Coming off a bye week, the Indiana Hoosiers resume Big Ten conference play with a visit from the Rutgers Scarlet Knights. At 3-2, Indiana needs a win to continue to get closer to its goal of a bowl berth this season.
Rutgers is reeling. At 1-4, the Scarlet Knights are coming off a bruising 49-7 home loss to Maryland, one week after Chris Ash was fired as Rutgers' head coach. Interim head coach Nunzio Campanile stated, "It's not going to be easy, but you know, nothing worth doing in life is easy, so I'm really — like I said, I'm excited to see what we do in the coming weeks. ... We have some games that we have an opportunity to improve on and that's what we have to do."
Indiana head coach Tom Allen is not taking Rutgers lightly coming into this game. "I think the challenge is you've got to be a mature football team to understand it's a Big Ten opportunity," Allen said. "They've got a unique situation they're in right now, but we have no control over that, and all we can control is how we prepare. I know that we're playing a Big Ten football team Saturday, and we'll have to be at our very best."
Rutgers at Indiana
Kickoff: Saturday, Oct. 12 at 12 p.m. ET
TV: Big Ten Network
Spread: Indiana -27.5
When Rutgers Has the Ball
With the decision by Artur Sitkowski to redshirt in 2019, Rutgers was forced to turn to Johnny Langan at quarterback against Maryland. Langan completed only 13-of-25 passes for 163 yards and two interceptions, but he was capable as a runner, with 19 carries for 59 yards and a touchdown. If Rutgers is going to stay in this game, it will be crucial for Langan to cut down on his turnovers, and for the Scarlet Knights to establish a strong running game. Scarlet Knights running back Isaih Pacheco was the leading rusher for Rutgers, adding 78 yards on 19 carries. Look for Indiana to try and force Rutgers into being one-dimensional, as the Hoosiers usually give up only 130 yards per game on the ground.
When Indiana Has the Ball
Even though Indiana is coming off a bye week, the Hoosiers had an impressive offensive performance the previous week in a 40-31 loss to Michigan State. Quarterback Michael Penix Jr. completed 33-of-42 passes for 286 yards and three touchdowns. Indiana struggled to run effectively against Michigan State, with only 70 yards on the ground against the Spartans. Look for Indiana to use its passing game to get the offense moving, then for the Hoosiers to try and establish a running game for balance against the Scarlet Knights. Rutgers has been equally vulnerable to both the pass and run, so how the Scarlet Knights try to attack Indiana defensively is anyone's guess.
Indiana has lofty goals of a bowl bid this season, and Rutgers is unfortunate enough to be facing the Hoosiers at a most inopportune time. Rutgers is trying to finish out the season with an interim head coach and players who simply want the 2019 season to end as soon as possible.