Indiana football is set to welcome Rutgers at noon on Saturday for the program’s annual homecoming game in Bloomington.
The two programs have been on opposing trajectories since their 2020 meeting in Piscataway. Indiana has fallen to the lowest of lows while Rutgers has begun a steady rise. The Scarlet Knights are 2-0 against the Hoosiers in the last two meetings.
... a streak that’s likely to continue this weekend.
Here’s three things to know about the game:
Both programs have something on the line, Rutgers’ is more immediate
With a win in Bloomington, Rutgers can achieve bowl eligibility for the second time under Schiano and its first with six wins. Getting eligible in October would be a massive step forward for the Knights’ program.
It’s an achievable feat with Indiana reeling from back-to-back blowout losses to league competition, a midseason change at offensive coordinator and even more questions at the starting quarterback spot.
A loss for Indiana would continue the program’s descent from the past two seasons and cause even more serious questions about heading into another year with this coaching staff.
Greg Schiano’s defense
Like Indiana under Allen, the defensive side of the ball is Rutgers’ specialty under Schiano and it’s largely held up its end of the field during his second stint in New Jersey.
At 16 points allowed per game, the Scarlet Knights’ defense ranks fifth in the league. That’s going to create plenty of issues for an Indiana offense in its third week under a new coordinator and without a solid option at starting quarterback.
The Knights’ 17 sacks in seven games is good for fifth in the conference, one behind Michigan. Comparatively, Indiana has allowed 12 sacks in six games. Rutgers’ pass rush is one of its best units and will create additional issues for a quarterback room without much experience.
Make no mistake, Schiano’s defense will be the most important unit in the game.
Rutgers’ new-look offense
The Scarlet Knights’ offense hasn’t been a highlight-reel unit but it is improved from previous offenses that still did enough to close out games against the Hoosiers.
Their 27.7 points per game ranks fifth in the Big Ten. Indiana has the worst offense in the league, averaging a mere 18.5 points per game. Additionally, Rutgers has a sure thing at quarterback.
Gavin Wimsatt is a junior and has started in six of Rutgers’ seven games. He helped lead the Knights to a massive comeback win against Michigan State last week alongside running back Kyle Monangai, who rushed for 148 yards and the game-winning touchdown in the fourth quarter.
With Indiana’s defense allowing 29 points per game (second-worst in the league) look for Rutgers to be able to capitalize on that end of the field.
Greg Schiano has found a way to beat Tom Allen’s Indiana with worse teams than this one, and the Hoosiers are actively in a freefall.
Rutgers does enough on the road with the promise of bowl eligibility fueling them to that sixth win and Indiana is left reeling and searching for answers to big questions.