With every game that Indiana plays this season, we'll take a pregame look at five keys that the Hoosiers will need to be successful.
Here are the five keys for today's game with Minnesota.
1. DICTATE THE TEMPO In recent games, the opposing offenses have been able to dictate the tempo of the game both in time of possession and staying on the field with third down conversions. This is a game where those two areas in particular are going to be huge for an Indiana defense that has struggled. The Hoosiers need to get some stops early in this one and allow their own offense to take control of the game.
2. ESTABLISH THE RUN In the games where Indiana has been most successful this season, one common denominator has been IU's ability to run the ball effectively. That was certainly the case against both Bowling Green and Penn State. If Tevin Coleman, Stephen Houston and even D'Angelo Roberts can get the IU offense some early yards to balance the ledger it will make things much more difficult against a Minnesota defense that has a solid pass rush specialist.
3. ONE QUARTERBACK NEEDS TO EMERGE There's nothing wrong with using both Nate Sudfeld and Tre Roberson against Minnesota if the idea is to bring them in for situational purposes. But you don't want to make changes because one player has been ineffective. The perfect scenario for the Hoosiers today would be if Sudfeld has the hot hand early and can look like he did in the first five games of the year as opposed to his performances against Michigan State and Michigan on the road in recent weeks. If you then want to bring Roberson in for goal line situations that's fine but IU needs one quarterback to be "the guy" today against Minnesota in order to have the best chance to be successful.
4. HOME SWEET HOME Obviously Indiana's best chance to win three games and get bowl eligible is a scenario that has the Hoosiers beating Minnesota, Illinois and Purdue in their final three home games. IU has been a big favorite all week against Minnesota despite the fact the Gophers are coming off an upset victory over Nebraska last week. Indiana is 3-2 at home this season but needs to feel comfortable and play with more confidence today at Memorial Stadium in order to put IU in a stronger position to reach its ultimate postseason goals for this season.
5. GET EWALD INVOLVED We've used this as a key before but it makes a lot of sense. This doesn't mean that Indiana should be settling for field goals but also let's don't forget how big of a weapon IU has as its disposal there. Indiana coach Kevin Wilson has played the gambler several times this season and come away without points. The Hoosiers have only attempted five field goals this season and Ewald made them all. He had a 50-yard field goal two weeks ago at Michigan. He's the most accurate field goal kicker in IU history with a percentage well over 80 percent. Ewald needs to have the opportunity to show why he can be such a major weapon for the Hoosiers.
Follow Terry Hutchens at Twitter.com/Foxsportshutch