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First Look: Indiana

November 14th, 2016 by Justin Potts


indiana-hoosiers

Michigan suffered its first setback of the season on Saturday, falling 14-13 at Iowa. But the Wolverines still control their own destiny. Win their last two games and they’re in the Big Ten championship. Win that one and they’re in the College Football Playoff. It’s as simple as that — not that it will be simple to do.

It begins with the Indiana Hoosiers, who need to win one of their last two to earn bowl eligibility and both to ensure a winning season. At 5-5 overall and 3-4 in the Big Ten, IU head coach Kevin Wilson would love to do just that to collect the first winning season of his career. Let’s take a look at how the two teams compare through the first 10 weeks of the season.

Indiana & Michigan statistical comparison
Indiana | Michigan Rank Defense Rank
Points Per Game 27.5 | 44.5 71 6
28.4 11.0 67 1
Rushing Yards 1,646 2,363 1,563 1,131
Rush Avg. Per Game 164.6 | 236.3 77 19
156.2 113.1 52 13
Avg. Per Rush 4.0 | 5.3
3.7 3.1
Passing Yards 3,027 2,315 2,358 1316
Pass Avg. Per Game 302.7 231.5 20 68 235.8 131.6 73 1
Total Offense 4,673 4,678 3,920 2,447
Total Off Avg. Per Game 467.3 467.8 32 31 392.0 244.7 55 1
Kick Return Average 20.0 17.8 83 119 20.4 21.8 61 | 74
Punt Return Average 7.9 18.0 63 2 5.7 | 8.1 39 72
Avg. Time of Possession 28:42 32:59 86 18 31:18 | 27:01
3rd Down Conversion Pct 39% | 47% 71 22
31% | 20.0% 13 1
Sacks Allowed-Yards/By-Yards 20-142| 14-94
57 22
22-151 | 33-219 56 8
Touchdowns Scored 34 58
35 | 13
Field Goals-Attempts 12-21 12-17
14-17 | 6-12
Red Zone Scores (27-40) 68%|(51-56) 91% 128 | 20
(30-34) 88%|(11-17) 65% 93 1
Red Zone Touchdowns (19-40) 47%|(40-56) 71% (19-34) 56%|(7-17 41%
Off. S&P+/Def. S&P+ 31.0 37.4 53 25 26.4 | 5.1 46 1

Indiana won three of its first four games of the season, and when they beat then-No. 17 Michigan State it looked to be a big, program building win. In hindsight, it was simply what every other team in the Big Ten save Rutgers has done. The Hoosiers then proceeded to lose their next three, though they hung with Nebraska, before beating Maryland and Rutgers and then losing to Penn State this past Saturday. In short, Indiana’s five wins have come over the bottom three teams in the Big Ten East, FIU, and Ball State.

As usual, the Hoosiers do have a decent offense, averaging just a half yard more per game than Michigan does. But that hasn’t translated into points as they average 17 fewer points per game than the Wolverines. Indiana has topped 40 points just once in a 42-36 win over Maryland and 30 points in five of 10 games. They had a season low 14 points in a 24-14 loss to Northwestern. Against teams in the top half of the Big Ten in scoring defense, IU is averaging just under 18 points per game.

Indiana does it mostly through a passing game that ranks second in the Big Ten behind only Penn State. The Hoosiers average 302.7 passing yards per game (20th nationally), which is about 70 more per game than Michigan averages. Led by quarterback Richard Lagow, Indiana has thrown for more than 200 yards nine times, more than 300 yards four times, and more than 400 yards twice. They passed for 496 yards against Wake Forest and 420 against Rutgers, but Ohio State held the Hoosiers to their lowest total of the season, 182 yards on 14-of-28 passing.

The running game isn’t as explosive, averaging 164.6 yards per game, which ranks ninth in the Big Ten and 77th nationally. During the three game losing streak against Ohio State, Nebraska, and Northwestern, the Hoosiers failed to break 100 rushing yards, averaging 90.3 yards. They followed that with a season-high 414 rushing yards against Maryland.

As noted above, Indiana moves the ball well, but has trouble scoring. Much of that is because they rank dead last nationally in red zone offense. Only 57 teams have reached the red zone more than the 40 times the Hoosiers have, but they’ve scored on only 27 (68 percent) of those trips. To make matters worse, they’ve scored touchdowns on only 19 (47 percent) of those.

On the defensive side, Michigan fans won’t like hearing that Indiana’s defense ranks very comparably on paper — and even better in some areas — than the Iowa team that just shut down Michigan’s offense. Similarly to the offensive side of the ball, Indiana’s defense in terms of yardage allowed looks better than their scoring defense. This is because they allow opponents to score on 88 percent of their red zone possessions, which ranks 93rd nationally.

In terms of total defense, Indiana allows about nine more yards per game than Iowa does, although prior to Iowa’s performance against Michigan on Saturday, the Hawkeyes allowed more yards per game than IU currently does. Four of 10 opponents have topped 400 total yards against the Hoosiers and Maryland reached 517. Three of those 400-plus yard games have come in the last four weeks, suggesting that they’re wearing down a bit late in the season. During that span, Rutgers was the only team that didn’t reach 400.

Indian’s rush defense ranks seventh in the Big Ten and 52nd nationally, allowing 156.2 yards per game. Ohio State rushed for 290 yards on 5.8 yards per carry and Maryland managed 269 yards on 5.4. However, Indiana’s defense held Penn State to just 77 rushing yards on 45 carries (1.7 yards per carry). Saquan Barkley managed just 58 yards on 33 carries.

The pass defense ranks second to last in the Big Ten and 73rd nationally, giving up 235.8 yards per game. Ohio State passed for only 93 yards — because they had such success running the ball that they didn’t need to — but only one other opponent threw for fewer than 200. Wake Forest passed for 172. The last four opponents have averaged 280.8 passing yards per game, lead by Penn State’s 332 yards this past Saturday.

While I mentioned above that Indiana’s defense compares statistically to Iowa’s, the advanced stats tell a slightly different story. S&P+ has Indiana’s defense 22 spots lower than Iowa’s.

Overall, Indiana has a potent passing offense but a lackluster running game. They have a better defense than typical Kevin Wilson teams, but it’s not one that should be able to shut down Michigan’s offense like Iowa did on Saturday. That said, depending on the severity of Wilton Speight’s injury, if Michigan has to start John O’Korn, Indiana will look to stuff the run like they did to Penn State this past weekend and force the inexperienced quarterback to beat them.