With the bye week in the rear view mirror, the Indiana Hoosiers, led by head coach Tom Allen, will look to return to the win column on Saturday, October 12, against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights (1-4, 0-3 B1G). Rutgers underwent a coaching change after a 52-0 loss at Michigan, relieving Chris Ash of his duties and replacing him with Nunzio Campanile. Rutgers lost vs. Maryland in Campanile’s debut on Saturday, 48-7.
How to Watch: Indiana Hoosiers versus Rutgers Scarlet Knights
|Who||Week 7: Indiana Hoosiers versus Rutgers Scarlet Knights|
|When||12:00 PM ET / Saturday, October 12, 2019|
|Where||Memorial Stadium – Bloomington, Ind.|
|Tickets||Find the Lowest Ticket Prices on SeatGeek|
|Watch||Big Ten Network|
|Listen||IU Radio Network|
|Spread||IU -28, O/U 49.5|
Rutgers: An Overview
While Rutgers has the current ignominy of bringing up the back of the pack in the Big Ten, their program has plenty of historical significance. They have the unique distinction as one of the two teams to play in the first game of intercollegiate football, knocking off Princeton, 6-4, on November 6, 1869. This year marks 150 years since that historic moment.
In the middle of another tough season, the Scarlet Knights have lost four games out of five, fired their coach, and started three different quarterbacks this season. Furthermore, versatile junior RB Raheem Blackshear, a team captain, and sophomore QB Artur Sitkowski have opted to intentionally sit games out in order to redshirt this season. Big Ten opponents Iowa, Michigan, and Maryland have outscored Rutgers 130-7 this season.
Rutgers has struggled mightily offensively, mustering just 71 points in five games, and only 23 in their last four. They have not successfully run the football this year, averaging only 113 rush yards per game. Defensively, they have leaked big plays consistently, especially on the ground. They also rank 126th in the country in turnover margin, committing eleven (8 INT), but forcing just 3 (all INT).
Get to Know the Scarlet Knights
Key Offensive Players
Currently, Rutgers has a revolving door going at quarterback. On Tuesday, Texas Tech transfer McLane Carter, who started the first two games of the season, retired from football, a month after he suffered a concussion at Iowa.
Redshirt freshman Johnny Langan will start in Bloomington. Langan, who transferred from Boston College, played for Campanile in high school and won the 2017 state title at Bergen Catholic in Oradell, New Jersey. Langan’s first start came against the Terps, and he went 13 for 25, for 163 yards and 2 interceptions. He also ran the ball 19 times for 59 yards and a touchdown.
With the news of Blackshear’s transfer, sophomore RB Isaih Pacheco will serve as the primary focus of Indiana’s defense on Saturday. Pacheco has 76 carries for 346 yards (4.6 YPC) and 4 touchdowns, although he has not scored since week one against Massachusetts. Junior 5’11” WR Bo Melton will try to help Langan in the passing game; Melton recorded 4 grabs against Maryland, including a catch in traffic on a trick play.
Also, the Rutgers offensive line will challenge IU’s pass rush. The quintet, headlined by senior RT Kamaal Seymour, has only conceded seven sacks this season, tied for lowest in the Big Ten. LT Raiqwon O’Neal is an injury concern against the Hoosiers on Saturday. Speaking of O’Neal, he and center Michael Maietti have had a couple of interesting moments this year (see below).
Key Defensive Players
Rutgers plays better defensively than offensively, at least to this point. They rank 70th in the nation on that side of the ball, compared to 106th (out of 130) offensively, according to S&P+. Up front, 295-pound DT Willington Previlon has the ability to cause problems, and DL Elorm Lumor will try to disrupt IU’s backfield. Lumor led the team with 3.5 sacks last season, and has tallied one this year.
Junior MLB Tyshon Fogg leads the team with 43 tackles, good for 9th in the conference. The 4* LB, who held offers from Clemson, Iowa, and Stanford, had a career-high 12 tackles a few weeks ago vs. Boston College. In the secondary, senior CB Damon Hayes will challenge IU wide receivers on the outside. Hayes has five career INTs, including housing a pick-six in 2016 at Minnesota, snagging a Peyton Ramsey pass in the end zone last year, and taking one away from Michigan QB Shea Patterson this season. Rutgers has only forced three turnovers (tied for last in FBS) and recorded six sacks this year.
