Indiana faces 10th-ranked Nebraska on homecoming Saturday, the first meeting between the two schools as members of the Big Ten.
Here are the Peegs.com Ten Takeways from Monday conversations with players and coaches and nuggets on the team the Saturday’s game.
1. THE DETAILS: Indiana (3-2, 1-1 Big Ten) faces the No. 10 Cornhuskers (5-0, 2-0) at 3:30 p.m. Saturday at Memorial Stadium. The game will be televised nationally on ABC. Mike Patrick will do play-by-play with Ed Cunningham on analysis and Dr. Jerry Punch on the sidelines.
2. A TOP-TEN SHOT: Indiana last beat a top-10 team in 1987 when the Hoosiers knocked off No. 9 Ohio State on the road 31-10 on Oct. 10. The last time IU beat a top-ten team at home was Nov. 25, 1967 when the Hoosiers beat No. 3 Purdue 19-14 at home on Nov. 25 to win the Big Ten and advance to the Rose Bowl.
3. INJURY UPDATES: IU All-American offensive guard Dan Feeney (concussion) is still not certain to play. “Feeney is doing more. We’ll see if we get him back,” IU coach Kevin Wilson said.
As far as redshirt junior Camion Patrick, who is returning following ACL surgery, Wilson said: “We’ve got to get Camion going.”
Wilson said there are several players the Hoosiers hope to have return or see more action. “Sometimes when you don’t practice as cleanly as you want, where’s the trust factor at? … Sometimes you over play some other guys.”
Wilson said he’s asked his assistants to practice some guys more to increase the trust factor. “I’d like to see several of those guys practice better,” Wilson said.
4. DEMONSTRATIONS DURING THE ANTHEM: On players (Rashard Fant) raising a fist during the Anthem, Wilson said they talked preseason about things in a big-picture manner.
Wilson said they talked about how many races and genders are represented by the flag and served this country in uniform. “Our school, we believe, you’re a citizen first. I respect he did it in a class way and came out and played a good football game.”
5. ANOTHER DUAL-THREAT QUARTERBACK: Indiana faced a talented running quarterback on Saturday in Ohio State’s J.T. Barrett and faces another dual threat in Nebraska’s Tommy Armstrong, although Armstrong’s passing numbers are also solid.
In five games, Armstrong has thrown for 1,151 yards and rushed for 293 yards.
“Armstrong is a little more of a drop back and create from there,” IU defensive coordinator Tom Allen said. “He does have quarterback runs, but not from the same scheme as Ohio State does.
“It helps,” he added of facing a dual-threat QB in the previous game, “but anytime a quarterback can run and throw it effectively, it creates challenges for any defense. He has a tremendous, strong arm as well.”
6. PLAYERS OF THE GAME: Indiana’s players of the game for Ohio State were freshman A’Shon Riggins on defense, no one on offense and punter Joseph Gedeon on special teams.
“He played great as a true freshman,” Wilson said of Riggins, who had an interception at Ohio State, his first college start.
7. GETTING A GOOD LOOK: Helping Indiana improve defensively is getting a good look at each opponent in practice. Zander Diamont did an outstanding job as Barrett in practice, Wilson said.
The IU coached noted that having overall talent and depth on a football team strengthens the scout team, which has a clear impact in preparation.
8. HOPING FOR A BIG CROWD: Wilson said several times he’s hoping for a strong showing from IU fans on Saturday.
“I’d love a big crowd. … If we play well, we have a chance to make it a fourth-quarter game.”
9. HISTORY BETWEEN IU AND NEBRASKA: This is the first game between the two schools since Nebraska joined the Big Ten for the 2011-12 academic year.
IU holds a 9-7-3 lead in the series, but the two teams haven’t played since 1978. This will be the third game between the Hoosiers and Cornhuskers in Memorial Stadium. Nebraska won 69-17 on Sept. 30 in 1978 and 45-13 on Sept. 18 in 1976.
10. DEFENSIVE IMPROVEMENT: Indiana’s defense continues to make obvious improvement.
IU is one of six schools in Division I not to allow a rush of more than 30 yards this season. IU is second in the Big Ten in fewest number of 30-plus yard plays allowed (seven). IU was last in the Big Ten in that category (allowing 36) last year.
Through five games in 2015 — which included just one Big Ten game — IU was allowing 32.4 points and 502.8 total yards per game and had given up 20 touchdowns and nine plays of 50-plus yards.
Through five games in 2016 — which includes two Big Ten games — IU is allowing 25.0 points, 375.0 yards per game and has given up 13 touchdowns and one play of 50-plus yards.
“After you develop success on the field, you get an expectation of, ‘This is how we’re going to play,’” IU defensive coordinator Tom Allen said.