Written by David Sugarman (@David_Sugarman2)
With Indiana’s second bowl game in as many years now less than a week away, it’s time for Numbers That Matter as the Hoosiers get ready to take on the Utah Utes in the Foster Farms Bowl.
35- Utah has the 35th best rush offense in the nation this season. The Utes are led by running back Joe Williams, who ran for over 1,000 yards despite missing four games after a mid-season mini-retirement. Yes, he actually retired mid-season, but that’s a story for another time. Indiana has played pretty well against the run this year, a very respectable seventh in the Big Ten surrendering 152.4 yards per game. They shut down the league's best back in Saquon Barkley, holding the 3rd-team All-American to just 58 yards on 33 carries. Indiana may need a similar effort defensively to win this one.
7- For all the talk of “Tom Allen Takeaways” this season, Indiana has given away the football more than their fair share. The Hoosiers have a minus-seven turnover margin, second worst in the Big Ten, while Utah is plus-seven. The turnover battle cost Indiana some big wins this year, most notably turning the ball over five times in a close game against then #10 Penn State. Oh, and the last time Indiana finished a season with seven wins? 2007.
100- Indiana had a 100-yard ball carrier in four of their six wins this year. Plus, in the bowl-clinching win against Purdue, Devine Redding went for 99 yards and a score. Whether it’s through Redding or the Zander Diamont-Tyler Natee package, Indiana must establish a strong run game to succeed and help take the pressure off quarterback Richard Lagow.
30 (or under)- Richard Lagow has had his ups and downs in his first year under center for IU, but excelled when he wasn’t overworked. The Hoosiers are 5-2 when Lagow throws the ball less than 30 times. He’s thrown 11 of his 16 interceptions in those five other games, including a five-interception performance against Wake Forest where he put the ball in the air 47 times. If Indiana establishes the run early and Lagow throws the ball 20-30 times they’ll have a great chance to win.
3rd- IU is 13th in the nation in 3rd down defense allowing opponents to convert just under 32-percent of the time. Kind enough to play right into one of IU’s strengths, Utah is ranked 89th in the nation on 3rd down offense, converting less than 38 percent of the time. Hopefully, for Indiana’s sake, those numbers hold true.
25- It’s been 25 years since Indiana won a bowl game. That was the 1991 Copper Bowl, a 24-0 win against Baylor. Getting a bowl win against a ranked team and finishing over .500 would be something new head coach Tom Allen could lean on as a building block in the coming months of recruiting.