Indiana returns to action after a bye week, and waiting for them is a team that appears to be in complete disarray.
Rutgers fired its head coach two weeks ago and his since seen personnel issues all while losing their last four games by an average score of 40-6.
IU isn’t in a position to take any opponent lightly, but Saturday’s matchup with the Scarlet Knights should be about as easy as it gets — at least by Big Ten standards.
RUTGERS (1-4, 0-3) at INDIANA (3-2, 0-2)
- Kickoff: Noon Eastern Time
- Location: Memorial Stadium (52,656), Bloomington, Indiana
- Television: BTN
- Series: IU leads the series 3-2.
- Odds: Indiana is a 27.5 point favorite
- Weather at kickoff: 48 degrees, wind 8 mph, 0% chance of precipitation.
Tom Allen is 13-17 and now in his third full season as the head coach at Indiana.
Nunzio Campanile became Rutgers’ interim head coach on September 29 after Chris Ash was fired.
- Tom Allen previews the game
- Rutgers’ coaches preview the game
- Tiawan Mullen standing out as true freshman corner
TALE OF THE TAPE
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BTN GAME PREVIEW
WHEN RUTGERS HAS THE FOOTBALL
The story with Rutgers’ offense is as much about who is not playing on Saturday as who is.
Soon after former head coach Chris Ash was fired, starting quarterback Artur Sitkowski and running back Raheem Blackshear both requested to redshirt prior to playing in their fifth game.
Sitkowski was 44-of-68 with 429 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions.
Blackshear had 88 yards rushing on 29 carries and 29 receptions for 310 yards and two touchdowns through four games this year. He was the Scarlet Knights’ leading receiver.
Rutgers was forced to turn to third stringer Johnny Langan at quarterback last weekend against Maryland. The freshman completed just 13-of-25 passes for 163 yards and two interceptions. At this point Langan might be a bigger threat as a runner in a newly installed run-pass-option scheme. He added 19 carries for 59 yards and a touchdown against the Terrapins.
Rutgers primary threat on offense right now is running back Isaih Pacheco. The sophomore has 75 carries for 340 yards (4.5 yards per carry).
Bo Melton is Rutgers’ top receiver with 15 catches for 256 yards and a touchdown.
The bottom line here is that Rutgers’ offense has gone from bad to worse with the quarterback change and IU will likely look to force the Scarlet Knights to beat them through the air.
Averaging an FBS worst 14.2 points per game with just 23 points in the last four weeks, it is difficult to imagine that Rutgers will be able to score enough points to keep this close.
WHEN INDIANA HAS THE FOOTBALL
All eyes will be on IU quarterback Michael Penix after his impressive return from injury against Michigan State.
Penix completed 33-of-42 passes for 286 yards and three touchdowns and added a fourth touchdown on the ground against the Spartans.
So far the game plan against IU has been to stack the box and force the Hoosiers to win through the air. That strategy might start to change if Penix continues his strong play. The redshirt sophomore was able to use the passing game as a defacto running attack as he carved up MSU with short passes and completed enough balls down the field to keep the defense honest..
Rutgers has been equally bad against the run and pass so it may not matter much which way they try to stop the Hoosiers. While the Scarlet Knights are only giving up 229 passing yards a game (74th nationally), that number is largely influenced by four straight lopsided games that saw Rutgers’ opposition focus on the running game throughout much of the second half.
With Rutgers giving up 40 points a game over their last four, and Penix leading IU to 31 on the road against a stout Michigan State defense, points shouldn’t be hard to come by in this one for the Hoosiers if they don’t make mistakes.
The bottom line — this should be a tune up game. The final tune up game before six straight challenging contests to close out the season.
On paper this one has the same look and feel as the UConn game three weeks ago.
Similar to the outcome against the Huskies, the Hoosiers should cruise to a homecoming victory and earn their fourth win of the season and fourth straight over Rutgers.
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