Indiana’s final non-conference game of the 2019 season provides an opportunity to move on from an ugly loss to Ohio State and regain confidence.
The Hoosiers followed a 52-0 win over Eastern Illinois with a 51-10 loss to Ohio State, leaving more questions than answers about the direction of the program’s 135th campaign.
IU will be at home for the third straight week and will face a Connecticut team that on paper looks like an opponent that will allows the Hoosiers to swing the pendulum back in the other direction.
CONNECTICUT (1-1) at INDIANA (2-1)
- Kickoff: Noon Eastern Time
- Location: Memorial Stadium (52,656), Bloomington, Indiana
- Television: BTN
- Series: UConn leads the series 2-0. Last meeting — 2006.
- Odds: Indiana is a 27.5 point favorite
- Weather at kickoff: 81 degrees, wind 10 mph, 0% chance of precipitation.
Tom Allen is 12-16 and now in his third full season as the head coach at Indiana.
Randy Edsall is 79-91 (.465) over his two stints at Connecticut (1999-2010, 2017-). Edsall spent five seasons as Maryland’s head coach (2011-15) and owns a 101-125 (.447) overall record.
- Allen and Edsall preview the game
- Running game and takeaways missing from IU attack
- Indiana not getting it done in the trenches
TALE OF THE TAPE
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BTN GAME PREVIEW
WHEN UCONN HAS THE FOOTBALL
Indiana’s defense has been hit or miss thus far in 2019, but the Hoosiers will have a chance to impose their will against the Huskies. With UConn 86th in passing offense, 102nd in rushing offense and 108th overall, no aspect of their attack is particularly daunting.
True freshman quarterback Jack Zergiotis is set to make his second straight start after not playing in UConn’s season opener. He completed 21-31 of his passes for 275 yards with two interceptions in his debut against Illinois two weeks ago.
Zergiotis filled in for the injured Mike Beaudry. Neither has thrown a touchdown pass in 2019.
It has been a committee approach for the UConn receivers, with four players with 5 to 7 catches and no one over 100 yards for the season.
The Husky running game is led by Kevin Mensah and Art Thompkins, who have rushed for 171 and 105 yards thus far, respectively. As a team, UConn is averaging just 2.7 yards per carry.
In the first game of the season against FCS Wagner, Mensah and Thompkins ran 53 times for 235 yards and two touchdowns. The rushing yards were much tougher to come by against Illinois when the pair ran 22 times for 41 yards and one score.
Indiana hasn’t been elite against either the run or the pass this year, with the results fluctuating wildly with the caliber of opponent. UConn isn’t Ohio State, but they aren’t Eastern Illinois either. The Huskies will move the ball, but IU appears to have the advantage here, especially in the first ever road game for Zergiotis.
WHEN INDIANA HAS THE FOOTBALL
UConn’s defense was historically bad in 2018, setting the FBS record for most points allowed per game in a season.
But a new coordinator may have things headed in the right direction. Admittedly however, the Husky defense has been a bit tough to read thus far.
In the first game of the season against Wagner, UConn only allowed 82 passing yards and no scores through the air, while allowing 103 yards and two touchdowns on the ground.
Against Illinois, on the other hand, UConn surrendered 227 passing yards and four touchdowns but only gave up 130 yards and no scores on the ground.
One thing seems certain when UConn lines up against IU’s offense. The Huskies are going to try to stack the box and force Indiana to beat them through the air. That has been the game plan by each of IU’s first three opponents, and it is especially likely if Peyton Ramsey starts. Normal starter Michael Penix has a “day-to-day” label going into the game.
Indiana’s coaches have hinted at a greater emphasis on the running game to set up more manageable third downs.
So far the Hoosiers haven’t been stout enough running the ball to stick with it, and that could be the case again on Saturday.
UConn’s secondary is young but gained valuable experience last year. The group generated a pick-six against Illinois and appear to be improved.
But IU’s veteran wide receiver group should have a clear advantage irrespective of the quarterback. The success or failure of the IU offense will likely hinge on their receivers getting separation, and the quarterback, whoever it is, making accurate throws.
It’s worth noting that UConn jumped out to a 13-0 lead over Illinois two weeks ago before falling 31-23 at East Hartford, Conn. They aren’t especially good, but the Huskies are no pushover either.
Much like last week, predicting the final score of this game requires an assumption regarding whether Penix will play.
We don’t believe the redshirt freshman from Tampa will see the field in this one. That might slow down the offense some, but the Huskies have lost 17 straight games to FBS opponents.
The Hoosiers should still be able to pull away and move to 3-1.
Note: BTN Tailgate, hosted by Dave Revsine, Gerry DiNardo, Howard Griffith and Michelle McMahon, will air live outside the west entrance of Assembly Hall from 10 a.m.-noon on Saturday.
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