Game Info / How to Watch
Where? Memorial Stadium, Lincoln, Nebraska
When? Saturday, Oct. 26, 3:30 p.m.
Vegas? Nebraska -1.5
SP+ Projection? Indiana by 8 (34-26), 68 percent chance of Hoosier victory
The Indiana University football team will play for bowl eligibility on Saturday, Oct. 26. That’s not something that a lot of people would have believed coming into the season, yet here we are. After last week’s win over Maryland the Hoosiers sit at 5-2 on the season and they’re primed to go bowling for the first time since 2016. In fact, they’re primed to do a bit more than just win the six games necessary to play in a bowl game.
The Cornhuskers came into this season with a lot of hype as Scott Frost began his second season as the team’s head coach and quarterback Adrian Martinez began his second season under center. They were a darling dark-horse pick to win the Big Ten West, but that went by the wayside quickly. In week two they lost in overtime on the road against Colorado. They won their next two heading into a primetime showdown against Ohio State. Despite all the hype they didn’t put up much of a fight, losing 48-7 to the Buckeyes in their own stadium. In the weeks since they beat Northwestern at home 13-10 and lost 34-7 on the road to Minnesota. With a record of 4-3 on the season their resume is a bit unconvincing.
If you want to look at the Huskers through an advanced statistics scope they currently sit 46th in the SP+ rankings. For reference that’s just one spot ahead of the Maryland team that IU just beat. The Nebraska offense ranks 44th which is slightly better than Maryland (51) and Michigan (52). On defense the Huskers rank a bit lower at 61 which is three spots behind Maryland. If special teams is something you care about the Huskers rank 126th out of 130 teams.
What to Watch
1. Quarterback Health
As has been the case in too many games this season for IU all eyes will be on who will be starting under center for the Hoosiers in this one. Michael Penix Jr. is a gametime decision once again due to an injury suffered against Maryland that forced him to exit that game. The redshirt freshman did practice on Thursday which is good news, but if he doesn’t wind up playing against the Huskers, Peyton Ramsey should be capable of keeping the Hoosiers in the game.
On the flipside of that the Huskers have concerns of their own at the position. Martinez, the second-year stud, might miss a second-straight game with an injury and what’s more his backup Noah Vedral got a bit dinged against Minnesota and he’s questionable to play as well. That could mean that IU will face the Huskers’ third-stringer this weekend.
Obviously both coaches are playing things close to the chest and we likely won’t know who will play for either team until they step on the field.
2. JD Spielman
There might be a bit of correlation here with who actually plays quarterback for the Huskers, but Spielman is a weapon out wide and it’ll be key for the Hoosiers to reign him in. The Biletnikoff Award preseason watchlister is averaging nearly 20 yards per catch on the season and has shown the ability to go bonkers if given the opportunity. Last season he put up 209 receiving yards against Wisconsin, breaking the Nebraska record for receiving yards in a game. The Hoosiers will look to Tiawan Mullen, Jaylin Williams, Raheem Layne and Andre Brown to keep him in check.
3. The Hoosier Run Game
IU’s rushing attack has been under some scrutiny for much of the season as it’s been up-and-down throughout, though it’s mostly been up over the last few weeks. Over the last two weeks Stevie Scott III has ran for 164 and 108 yards respectively. Center Hunter Littlejohn is expected to be back on the field this weekend which will be a boost to the offensive line and should help in the running game.