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IU football: Hoosiers looking to rebound at Nebraska

Indiana jumps back into conference play this weekend with a road game at Nebraska.

The Hoosiers and Cornhuskers will face off for the first time since 2019 Saturday at Memorial Stadium in Lincoln, Nebraska.

Nebraska is, historically, a difficult road environment to play in, with a long sellout streak — this game will be the Huskers’ 386th consecutive sellout crowd. And Saturday is their homecoming game.

“I know we’re going to get their very best shot. We have to be at our very best, no question,” IU head coach Tom Allen said on Monday. “Our first road game last week, we didn’t handle the situation the way we needed to early. That gives us a chance to be able to go do that again, have the same flow, same schedule in regards to the travel piece of it.”

The Huskers’ season has been anything but smooth. They opened in Dublin by blowing a 28-17 lead to Northwestern, who escaped with a 31-28 victory. After handling FCS opponent North Dakota, the Cornhuskers then lost to Georgia Southern on a touchdown in the final minute.

That was the final blow for Scott Frost, as Nebraska fired him the next day. Associate head coach Mickey Joseph took over as interim head coach ahead of a big home game against Oklahoma — which Nebraska lost 49-13.

Nebraska’s coming off a bye week now, which gave Joseph more time to settle in as head coach and the players more time to continue adapting to the new situation.

“We gave them off Thursday, Friday and Saturday, and brought them back Sunday. So we gave them time to let the body heal,” Joseph said. “We let them get away from football and let them get together with their families. That’s the things we did just this past weekend.”

Allen didn’t notice a major difference in Nebraska’s film from the Oklahoma game than what they saw before the coaching change. But he noted there was only one game to evaluate, and that after a bye week, IU is anticipating that Nebraska’s implemented more changes and could throw some unexpected things at them.

Indiana is locking in on Nebraska’s running game. The Hoosiers kept Cincinnati quiet on the ground last week, so their run defense has momentum. The Huskers rank 35th in the country with 193.5 rush yards per game.

Junior Anthony Grant leads the way, with 116 yards per game. That mark is fifth among Big Ten rushers. Allen called Grant one of the top running backs IU will face this year.

“We are very impressed with his skill set, his vision and his toughness, his burst, strength, power and speed,” Allen said. “He has all those qualities you are looking for in a running back.”

On their own side, another thing the Hoosiers have emphasized this week is starting faster.

Indiana’s slow starts have become a big problem through the first four weeks of the season. After the Cincinnati game, Allen said he’d look at tweaking some practice routines to work on starting faster.

He elaborated on those changes later in the week. Once the team warmed up for practice, they jumped straight into a competition — whether offense against defense, position groups battling, or individual competition. Allen just knew they had to try something to get his team in the right mindset right away.

“It was segmented, controlled competition. Best on best, good on good, right away at the start of practice,” Allen said. “We did something every single day just trying to — as soon as we got our bodies warmed up — go out, compete, and get things playing at a high level. Wanted to make sure we’re locked in and focused.”

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