Indiana football is set to kick off against Louisville at noon on Saturday at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
The Cardinals are 2-0 through the first two weeks of the season with high-scoring wins against Georgia Tech in Atlanta and Murray State at home. The Hoosiers are 1-1 with a 23-3 loss to Ohio State and a 41-7 win over Indiana State.
Here’s three things that could determine the outcome on Saturday:
Quarterback Tayven Jackson
Louisville will serve as game one with full-time starting duties for the redshirt freshman. While accurate and able to make plays against the Sycamores, the Cardinals are an entirely different level of challenge.
Louisville runs a variant of the 4-2-5 defense, the same defensive system Allen uses at Indiana. Jackson will have the benefit of working with a coaching staff with plenty of experience in that defense and what challenges it may bring.
Expect Louisville to try and leverage Jackson’s inexperience to its advantage. Winning two state titles in Lucas Oil should help ease his nerves.
Jaylin Lucas was excellent against Indiana State after leaving the game against Ohio State with cramps, but I doubt either game offered a glimpse into his full usage this season for Indiana.
The Hoosiers were overmatched against Ohio State and undermatched against Indiana State. The Cardinals will be more there speed and could define how the season goes moving forward.
As such, Indiana really can’t afford to not use Lucas in every way possible as a runner, receiver and decoy. He has 21 rushing attempts and five receptions through two weeks, I’d expect to see him used even more in the passing game on Saturday.
He’s the kind of player that a defense can’t fully prepare for and he should be used as such.
The Defensive Line
Allen has praised his defensive line since spring practice, lauding the unit for its effort and performance. After slipping slightly against Indiana State at times, the Hoosiers’ line should be locked in against Louisville.
Carter is arguably the best player on the defense, showing out against both Ohio State and Indiana State. He should be able to keep creating havoc against Louisville.
The Cardinals’ offensive line has remained stout through the first two weeks of the season but quarterback Jack Plummer has been inaccurate at times, particularly during the few occasions he’s faced pressure.
Should Indiana be capable of keeping Plummer under pressure on Saturday while contending with Louisville’s highly-effective ground game, Jeff Brohm could have some issues on his hands.