Quick -- name the Big Ten program that houses both the conference's leading rusher and leading receiver through two weeks of the season.
Is it Ohio State? The defending national champions and unanimous title favorites with two Heisman contenders in Ezekiel Elliott and Braxton Miller? Nope.
Is it Michigan State? A year-in, year-out top ten program that just out-dueled the nation's most dynamic offense over the last ten years on Saturday? Nope.
It's Indiana. And the Hoosiers are doing it with at least one name, maybe two, that might not be all that familiar to those across the conference.
Most everyone -- or at least those following Indiana football -- know the story of Jordan Howard.
The Alabama native was rendered program-homeless when incompetent nutsack & UAB President Ray Watts killed Blazers' football program after last season because the program was allegedly costing the University of Alabama System loads of cash. Of course, since Ray Watts is an incompetent nutsack, this was a lie uncovered by a number of groups, and the program has already been reinstated. Still, it left Howard without a place to play in the meantime -- and Kevin Wilson and Indiana, in need of a lead back, welcomed him with open arms.
It was an unfortunate situation for the Gardendale, Alabama native -- who was able to play UAB home games at Legion Field just a 18 minute drive from his hometown. But the folding of the Blazers' program is quickly turning into a blessing in disguise for Howard. The junior back is already leading the Big Ten in rushing -- averaging 152 yards an outing over the first two weeks of the season. And while he might not be bringing the home-run hitting ability of man he replaced, he's still ripping off plenty of big gainers -- he leads the conference in yards per carry, too among those receiving 20 or more carries so far.
Paired with Sudfeld, Howard creates for one of the Big Ten's most dangerous backfield. But it's a partnership at Indiana that could pay off for the former Blazer in the form of NFL paychecks soon, too. Pro scouts have already seen that Indiana is quite adept at producing pro talent at the offensive side of the ball -- especially at running back. If Howard can keep up his pace, it's not unreasonable to think that he might want to ask for feedback from NFL teams following the season.
But Howard was the still the hyped savior coming to replace a demigod in Coleman. His path couldn't be more opposite from Ricky Jones.
Jones, the undersized junior out of Sarasota, has had to wait for his time at Indiana. The 5'10" wideout redshirted in 2012 and only saw the field late in 3 games in 2013. His role increased greatly in 2014, but that's only a testament to how far outside the two-deep Jones resided in his first two years in Bloomington. He played in every contest, but only managed 3 receptions on the season. Even coming in to the season, most Hoosier fans didn't have Jones pegged as the breakout star on the outside. Expectations were far higher for bigger targets Simmie Cobbs, Dominique Booth, Marqui Hawkins, and the now-ineligible Camion Patrick. Save Cobbs, those expectations haven't panned out yet -- and it was imperative for another target to step up for Indiana's offense to be able to move the ball downfield.
Enter, Ricky Jones.
The injury to J-Shun Harris in the spring provided Jones the opportunity rise up as a smaller passcatcher with pace -- and he hasn't disappointed. Now, through two games, he's already more than quadrupled his career reception yardage and solidified himself as Indiana's big play threat on the outside. He's leading the Big Ten in receiving yardage -- and sits in the top 10 nationally. If he can keep up that pace, expect the wins to keep rolling in for the Hoosiers.
Stats are stats -- and they're often overinflated to start a season. But if Jones & Howard can keep up the pace, they'll be the perfect combination to compliment Nate Sudfeld and lead Indiana's offense to success through the 2015 season.