Know Your Opponent: Indiana State Sycamores

Written by Lloyd Ribner III (@Ribner3

 As they proved in 2012, the Sycamores will be no walk in the park for the Hoosiers in Week One.

As they proved in 2012, the Sycamores will be no walk in the park for the Hoosiers in Week One.

We are just hours away from kickoff at Memorial Stadium as the Indiana Hoosiers will be lining up against the Indiana State Sycamores. The game is on the opening day of college football so there is no wait for the Hoosier fans as their team takes to the field under the lights tonight. If you are visiting this site you are most likely rather familiar with the Hoosier football team. However, you may not be quite as locked in on their opponent. Don't fret, we here at Hoosier Huddle took the time to break down Indiana's FCS opponent for you, so that you can go on with your day. So while your at work, watching the clock move ever so slowly towards the time where football once again can take over, make sure you know a little bit more about the team the Hoosiers are playing tonight.

1.  These two met last year, and it was closer than you would think. 

In 2012 Indiana also kicked their season off with a matchup against the Sycamores. While the Hoosiers walked away with a victory, it was far from easy, as Indiana State gave them a game into the fourth quarter. The Hoosiers were clinging to a 24-17 lead and were able to stop the Sycamores in their tracks on their final three series inside of Hoosier territory. When the final whistle blew, the score was still 24-17 in favor of the Hoosiers. While ISU came up short they were able to rack up 387 total yards, far from the paltry number you would expect from an FCS foe. This was no fluke of a game; they Sycamores were able to stay in it due to some quality individual talent, and really gave the game away. There were a series of critical drops and opportunities that were not taken advantage of that prevented Indiana State from pulling off an upset.

2.  Shakir Bell is the real deal.

Shakir Bell.jpg

In last years matchup between these two teams Shakir bell had a coming out party. He started off strong from the opening snap as he ran for 103 yards in the first quarter alone. When the day came to a close Bell finished with 194 yards on just 24 carries and was able to get into the end zone once on a long score. This was not a flash in the pan game for Shakir Bell by any means. During his thee years as a Sycamore, he has rushed for 3,794 yards and 27 touchdowns. Bell isn’t just a back who compiles stats either, as his 6.4 career yards per carry shows just how explosive he can be. Entering his senior season, he he is looking to cap off what has been an exceptional career, and what better way to do it than to score an upset over the in-state Hoosiers.

3.  There’s a new sheriff in town.

When the Sycamores traveled to Bloomington last season they were led by head coach Trent Miles. During his time in Terre Haute, Miles turned the program from a laughingstock with a 0-12 record his first season to a top-20 FCS program nationally in 2012. While he was a graduate of Indiana State, he felt the lure of coaching a Georgia State program, which was making the jump to the FBS level, too much to turn down. In his place Indiana State has turned to former UNLV head coach Mike Sanford, who spent last year as an assistant head coach at Utah State where he helped lead the Aggies to a top 20 ranking and a bowl appearance. He was also a member of Urban Meyer’s staff at Utah as the offensive coordinator. Sanford will be making his Sycamore debut against the Hoosiers in week one.

4.  The Sycamores can play D

The most obvious example of this was last year when they held the Hoosiers to just 24 points in their matchup.  With Indiana averaging 30.8 points per game last year, the fact that an FCS program could essentially cut a touchdown off that average is simply exceptional. That was not the only game where Indiana State proved their chops. Last year the Sycamores finished in the top ten nationally amongst FCS teams in both yards per game, 296.4 (5th), and points per game, 14.3 (3rd). They possessed a rather balanced defensive attack as both their passing and rushing defenses were ranked in the top-30. 

5.  Indiana State has some streaks to snap.

While the Sycamores put up a fight in their 2012 debut against the Hoosiers it just wasn’t enough. They are hoping for a different conclusion to the story this season, as a victory over Indiana would put the kibosh on a multitude of unpleasant streaks for Indiana State. First and foremost the Sycamores are 0-4 all-time against the Hoosiers, while the series doesn’t have all that much history, all of the games have gone in favor of Indiana. Indiana State’s ineptitude doesn’t end with the Hoosiers however, as the Sycamores are 0-10 against the Big Ten conference as a whole. While those two stats are ugly, they are not totally unexpected as Indiana State is playing up a level of completion when playing Big Ten teams, and any victory would be considered a major upset. On the other hand there is another streak that the Sycamores have to deal with on their own. That is the fact that they have not won a season opening road game since their victory over Drake way back in 1980.