Week two of the 2018 Indiana University football season is upon us as the Hoosiers open the new and improved Memorial Stadium on Saturday night. For the first time since the stadium opened nearly 60 years ago, it will be fully enclosed due to the completion of the south end zone project,
While the new south end zone structure does not add additional seating, it adds a massive video board, a number of health and wellness facilities for student athletes, and a completely different game day feel.
Photo Credit Indiana University Athletics
VIRGINIA (1-0) at INDIANA (1-0)
- Kickoff: 7:30 Eastern Time
- Location: Memorial Stadium, Bloomington, Indiana
- Television: BTN
- Series: Virginia leads the all-time series 2-1.
- Odds: Indiana is a 6.5 point favorite.
Third year UVA head coach Bronco Mendenhall was able to improve the program by four wins from his first season and never had a losing campaign in 11 seasons at BYU, After leading the team to a bowl game in year two, he seems to have the program heading in the right direction.
Mendenhall is 9-17 at Virginia and 108-60 for his 14 year head coaching career.
WHEN VIRGINIA HAS THE BALL
The Cavaliers feature a much more dynamic offense in 2018 behind new quarterback Bryce Perkins. The junior college transfer is a dual-threat and put up 2 rushing and 2 passing touchdowns in UVA’s week one win over Richmond.
While Perkins can pass the ball, he isn’t regarded as an exceptionally accurate or complete passer. He was just 13 for 24 against Richmond and threw an interception early in the game.
Virginia features an experienced returning running back in Jordan Ellis. He started every game last year and ran for 146 yards and 7.3 yards per carry in week one.
Olamide Zaccheaus is an experienced H-Back that led UVA in receptions last year and had six catches for 101 yards and a touchdown in week one. He is also a threat to run the ball.
The game plan against Virginia seems clear. The Hoosiers will need to stack the box and force Perkins to beat them over the top. With heavy rain in the forecast, this may prove especially challenging for Virginia. IU’s front seven on defense is probably the weakness of the team right now, so its ability to control the line of scrimmage and stop the run will be critical.
Look for the Hoosier to put a “spy” on Perkins when he looks to run. That seems like an ideal role for a player like Marcelino Ball.
WHEN INDIANA HAS THE BALL
Indiana flashed a dynamic passing game in week one behind Peyton Ramsey and Michael Penix. The quarterbacks combined to go 28 of 37 for 252 yards and four touchdowns in the win over FIU. IU features a nice group of talented receivers including rising stars Donavan Hale and Ty Fryfogle to go along with experienced leaders in Nick Westbrook, Whop Philyor and Luke Timian.
The strength of the Virginia defense is the secondary, so it will be a big test for the Hoosier passing attack. The weather conditions could further complicate things and put an emphasis on short passes. That might lend itself to IU dialing up a bigger role for dynamic freshman Reese Taylor in the open field.
Overall, the Virginia defense is expected to be good this year, and improved over an already respectable 2017 unit. While the defensive line is being rebuilt somewhat, the back eight are experienced and talented. UVA returned 72% of its production on defense from last year and it didn’t allow a touchdown against FBS opponent Richmond last week.
The strength of the Indiana team is its offensive line, which returned two-deep experience at every position. It will need to impose its will on the UVA defensive iine. The Hoosier running attack his been hit by injuries, transfers and suspensions, including the loss of former starters Morgan Ellison and Cole Gest in the last few weeks.
Interestingly, two running backs expected to see action are from Virginia. Senior Mike Majette is the likely starter on Saturday night, and true freshman Ronnie Walker, Jr. is likely to play for the first time as well. True freshman Stevie Scott carried a big load in week one, and that trend should continue.
In our opinion, the weather is a real equalizer here. With Flash Flood Watches in effect and 4-6 inches of rain predicted, Virginia seems to gain an advantage if the forecast holds. While IU would have liked to spread things out and leverage its passing attack, heavy rains could thwart those plans. Similar to Indiana’s defensive plan, UVA may be able to crowd the line and force IU to beat them with the run.
Much like last week against FIU, a score from the defense or special teams may turn the tide in this one as both teams grind it out. Depending on how bad the conditions are, there could be an abundance of miscues that could change the course of the game.
With passing games held in check due to the weather, scoring will be at a premium on Saturday night. For the second week in a row, IU gets a score (literally a splash play on this rainy night) from either its defense or special teams and pulls out another close one.
VIRGINIA – 14
INDIANA – 21
You can follow us on Twitter: @daily_hoosier