On Sept. 18 the Indiana Hoosiers will host No. 8 Cincinnati Bearcats to a sellout Memorial Stadium for a noon EST kickoff. As mentioned, the Bearcats are ranked No. 8 in the nation heading into week three while Indiana remains unranked and 1-1.
The importance of this game for both teams cannot be understated.
Indiana needs this win to keep their B1G championship and any other aspirations alive and a win against a top ten opponent will surely help with that. Cincinnati on the other hand is just as desperate for a win this weekend as they need to pick up their first statement win of they year and a road victory at Indiana will do just that.
ICYMI, We Had a Podcast on This Game
Throughout the duration of the podcast our three contributors discussed what must happen in order for Indiana to walk away with a win against No. 8 Cincinnati, what absolutely cannot happen, and what phase of the ball is going to be most important if the Cream and Crimson want to pick up a statement victory.
So, what needs to happen?
Michael Penix Jr. has to play A+ football. We have seen him struggle so far this year, especially against No. 10 ranked Iowa when he three for 3 interceptions, even struggling at times against Idaho to find the open receiver. That can’t be the case when IU welcomes Cincinnati on Sept. 18.
IU’s defense needs to win the turnover battle. Defense was a staple last year for the Hoosiers and was something that helped them win and stay competitive in games. If the defense plays their best game of the year it will take some pressure off of the offense to produce points ever possession.
Indiana needs to win the third phase of football. Last week against Idaho IU was able to score two touchdowns from their special teams unit with a punt return and a blocked punt that was returned for a touchdown. Add another blocked punt and multiple big kickoff/punt returns to the mix and you get a recipe for success. It will only benefit IU if they can continue to get production from this phase of their team.
Matchups To Watch
Ahmad Gardner vs Ty Fryfogle
The first matchup that Indiana and Cincinnati fans will have their eyes set on is preseason All-American and NFL Draft prospect defensive back Ahmad Garner vs last years B1G receiver of the year Ty Fryfogle. Will Garner take away Fryfogle completely? Will IU offensive coordinator Nick Sheridan move his star receiver around a disguise him to get him away from Garner?
Indiana’s offensive line vs Cincinnati’s front seven
If you could pinpoint one specific are where Indiana drastically needs to improve based on their first two games is on their offensive line. False starts and not giving Penix Jr. time in the pocket is a recipe for disaster for the Hoosiers and if the Bearcats defensive line can get pressure on Penix Jr it will be a long day for the Cream and Crimson.
Desmond Ridder vs IU defensive backs
In two games Cincinnati QB Desmond Ridder has thrown for 538 yards and six touchdowns while only throwing one interception. As mentioned earlier, Indiana leaned on their defense last year and they will need to get stops and win the turnover battle on Saturday if they want to walk away with a win. Tiawan Mullen, Reese Taylor and co. will need to have a big game with no mental lapses for the Hoosiers to pick up the victory.
Where They’re Ranked
In the AP Top 25, Cincinnati is ranked No. 8.
In the USA Today Sports AFCA Coaches Poll, Cincinnati is also No. 8.
According to PFF College, the Bearcats are No. 5 in the country.
Jeff Sagarin’s computer rankings have them No. 14.
ESPN SP+ ratings have them slotted at No. 10.
Cincinnati’s Last Big Ten Game Didn’t Go Well
Indiana Leads the Head-to-Head Series
The Uniform Matchup
This Has Nothing to Do with Football, but Still…
Indiana’s Depth Chart
Cincinnati’s Depth Chart
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