Watch the Picture
Who? Indiana Hoosiers (3-2, #45 S&P+) at #10 Nebraska Cornhuskers (5-0, #24 S&P+)
When? Saturday, 10/15, 3:30 PM, Bloomington, Indiana
Channel? ABC / ESPN2
Vegas? INDIANA +3.5
S&P+ Projection? NEBRASKA, 30.7 - 27.8 (57%)
Listen to Fischer
From the Game Preview:
The first glance at the Five Factors shows teams that clock in rather similarly on defense, with the Huskers just one spot behind the Hoosiers overall. That said, both teams get to that number in different ways. While Indiana is driven primarily by their ability to keep teams off-schedule, Nebraska's defensive effort is fueled by tightening up once their opponent's get in scoring position and an excellent turnover margin. They're also a team that has some egregious splits throughout their statistical profile. Their passing defense is ranked 53rd, but that's comprised of a unit that ranks 85th in efficiency and 11th in explosiveness, while also being pretty pedestrian at sacking the quarterback. So while Nebraska does a good job of preventing big plays through the air, they too often allow themselves to be nickel-and-dimed by opposing passing games.
On the ground, it's practically the opposite. They're pretty good, efficiency-wise (47th), but are a woeful 122nd when it comes to explosiveness. An Indiana team that has struggled to run the ball in recent weeks could be just what the doctor ordered for the 71st ranked rushing defense. Likewise, a team ranked 15th when it comes to preventing points inside their 40-yard line is likely looking forward to facing an offense that ranks close to dead last when it comes to scoring in the same situation.
Offensively, the Huskers have been effective albeit quite a bit banged up coming out of the bye week. Quarterback Tommy Armstrong (1151 yards, 9 TDs, 2 INTs, 58.9%) leads a passing offense that is ranked 16th overall but just got out of a walking boot after suffering a minor ankle injury. Jordan Westerkamp, his leading receiver in targets, catches, and touchdowns is set to miss the game with his own injury along with Cethan Carter, a senior tight end that is fourth on the team in targets and yards is also likely to miss Saturday's tilt. Worse yet, the Huskers leader in rushing attempts, Devine Ozigbo, also has failed to practice this week and will likely force a potential DEVINE SHOWDOWN between himself and Devine Redding to be postponed, probably forever.
That means the lion's share of the carries are going to go to Terrell Newby, who has managed nine more yards on seventeen less carries than Ozigbo this season, thanks largely to their large difference in highlight yards (5.3 per opportunity for Newby, 1.9 for Ozigbo.) Newby is a much a greater threat in the open field, and possibly overall, than Ozigbo, who is much more in the mold of the old-school bruiser at 6'0", 230.
Indiana can't lose contain on Armstrong, either. He's averaging 6.4 highlight yards per opportunity himself, and leads the team in rushing touchdowns. He's a legitimate two-way threat that should have Indiana's full attention, especially after they surrendered 137 yards to J.T. Barrett last weekend.