According to vegasinsider.com, the opening line listed Indiana as 13 point favorites when they visit Rutgers this Saturday at noon. The Hoosiers are 4-4 overall and 2-3 in Big Ten play this season. They are coming off a 42-36 victory over Maryland (5-3; 2-3) last weekend at home, their highest point total of the season. Indiana ended a three game losing streak in which they only scored an average of 18 points per game in falling to Ohio State, Nebraska, and Northwestern. However, against Maryland they put up 650 total yards of offense, including 414 yards with the run game. They averaged an eye popping 7.3 yards per carry on the ground and had three different players run for over 100 yards. Indiana also produced 34 first downs in the game.
Of course, their defense struggled, allowing Maryland to gain 517 yards of total offense and 29 first downs. The difference in the game was Maryland committed two turnovers while Indiana had zero. Turnovers have been an issue for Rutgers all season, so keeping them to a minimum will be key to having any chance in winning the game against Indiana.
Aside from the Vegas line, ESPN’s matchup predictor lists Indiana’s chances of winning the game at 66.9%. Rutgers advanced statistics profile on Football Study Hall give Rutgers an 18% chance of beating the Hoosiers on Saturday. In terms of S&P+ ranking for the season, Indiana is ranked 47th and Rutgers is ranked 116th.
The bottom line is Rutgers are big underdogs at home against Indiana. There were encouraging signs of progress in their last game, a 33-32 loss on the road to Minnesota (6-2; 3-2). Gio Rescigno showed his versatility in running and passing the football, as well as his playmaking ability and toughness. The team battled back from a 21-3 deficit in the 1st quarter to take a lead late in the 4th quarter, only to surrender a last second field goal that lost the game. Also, the best offensive player on the team, running back Robert Martin, didn’t play in the game.
Coming off the bye week, there is hope Rutgers has healed up and is ready to perform better in the month of November. They will need a complete performance on Saturday and show improvement in all areas, especially with special teams. Hopefully, the offense is even more efficient after a full two weeks of practice with Gio as the starting quarterback and Martin expected to return. However, if the defense can’t slow down the Indiana offense, it could be another long fall afternoon on the banks.
Indiana is third in total offense in the Big Ten, trailing only Ohio State and Michigan. If Rutgers is to win a third straight season against the Hoosiers, it will be because the defense had their best game of the year. It will take a major turnaround to do so. However, anything can happen in college football and Rutgers has had Indiana’s number since joining the Big Ten. They are 2-0 against the Hoosiers, winning 45-23 in 2014 and last year coming from behind down 25 points to win 55-52 on the road. Let’s hope for Rutgers best performance of the season on Saturday, resulting in their third straight win over Indiana. One thing is clear though, the odds are strongly against it from happening.
For this week’s depth chart and injury updates, click here.