Week 7: What to watch for against the Scarlet Knights
1. The Final Tune-up
IU opened as a 25-point favorite against the Scarlet Knights; simply put, the Hoosiers will not face an easier opponent the rest of the season. Rutgers has had issues on and off the field, IU returns from a bye week, and after Saturday, Indiana will play four of their final six games on the road.
Rutgers has failed to score a point in two away games this year; in fact, they have not scored more than 17 points on the road since October 22, 2016, at Minnesota. IU swiftly disposed of Eastern Illinois and UConn earlier this season at Memorial Stadium; they should do the same to the Scarlet Knights.
2. Be Like Mike
After an eye-opening passing performance at Michigan State, IU redshirt freshman QB Michael Penix will attempt to keep his strong season going against the Scarlet Knights. Penix will face a much easier defense than the one he dissected in East Lansing; last week, Maryland’s quarterbacks threw for 290 yards and two TDs. Rutgers has decent defensive backs in Hayes and Avery Young, but IU’s WRs Donavan Hale, Nick Westbrook, and Whop Philyor should have their way.
3. Takeaways, Tackling, and Effort
If those words sound familiar, they do because Allen has routinely mentioned those three items as the foundation for his defense since he took the coordinator job in January 2016. This season, IU has recorded the fewest takeaways in the country with just three, tied with programs like Kansas and Rutgers. The Scarlet Knights have coughed up the ball 11 times in five games this year; the Hoosiers might look to double their season’s total in one afternoon on Saturday.
Tackling and effort improved last week against MSU, but Allen, along with co-DCs Kane Wommack and Mark Hagen, will want the Hoosiers to keep emphasizing that area. DBs Reese Taylor and A’Shon Riggins will likely come back to the IU secondary, and DL Juan Harris‘ return will bolster the defensive line.
4. Justus is Served
With rain and wind expected in the forecast on Saturday in Bloomington, kicker Logan Justus may face his toughest test of the year this week. In addition, Justus, who has made every attempt this season (PAT and FG), will face a Rutgers special teams unit that blocked a kick last Saturday against Maryland.
In general, Rutgers’ special teams unit represents their strongest facet of the game. Even after giving up a kickoff return for a TD to Maryland, Rutgers ranks 60th in FBS in special teams per S&P+. Kicker Justin Davidovicz earned All-Big Ten honorable mention recognition from coaches last year, and he drilled a 52-yarder last year at home against IU. if IU kickoff specialist Nate Snyder doesn’t hit one into the end zone, kick returners Tre Avery and Avery Young could return it for six.
5. Just Stay Healthy
With three crucial games coming up after Rutgers, IU will desperately look to avoid any key injuries against the Scarlet Knights. Against UConn, a game IU won by 35, senior captain Coy Cronk went down for the season. While Allen likes the depth on this year’s roster, the Hoosiers need to have as many scholarship players available as possible entering an important juncture in the season. Up next, IU heads on the road to play Maryland and Nebraska, before returning home to face Northwestern. Three wins out of the next four will have IU bowling for the first time since 2016.
Week 7: Indiana Hoosiers versus Scarlet Knights Predictions
56-7 Indiana. A well rested Indiana team is able to find the end zone through the air and on the ground against a struggling Rutgers club. Expect the fireworks to go off for the Hoosiers’ homecoming.Rob Jiang
42-6 Indiana. Penix and Co. get off to a fast start and keep the pressure on a Rutgers team that is trying to find any momentum behind a failed season. With a backup QB and RB, Rutgers won’t put together solid drives on the Hoosier defense. Indiana will be well-rested and secure a solid victory.Dakota Thompson
38-13 Indiana. Rutgers plays some feisty football, but the Hoosiers’ talent overwhelms the Scarlet Knights to get win #4 on the season. Bold prediction: IU, which has 3 takeaways on the season, gets at least 3 against Rutgers.Nithin Krishnan
42-10 Indiana. The Hoosiers have no problem moving the ball against a struggling Rutgers squad. Stevie Scott tops 100 yards rushing with two touchdowns and Michael Penix adds 300 yards through the air with three scores. The defense shows up to play, as they force Rutgers to turn the ball over twice and gain just under 200 yards of offense. Indiana uses this game to improve to four wins on the season as they are set for a road trip over the next two weeks against Maryland and Nebraska.Andrew Rude
Featured Photo: Rutgers Athletics/Mitch Leff