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Rutgers Football: Five Reasons For Both Optimism & Pessimism Against Indiana

NCAA Football: Indiana at Rutgers Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

At A Glance: Rutgers At Indiana

Who: Rutgers 4-6 (3-4 Big Ten East) vs. Indiana 4-6 (1-6 Big Ten East)

Where: Memorial Stadium, Bloomington, IN

When: 12:00 ET airing live on BTN

Opening Line: Indiana -11

Five Reasons Rutgers Will Win

  • Simply put, Rutgers is a better team based on its record. The Knights have won 3 conference games while Indiana has notched just one and Rutgers won its matchup with Maryland, a team Indiana couldn’t beat.

  • Rutgers has shown it can defend the run. The Knights held Saquon Barkley to 35 yards this past week, and in a game in which Rutgers had “similar talent” to its opponent, Rutgers held Maryland’s two running backs under 100 yards.

  • Indiana averages 117 yards on the ground and if Rutgers can keep Indiana behind the chains, they should be able to dictate terms on the defensive side of the ball.

  • Rutgers has shown an ability to turn its opponents over - particularly intercepting the ball. Indiana has already thrown 11 interceptions in 2017.

  • Rutgers can run the ball, and Indiana can’t defend the run. Ohio State rushed for close to 300 yards against Indiana and if you are thinking, ok, that’s Ohio State, Maryland rushed for 174 against the Hoosiers.

(Editor’s note: We originally referenced Georgia Southern rushing for 134 yards as a negative towards the Indiana rush defense, but failed to account for them running a triple option offense and have since edited.)

Five Reasons Indiana Will Win

  • Yes, right now Rutgers is technically the better team in terms of its record, but Indiana has had a more difficult Big Ten slate. They did just beat Illinois, have not yet played Purdue and its loss against Maryland could have gone either way - very much like Rutgers win vs. Maryland, which could have easily been a loss.

  • Rutgers is still the team that lost at home to Eastern Michigan. Yes, the Knights are vastly improved since that horrible display in September vs. the Eagles, but it is still illustrative that although the Knights are better than they were, they are still playing short on talent.

  • Rutgers has struggled all season passing the ball. Although Gio Recigno has provided some offense with his arm and legs for Rutgers since he took over at quarterback for the Scarlet Knights, he has been an inconsistent performer for RU in terms of passing. He still completes just 47% of his passes.

  • Indiana has proved it can score against any opponent. Indiana scored 20 against Michigan and only lost by 7, put up 21 against Ohio State (OSU shutout Rutgers), and 17 against Wisconsin. The only team that held Indiana under 10 was Michigan State.

  • Although Rutgers has defended the run well, it has shown the propensity to give up the big play, and Indiana is capable of breaking the big play with its offense. Runners have broken plays of 26, 34 and 42 yard runs and both Indiana QBs, Richard Lagow and Peyton Ramsey have hit big passes; Lagow hit a 71 yard pass and Ramsey a 45-yarder.

Bottom Line

Indiana is coming off its first Big Ten win of 2017, a 24-14 triumph over Illinois and we know what a confidence boost that can be. Rutgers is a confident team as well and Rutgers strength is running the ball which is one of Indiana’s weakness. This game could go either way.