After back-to-back road games, the Indiana Hoosiers return to Bloomington for a week 10 matchup under the lights against the Northwestern Wildcats. The Hoosiers are currently on a three-game winning streak after defeating Rutgers, Maryland, and Nebraska, achieving six wins for bowl eligibility in the process. Indiana and Northwestern meet for the first time since 2016 and for the first time in Bloomington since 2010. The Wildcats hold the overall series lead with the Hoosiers 47-34-1, dating back to 1899.
How to Watch: Indiana Hoosiers versus Northwestern Wildcats
|Week 10: Indiana Hoosiers versus Northwestern Wildcats
|7 PM ET / Saturday November 2nd, 2019
|Memorial Stadium – Bloomington, Ind.
|Find the Lowest Ticket Prices on SeatGeek
|FS1 (Fox Sports One)
|IU Radio Network
|Indiana -9.0 / Over-Under: 43.5
Meet the Wildcats
Northwestern (1-6, 0-5 Big Ten) comes into the contest losers of five straight. Their last victory came back on Sept. 14, defeating UNLV, 30-14. The reigning Big Ten West champions currently sit in last place in their division, a game behind the Purdue Boilermakers.
Reigning Big Ten Coach of the Year Pat Fitzgerald, who is in his 14th season, leads the Wildcats into Bloomington. Fitzgerald holds a 97-76 overall record and sports a 6-1 record against Indiana, with his team winning the previous five matchups against the Hoosiers.
The Wildcats enter this weekend’s game with only one win on the season, but they have kept games close this season with the lone exception being a 52-3 blowout against Ohio State. According to Sagarin, they have played the toughest schedule in the country. Fitgerald’s team holds a -13.7 points differential per game and have played teams like Wisconsin and Nebraska close, but have not finished the close contests with a victory.
Get to Know the Northwestern Wildcats
Key Offensive Players
Northwestern ranks 129th overall for total offense in the FBS, just one spot above last place Old Dominion. The Wildcats’ offense averages just 10.7 points, which ranks dead last, 130th. Junior quarterback and Fort Wayne native Aidan Smith (Carroll HS) leads the charge for Northwestern’s offense. This season, Smith has thrown for 453 yards, one TD, and six INTs at a 47.8% clip in three starts. In five appearances this season, Smith has thrown for over 100 yards in a game just twice, against Nebraska and Iowa.
There is balance in the Wildcats offense, as the yards per game are almost equal at 140.4 passing and 126.0 rushing. Redshirt freshman Drake Anderson paces the run game for coordinator Mike McCall’s offense, with 92 carries for 436 yards and two touchdowns. His longest run of 31 yards came in Madison against the vaunted Badgers defense. In five games of action, Anderson’s highest production came back in September against Michigan State, when he ran for 91 yards on 17 carries and scored.
Junior wide receiver Riley Lees has grabbed a team-high 23 receptions for 156 yards, one higher than developing sophomore teammate JJ Jefferson. However, Lees’ production has declined in recent weeks, with just four receptions for a total of 17 yards against Ohio State and Iowa.
Key Defensive Players
On the defensive side of the ball, Northwestern ranks 32nd in the country in total defense, allowing 24.4 points and 339.4 yards per game. Defensive back Travis Whillock leads the Wildcats with 54 tackles on the season (25 solo). The junior from Katy, Texas, has one sack and two fumble recoveries on the season as well.
Whillock’s high school teammate, junior linebacker Paddy FIsher, captains the Wildcats and will cause problems for IU’s offense all Saturday night. A 2018 Third Team AP All-American and First Team All-Big Ten selection, Fisher has 52 tackles on the season and an interception. Linebacker Blake Gallagher also stuffs the stat sheet for Northwestern. The junior also has 54 tackles (23 solo). Gallagher has 1.5 TFLs with three quarterback hurries and one pass break-up through seven games.
On the defensive line, 5th year senior Joe Gaziano will try to disrupt Indiana’s passing game. A 2018 Second Team All-Big Ten selection, Gaziano has 5.5 sacks on the season, and 26.5 in his career.
Week 10: What to watch for against the Northwestern Wildcats
1. Can Indiana keep up the momentum
The Hoosiers are coming off one of their biggest wins in a long time last weekend against Nebraska. After achieving bowl eligibility before the end of October, Indiana now has reaching six wins off of their plate. Tom Allen’s team will be playing in their first night game of the season against a struggling Northwestern team. This is an opportunity for the Hoosiers to keep improving as the regular season enters its final month and play for a chance at a bigger bowl game.
2. Northwestern’s secondary against Indiana’s offense
Northwestern has hung in the game against most of their opponents, mostly because of their defense. Look, for Indiana and Kalen DeBoer to mix up the play calling to leave the Wildcats second-guessing themselves. Northwestern gives up an average of 159.4 rushing and 180.0 passing yards per game. Indiana may have to lean on the running game with backs like Stevie Scott and Ronnie Walker early on so the passing game can open up. If the Hoosiers can be two-dimensional on offense, look for Indiana to take the Northwestern defense out of the game.
Week 10: Indiana Hoosiers versus Northwestern Wildcats Predictions
30-6 Indiana. The Hoosiers start November off with their fourth consecutive Big Ten win after defeating Northwestern. Indiana’s defense proves to be too much for the struggling Wildcat’s offense as they get multiple turnovers and a score during the game. Kalen DeBoer’s offense continues their strong output even with the uncertainty of who is starting under center.Andrew Rude
34-10 Indiana. Bowl-eligible Indiana will play with significantly less pressure during prime time. Regardless of quarterback, Kalen DeBoer’s offense will end up impressing once again, while an improved defense still has trouble containing the air attack.Rob Jiang
44-7 Indiana. Indiana returns home to a fired up crowd and remains hot for their first November night game in school history. Wommack finds a way for the defense to lock down a struggling northwestern offense.Dakota Thompson
23-10 Indiana. Whether Penix or Ramsey starts, IU has some difficulty moving the ball against a stout Northwestern defense that ranks 13th in the country per S&P+. Still, IU gets win #7 for the first time since 2007, thanks to a disciplined defensive effort against a putrid Northwestern passing attack. Expect Whop Philyor to have another big day, and look for freshman CB Tiawan Mullen to get his first career interception.Nithin Krishnan
35-7 Indiana. Hoosiers triumphantly return home and spank the heck out the Wildcats. Doesn’t matter who is playing QB because Northwestern isn’t going to score themselves. 7-2 heading into Penn State is special. Enjoy this excitement while you can Hoosier fans.Matt Lukens
Featured Photo: Connor Desilets/The State News