into a buzzsaw in Penn State’s top-ranked run defense, which bottled
up the junior back to a season-low 71 yards on 20 carries. It was the first
time in 11 games that Coleman failed to eclipse 100 yards on the ground.
Understandably, the Nittany Lions’ game plan was to stack the box and force
true freshman quarterback Zander Diamont to beat them. Diamont did not, as the
Hoosiers failed to register an offensive touchdown. In three starts since
taking over for injured starter Nate Sudfeld, Diamont has completed a total of
only 23-of-50 passes for 103 yards with no touchdowns and two interceptions,
both of which came last week.
Indiana’s defense notched 11 tackles for loss and five sacks against Penn
State, and two of those sacks came during a fourth-quarter drive with the
outcome still hanging in the balance. The Hoosiers defense was strong from the
outset, holding the Nittany Lions scoreless through one quarter and then
coming up with a goal line stand followed by a blocked field goal attempt in
the second. On the next series, safety Mark Murphy returned an interception 47
yards for a touchdown to put IU on top, 7-0. However, that momentum was
thwarted on Penn State’s very next play from scrimmage, which resulted in a
92-yard touchdown run through a wide open lane. With the Hoosiers offense
scuffling, the long TD breathed just enough life into the Nittany Lions.
The Scarlet Knights’ bye week came at an opportune time, considering they had
just been blanked on their home field after consecutive blowout losses on the
road. It marked the first time Rutgers was shut out at home since 2002.
Weather was a factor, although not for Wisconsin’s run game which churned out
nearly 300 yards. In contrast, the Scarlet Knights could muster only eight
first downs and 139 total yards for the game. They converted only 3-of-15
third downs and never ventured so far as the red zone, an area where the team
has scored on 23 of 26 trips this season. As a result, Wisconsin won the time
of possession battle by more than 10 minutes.
This will be the third straight game that Rutgers defense faces one of college
football’s most dangerous running backs. Two games ago it was Nebraska’s Ameer
Abdullah (138.9 ypg, 17 TDs), the nation’s sixth-leading rusher, who had 225
yards and three touchdowns on 19 carries for an average of nearly 12 yards a
pop. That was followed by a date with Wisconsin’s Melvin Gordon (166.8, 19
TDs), the nation’s top rusher, who posted 128 yards and two touchdowns on 19
carries, while teammate Corey Clement also gashed the Scarlet Knights for 131
yards and two scores on 14 totes. Make no mistake: the Rutgers defense will
get a heavy dose of Coleman in this one.
Kyle Flood needs to win one of his team’s final three games to become the
first coach in school history to lead Rutgers to bowl eligibility in each of
his first three seasons as head coach. After (unsuccessfully) navigating their
toughest stretch of the schedule, the Scarlet Knights have a good shot at
getting back into the win column this weekend against a struggling Indiana
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Rutgers 42, Indiana 22