Written By: Nick Holmes (@HoosierHolmes)
While this game might not be a life or death, the stakes are quite high in this match up between Indiana and Rutgers. Both teams are in dire need of a victory, as each enter the game 0 and 2 in conference and are quickly looking to right the ship. Coach Wilson is also looking for his first homecoming victory as the Hoosiers head coach. So grab your broadsword, crossbow, or whatever other medieval weapon you have at your disposal, as we take a look at the 'Numbers that Matter' vs the Scarlet Knights.
0-4 - I mentioned that Coach Wilson had yet to win a homecoming game as Head Coach of the Hoosiers, will that change on Saturday? (2014: Michigan State 56-17, 2013: Minnesota 42-39, 2012: Michigan State 31-27, and 2011: Northwestern 59-38). All four of those teams did end up making a bowl game that season.
134 - Arguably the top receiver in the conference, Leonte Carroo returned to the field last weekend after sitting out the prior two games due to a transgression committed off-the-field. Showing no signs of rust, he went out and caught seven passes for 134 yards against Michigan State.
3 - Did I mention Carroo had three touchdown grabs along the way? Rashard Fant and company will certainly have their hands full on Saturday.
39 - The Hoosiers gave up two long touchdown passes last week against Penn State, both of which happened to be 39 yards. The exact yardage doesn't matter as much as the fact that the secondary got beat deep, something Carroo has made a habit out during his collegiate career.
0 - The points Indiana scored on a fumble and onside kick recovery last week in Happy Valley. This team hasn't capitalized on turnovers during Big Ten play like it had during it's out-of-conference schedule.
25 - In their only game away from High Point Solutions Stadium, the Scarlet Knights were defeated by 25 points at the hands of Penn State. Although they were playing without their top offensive play-maker in Carroo.
1-4 - In five conference games on the road, Rutgers has only won one time, can Indiana continue Rutgers road woes?
3-1 - Indiana has put on a good show in all four match ups inside of Memorial Stadium so far this season, just missing the opportunity to upset number one Ohio State just two weeks ago. Can playing in front of a lively homecoming crowd be enough to help this team get back on track at home after starting the season 3 and 0 inside of The Rock?
.448% - The Hoosiers have done a better job in recent weeks in getting their opponents off the field on third down, but Rutgers features an offense that converts nearly 45% of their third down attempts. Indiana's defense is going to need to stall the Scarlet Knights drives when they get a chance on Saturday.
10 - Rutgers offense has turned the ball over ten times so far this season, which is tied for 80th in the nation. If you broke it out on a per game basis, they would be ranked even lower. The Indiana defense should hopefully be able to take advantage of the Scarlet Knight's carelessness.
12 - Speaking of turnovers, the Hoosiers ball-hawking defense has forced 12 on the season, something they can hopefully continue on Saturday.
16 - A secondary's best friend is a good pass rush, and the Hoosiers defensive line has been doing a much better job than it had at the beginning of the season. Last week Nick Mangieri and Zach Shaw got to Christian Hackenberg four times, increasing the team's sack total to 16 for the year. Can the team continue to get in the backfield and make things more difficult on opposing quarterbacks?
8 - Indiana is getting hit with eight penalties per game this season, which is tied for 106 in the nation. These last two weeks penalties, especially the timing of those infractions, have played an especially huge roll in the flow and potentially the outcome of the game. This is something that needs to be reduced, as the margin of error in conference games is quite small.
A sea of red will wash over Memorial Stadium on Saturday afternoon, among them, Indiana's Crimson, Rutgers Scarlet, and unfortunately that the Cam Cameron era "crimson," that just won't seem to go away, despite his tenure being over 14 years ago. But I digress, this is as big of game as any for Coach Wilson since he's been in Bloomington. Of the remaining six games on the schedule, this looks like one of most winnable. The Indiana defense needs to slow Carroo down, force some turnovers, and get the Scarlet Knights off the field when they have the chance. The Hoosiers offense is still a mystery at this point, as we are not entirely certain as to who will be lining up in the backfield on Saturday. Either way, the big guys upfront need to be much more physical and the wide receivers and tight ends need to minimize drops. Plenty of other factors will come into play when determining the outcome of the game, but right now, getting going early should be near the top of the list for the team.