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GAMETHREAD: Indiana at Rutgers

Back on track for a bowl game, the Hoosiers have a huge opportunity to take the penultimate step on the road to six wins with a sleepy noon kickoff in Piscataway, NJ. But Indiana will be playing for more than win number-5 today. They'll look to avenge last season's meltdown, the most embarrassing Big Ten loss of Kevin Wilson's tenure.

Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

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Who? Indiana Hoosiers (4-4, #46 S&P+) at Rutger Scarlet Knights (2-6, #113 S&P+)

When? Saturday, 11/5, 12:00 PM, Piscataway, New Jersey
Channel? BTN
Vegas? INDIANA -13

S&P+ Projection? INDIANA, 34.9 - 17.0 (85%)

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From this week's game preview, this is how Kyle Swick says the Scarlet Knights look on paper (shield your eyes):

Simply put, Indiana hasn't seen an opponent this bad since they opened the year down in Miami against Florida International (119th). But in the season's final month they get two in Rutgers and Purdue (115th) sandwiched around games against Penn State (15th) and Michigan (1st). Rutgers is going through some stuff right now and it's a steep uphill climb for Chris Ash and his staff, who appear to still be getting a feel for exactly what they have and what they need.

They may have figured something out in the last game, however, benching Chris Laviano (48.3% completion rate, 4.2 YPA, 5 touchdowns, four turnovers) for Giovanni Rescigno (57.1% completion rate, 5.0 YPA, 5 total touchdowns, four turnovers) as they posted their finest offensive percentile performance of the season against Minnesota (69%, nice) after topping out at just 35% as a season high and posting no better than 24% during the conference season. The staff has had a bye week to really figure out what made the offense click against the Gophers and given that there's no one more important than the quarterback in a given offense, there's at least a decent argument that a lot of the tape and numbers that exist for Rutgers aren't as useful as they would be, given that they mostly reflect the Laviano Era.

For a team that is 127th in passing success rate and 120th in passing explosiveness, it's easy to see why a quarterback change could do a lot for the struggling Scarlet Knights. Laviano couldn't make anything happen down the field and wasn't good enough with short routes to make up for it. Rutgers is getting successful yardage less than two-thirds of the time they try and get it through the air. Rescigno is far from a revelation but he's almost a full yard better in YPA and also has the added threat of his legs. His 7.4 yards per carry and 6.5 highlight yards per opportunity (now abbreviating as HY/O) lead the active roster (senior wideout Janarion Grant is tops in both categories, but was injured for the season against Iowa). This is only across nineteen carries, but it's not nothing.

Running the ball is a relative strength for the Scarlet Knights across the board, ranking 31st overall thanks mostly to their 44th ranked success rate and certainly not their 96th explosiveness ranking. Robert Martin leads the backfield with 5.3 yards per carry, 515 yards but only one touchdown and is at risk of missing the game as he deals with an injury that kept him out against Minnesota. His 4.9 HY/O lead the running backs. His backup, Justin Goodwin does a good job of taking what he's given (4.5 yards per carry) but not much else (2.8 HY/O) with no touchdowns on the year. In fact, Rutgers only has five rushing touchdowns on the season (three of them scored by the aforementioned injured Janarion Grant), Indiana scored six rushing touchdowns last week.

Jawuan Harris and Andre Patton are the only receivers getting targeted on more than 8% of pass plays. Harris is a 5'9" freshman (251 yards, 3 touchdowns) and Patton is a 6'3" senior (271 yards, 4 touchdowns) however their catch rates (51.2%, 43.6%) and success rates (34.1%, 38.5%) are far from inspiring. Given the caliber of quarterback play they've dealt with this season, those numbers aren't particularly surprising for any receiver. A target is not necessarily going to be catchable and quarterbacks don't rack up a 48.3% completion percentage by throwing a lot of catchable balls.

Defensively, Rutgers is a tick above average against the run and a tick below average against the pass. They're susceptible to surrendering big plays in both areas which kills them overall, particularly against the pass given that their success rate (40th) is actually pretty good! They're average at getting after the passer, lead by senior Julian Pinnix-Odrick who has 4.5 sacks and 7.5 tackles for loss, leading the team in both categories. Sophomore Blessaun Austin has a Rashard Fant-ian line, with one interception and ten pass break-ups (Fant currently has one pick and 14 break-ups). The team's overall havoc rate comes in at 102nd in the country, which just won't cut it when you're 105th in the success rate against the run. Opponents are aware of that, as well, they're running the ball 69.1% of the time on standard downs and 41.2% of the time on passing downs, good for 9th and 12th in the country, respectively.

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