Written by T.J. Inman (@TJHoosierHuddle)
Game 6 Primer – Rutgers
What: Rutgers (1-4) at Indiana (3-2)
Where: Memorial Stadium
When: Saturday, October 12, 2019
How to Watch: The game will be broadcast on the Big Ten Network. You can also listen to the game on the IU Radio Network with the legendary Don Fischer on the call.
Series History: The Hoosiers and the Scarlet Knights have met on five occasions, beginning in 2014. Rutgers won the first two contests but the Hoosiers have won the last three. The series includes the infamous IU collapse in 2015 and three of these games have been very close.
What’s at Stake: Both teams are looking for their first Big Ten victory. Rutgers has an interim coach and is very likely going to be a program that looks entirely different in 2020. Indiana is 3-2 and this is the first of a four-game stretch that is going to define the 2019 season. To be blunt, this is a game that Indiana cannot lose if they are to reach a bowl game. In addition, it is Homecoming weekend in Bloomington.
IUHoosiers.com Game Day Information:
It's Indiana Football Game Week!
As you get ready to enjoy watching Coach Tom Allen's Hoosiers this weekend, our Indiana Football Game-Day section is your source for answers to any and all questions regarding Saturday's game.
Need to buy tickets? Questions about parking or traffic? Curious about this weekend's opponent? Trying to find out what TV or radio station you can enjoy the game? You can find answers to these questions and many more each and every week HERE!
Special Traffic Note for the Rutgers Game: Eastbound IN-45/46 lanes off of I-69 are scheduled to be open for Saturday's game. These lanes were closed for the IU-UConn game, but are scheduled to re-open later this week.
What to Watch For
1. Back It Up
In the first Big Ten start of his career, Michael Penix Jr. went to East Lansing and completed 33 of 42 passes for 286 yards with three touchdowns plus a rushing touchdown. He picked apart one of the Big Ten’s best defenses in a hostile atmosphere. That is a heck of an introduction. If Michael Penix is to be become the player Indiana fans think he can become, he will need to produce like that on a weekly basis and that starts this Saturday against Rutgers. That doesn’t mean he should be expected to complete 20 straight passes again or throw for 400 yards but a strong outing is the expectation every time out now. Watching Penix play against the Spartans brought a level of hope and excitement that I have not felt for several seasons and watching him continue to develop should be a blast.
2. Defensive Adjustments
The Indiana Hoosiers have had two terrific defensive performances and two concerning ones. Ohio State carved them up but the Buckeyes are doing that to everyone. Michigan State might actually have a pretty good offense but they should not gain 442 yards against the Hoosiers. Rutgers is closer to UConn than they are Michigan State and IU has had two weeks to get ready for this contest. Tom Allen spoke about working a lot with defensive coordinator Kane Wommack during the past two weeks and collaborating to fix IU’s defensive problems. Rutgers looks like they will be without running back Raheem Blackshear (redshirting) and quarterbacks Art Sitkowski (redshirting) and McLane Carter (retiring). Isaih Pacheco is a talented back (better runner than Blackshear but not a receiving threat) and Bo Melton is a potentially dangerous receiver but IU should not be torched by freshman Johnny Langan. If IU surrenders a good offensive day to Rutgers, it will be very concerning as the Hoosiers head to College Park.
3. Create Takeaways
Indiana created 26 takeaways in 2018. That was a terrific number and it was always going to come down in 2019. However, at least some takeaways were expected and so far this season, they have mostly been nonexistent. IU has two interceptions and one recovered fumble in five games. That number simply has to come up. The Hoosiers are playing a freshman quarterback with a poor offensive line and they should be able to capitalize on some mistakes from the Scarlet Knights to help gain their first Big Ten win of the season.
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